In recent years, Budapest has gone through quite a transformation in its restaurant scene. From traditional Hungarian pot stews cooked over firewood to modern michelin star gastronomy, you will have no trouble scouting for good options. Being new to the city, I chose to go with the recommendations on TripAdvisor – the best restaurant in Budapest voted number one, Zeller Bistro.
Zeller Bistro is no michelin star restaurant but it’s personal and impeccable service, as what others described it, made it the chart topper. However, with fame comes the necessity of reservation. Not intending to miss the chance given my short stay in Budapest, I emailed for reservation a week in advance. My email was greeted within 24 hours with a friendly confirmation by the co-founder herself, Anna Kopocsky.
The interior decor was very warm, cosy and relaxed; a great place to unwind after a long day out.
On arrival, we were welcomed with a drink by the other co-founder, Peter Folfoldi. The drink is a family recipe elderflower champagne with very low percentage of alcohol — sweet, light and just a tad fizzy. I absolutely loved the drink that I considered bringing two bottles back to London. This was unfortunately not possible with Wizz Air, a budget airlines that took budget to the next level, not without a ridiculous hefty surcharge.
Peter, who was really friendly and patient, introduced us to their menu and answered any questions that I had.
For starters, a Zeller Bistro signature what they call ‘crispy small fish as my mum makes it’ (HUF1400 / £3.70)
Truffle cream soup (HUF950 / £2.50)
Duck confit with sweet potato (HUF3400 / £12)
Chicken paprika (HUF2600 / £7)
At each table, two large sketch papers are laid out like a table mat but it is actually intended for drawing. Sketches are collected at the end and if you’re lucky, pinned to their ‘wall of fame’ in the restaurant. Colour pencils are provided alongside the cutleries :-)
My Two Cents
Sorry to be a negative Nancy to start with but the paprika chicken was my least favourite. I thought it was good but frankly nothing exclusively special about it apart from the fact that the flavour was unconventional for Western taste (paprika is Hungary’s symbolic spice widely used in local dishes). The duck confit on the other hand was a little dry and salty. It would’ve been excellent if cooked well. Flavours however were well paired with the sweet potatoes. If compared to Duck & Waffle’s duck confit, D&W would be a little ahead of Zeller Bistro. It was my first time having truffle (mushroom) soup so I cannot comment accurately but I did find the cream soup less concentrated than those I had in London. I was a little concerned when I ordered the “crispy small fish” but to my delight and surprise, it turned out to be the best one of all; sumptuous texture, very juicy considering it has been deep fried with batter, which is especially unusual for small fishes. It was my favourite alongside the elderflower champagne.
The service was as great as the reviews have commended. The staffs regularly checked on us and asked how each dish was. Other diners have been given equally consistent great service as far as I could see. They listened to our comments and without hesitation, offered to take the dish we weren’t overly happy with off the bill. Being open to comments and willing to offer any goodwill as such really does make the dining experience pleasant by a great deal. The consistency in their service overall is, without a doubt, the example all great restaurants should strive to be.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Address: Izabella utca 36-38, Budapest, Hungary
Opening hours: 12pm – 3pm & 6pm – 11pm
Telephone: +36 30 651 0880