The day before yesterday, I wrapped up all of the adventures in Bulgaria and hopped on over to Budapest, just a quick 1 hour flight away, to visit cousins and explore.
Aside from the amazing time I had in Sziget… One of the biggest music festivals in Europe (which happened to be occurring right at the time I arrived…) I started my typical wandering routine that tends to repeat itself everywhere I go.
- Look for a coffee shop with good wifi to work from
- Work work work work work work
- Then use that good wifi to find recommendations on must-see sights & delicious delights
If you’ve read any of my other adventures, you’ll notice that many of them center around food. So, I wrap up some work and head over to find what was dubbed one of the best restaurants in Budapest – Kőleves Vendéglő. This is located in District VII, a Jewish Quarter well-known for it’s hip “ruins” bars, eclectic restaurants, and lively nightlife.
While in District VII, wandering down Kazcinczy street is worth it in and of itself. Buildings are decorated with gawk-inducing murals, and the street is full of tantalizing dining options which nearly lured me in. But I stayed on track and made my way to Kőleves Vendéglő.
Arriving at my destination, I peek through the windows to find that this place looked more chill than vibrant. I was in the mood for something a little more lively, so I considered ditching this recommendation and heading to one of the many other neighboring options, as this seemed to be the ideal place for a couples to try an interesting meal or groups to exchange experimental dishes.
But even though the atmosphere was a little more intimate than a lone diner (personally) would prefer, I saw the menu and knew it was a must-try. With items like “Grilled Brie and Goat Cheese, Roast Apply, Dried Plum Beetroot Salad” – how could I say no?
Selecting one item felt like an impossible feat, but I narrowed it down to two options, both of which the server suggested after I asked her for recommendations: roast duck breast with celeriac, chili, dates & walnut cream or goose leg confit, semi-mashed potato with steamed cabbage and sun-dried plum… the latter was the house-specialty, so naturally, I ordered it.
Based on the description and price, I was expecting a tiny portion and overly-extravagant representation, but what came out was this:
A hefty goose leg resting on top of a pile of purple cabbage and a large scoop of mashed taters.
Although it was much more simple visually than I expected, the flavors were explosive. First, the goose leg was covered in perfectly browned, slightly crispy skin. When you barely sink your fork into it, the meat drips off the bone. I have no idea how they prepared it to be oh-so-tender, but it quite literally melts in your mouth.
As for the side dish… well, I’ve never been a big fan of cabbage. My dad used to prepare it at home in giant, plastic vats, and the memory that stuck the most is smell of farts filling the yard as the vegetable was fermenting.
This cabbage was different though… it’s purple color matched the plum flavor. Those juicy, plump fruits mixed in made it an interesting pairing.
Lastly, the potatoes… Now, coming from the potato state, it’s not easy to impress me with potatoes. However, these “semi-mashed potatoes” must have been grilled at some point, adding a charred aroma to the dish. As straightofrward as they were, these potatoes were a neutralizing essence in the meal, offsetting the gusto of the goose and candied cabbage.
To sum it all up, the tender meat, paired with the sweet plum cabbage and smoky potatoes made for a sensory overload of delectable flavors. It was so incredibly simple, but oh-so succulent.
The icing on the cake? This mouthwatering meal, plus a glass of wine, cost $17.20. Say what?!
As for the atmosphere… if it wasn’t for the Franchies sitting at the table adjacent to mine, I’d have thought I’m in a hidden-gem of a restaurant in Portland. Chill rock was quietly playing in the background, and the walls were decorated with strange yet non-kitschy items, including a cheese grater light and a glass chandelier (which was literally a fixture hanging from the ceiling with a bunch of wine glasses dangling from a wire.)
As I walk out after my experience, I realized that there was an entire garden connected to the restaurant, full of people enjoying their drinks, hanging on hammocks, couches and patio furniture.
If you ever go to Budapest, check this place out.