Cereal killers: fancy something a little different for brunch? Stacey Black tries out Hungarian food at the newest cafe this side of the vale
‟We’re looking to be fed!” are the first words I hear as I enter Budapest Cafe on a balmy Saturday morning. A ravenous-looking bunch of fellas huddle around a table by the counter, and I can relate to their longing for sustenance. I am hungry, and I’ve heard that this is the place to go when you need nourishment of the hearty type.
After falling in love with Clifton favourite Mockingbird Cafe, sisters Brigitta and Zsuzsanna decided to realise their dream of running a café of their own. Both have backgrounds in catering, and since taking over the charming spot earlier this year, they’ve been busy creating a menu that showcases Hungarian cuisine in all its glory. The pair have worked hard to create an atmosphere where “people can feel at home”, and want this to be reflected in their style of home cooking.
You’ll find Budapest Cafe tucked away in a leafy enclave on Alma Vale Road, and the tidy exterior is snugly inviting. Choosing a table for two by the counter, my friend and I surveyed the bright, uncluttered space that was dazzlingly lit by the full-length windows looking out onto the street. Over a much-needed coffee, we were expertly guided through the menu by a chipper and chatty Brigitta. Describing the cafe as “her baby”, she explained their aim is to bring more traditional dishes to the UK, and to show that Hungarian food is more than just goulash.
Alongside typical cafe grub such as bacon and tomato sandwiches and smashed avocado on toast, there are more unusual options. Sweet potato hash with scrambled eggs, onion, garlic and pepper can be served with optional Hungarian chorizo or smoked streaky bacon, and for the slightly smaller appetite, Hungarian French toast with sour cream.
Proving difficult to resist, my friend chose the mammoth-sized Hungarian rustic plate. Usually served with frankfurters and bacon, this was a veritable feast of scrambled eggs, cheese, potato and ratatouille on two hunks of toasted sourdough. A glistening mountain of orange-yellow scrambled eggs were speckled with red pepper and herbs, and well-furnished with cubes of potato. Nicely seasoned, and very filling, this was great for scooping up with the deeply-grooved, griddled sourdough. Delicious as it was, the meaty components of this dish are the star of the show and this one is definitely for the carnivores. Clearly in a wolfish mood, he also ordered a smaller portion of the sweet potato hash on the side. Sweet, moreish and a hugely unnecessary addition to an already-substantial breakfast, this was served on a bed of fresh spinach.
There is also a vegan-friendly menu on offer here and being a bean fiend, I had to go for the house sweet and spicy mixed beans on sourdough toast with a dollop of smashed avocado. This did exactly what it says on the tin. A mix of kidney, cannellini and butterbeans were smothered in a smoky, rich, tomatoey sauce that was packed with flavour. Sweet and deeply spiced with paprika, this was what I came for. Again, the portion size was colossal and there was no way I was going to finish it, but when Brigitta offered a little portion of homemade Hungarian ratatouille on the side, I made a little room.
On the sweet side of things, the main counter has an extensive selection of cakes and pastries for when only a sugar hit will do. Everything here is home-made and these cute confections are tough to choose between. However, the Hungarian Jewish layered cake seemed like a strong choice, so we took a dainty little slice home to enjoy later. These are delicious squares of walnuts, apple, poppy seeds and apricot jam, not too dissimilar to Greek baklava, and Brigitta told me that every grandmother in Hungary knows the recipe off by heart.
The sisters are clearly passionate about what they do here, and are hoping to expand their business to include a restaurant that serves evening meals in the future. A quick online search confirms that there’s definitely a gap in the Bristol foodie market for this, and I would certainly like to sample more Hungarian cuisine. But for now, afternoon tea with a Hungarian twist is soon to be added to the menu.
If you’re looking for friendly hospitality, a welcoming atmosphere and a bellyful of proper home-cooking, then make sure you visit Budapest Cafe on Alma Vale Road.