István and Feri are two good friends who used to be schoolmates and always wanted to work together. They have a lot of experience in the catering business, and now they used their imagination to start their own enterprise, named Gombro’c. The playful title refers to their friendship and the place’s main profile (with “gombóc” meaning “dumpling”). We went to Erkel Street, tasted, enjoyed, and were fascinated at how diverse Hungarian dumplings can be, backing away from the classic plum variation.
Plum dumplings (or “szilvás gombóc”) have a long tradition in Hungary; the potato dumplings, filled with plum or plum jam, are usually eaten as a dessert, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Understandably, most Hungarians think of this simple dish with sweet nostalgia. Recently, we visited a place near the Great Market Hall, on Erkel Street, where dumplings are not necessarily made with fruit and sugar, but with meat, ice cream, goat cheese, spinach, and more.
The interior design of Gombro’c is as simple as can be – they didn’t need the city’s trendiest interior designers, and the pallet furniture is absent, as well. It’s obvious that the focus is on the food here, so we would rather not overanalyze the design. The blackboard beside the counter lists the complete salty and sweet dumpling selection, which will change seasonally. (We visited the place in January, but also heard about the holiday menu that included the cabbage and black-pudding dumplings.) All variations cost 650 forints, which includes one dumpling with sauce. Two portions are enough to ease one’s hunger, whether we choose the salty or sweet versions.
In our opinion, the quirkiest item on the menu is the dumpling and hamburger fusion, called the “gomburger”. The meat-and-cheddar-stuffed dumpling is served with lettuce, tomato, and remoulade sauce. The taste is so unusual that we couldn’t resist taking a fancy to it, but it got us thinking – what could be next? Hamburger lollipops? Brownie dumplings? Our favorite, however, was the goat cheese and spinach dumpling we’d been eyeing beforehand, with almond crumbs. The harmony of flavors is great, if not exceptional! The BBQ-rib-stuffed version is delicious as well, served with smoked sauce and covered with crumbled Mexicorn. Regarding flavors, it mainly reminds us of meaty gnocchi, but still manages to be more complex.
Naturally, we tried some of the sweet dumplings as well, like “hógolyó” (“snowball”), which is filled with Nutella, covered with shredded coconut, and served with white chocolate and strawberry sauce; a Snickers-inspired version, filled with salty peanut butter and served with caramel sauce and chocolate ice cream; or a lime-filled dumpling, served with cottage cheese and peach sauce. In the end, we couldn’t resist eating the classic inspiration, the praised plum dumpling, either – served with cinnamon-flavored honey sauce. We cut it in half with joyful nostalgia, and weren’t disappointed.
Whether you crave something classic or extreme, and want to break away from the trinity of pho, hamburgers, and pizza, give Gombro’c a try!
Address: Budapest 1092, Erkel Street 3.
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 11am-9pm