Fat Mama fills bellies with hearty treats on Kazinczy Street
Photo : Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest
A barbecue party is now going on at a new restaurant, or rather “canteen”, that recently opened on the liveliest lane of urban Pest in District VII. It’s not a bistro or a street-food unit, but truly an eatery in the most classical sense – with a modern Western spirit, and the focus on meat. Bertha plays the main role, the head chef is Tamás Füzi, and the hearty flavors can silence even the rowdiest groups.
There are hardly any traditional restaurants left in Budapest – instead, we have bistros, street-food spots, top-category show kitchens, and so on. Downtown District VII is full to the brim with these places, so we are glad to discover a restaurant that breaks away from the hustle a bit. In Fat Mama, the service is fast, but we still get large meals and the staff is friendly. It also has extra features, like the southern menu, the meat-focused kitchen, and the variety of international flavors. When they first considered opening a restaurant, the owners had only one fixed point: Bertha.
She is the “fat mama”, who cooks in the kitchen day and night – only instead of a strong-boned, kindly mouthy lady, Bertha is a hearty charcoal oven. The meats are prepared with sous-vide technology, so the charcoal oven only takes care of the finishing touches, and the crumbly state of the meat forms even before the final roasting. The grilled vegetables and extra side dishes are prepared in the oven as well, rather quickly, since they are exposed to 500°C heat.
The name Fat Mama was originally just the title of the not-yet-implemented project, but then the owners decided to keep it. We like it too, especially the fact that it is not written with “ph”. The interior is the work of Dóra Fónagy, while the graphics were done by Ricsi Orosz. The design is not overcomplicated: this is a sleek space with various tables (long, four-person, tall), and the two main elements are the kitchen and the counter itself, as well as the large carpet on the opposite wall, which is a family relic of one of the owners. They did not boast with super-recycled, multi-functional decorations made from jet engines, or exclusive beer coolers. They were aware of their identity even before the official opening, which is a rarity nowadays.
Of course, what really matters is the food, which we were lucky enough to taste. Since Fat Mama is located right next to Maverick Hostel, it is obvious that they have a buffet breakfast, from 8am to 11am in the morning. Afterwards, they prepare for the lunch special, which is available at a price of 1,500 forints, including a soup and a main dish (meaty or vegetarian), and a dessert for an additional 390 forints. The portions are large; the soup arrives in a proper bowl instead of a cup, and the main dish is a proper serving, as well. At the time of our visit, the menu featured lentil soup with mustard and a fried pork chop or tomatoes, with vegetable strudel and green-pepper sauce. We enjoyed the thought-out flavors from fresh ingredients.
Photo: Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest 4 pictures
On the menu, we can find fixed items and monthly specials, as well – we chose from the permanent selection. According to the system, of you order a meat dish, you also get one side dish and two kinds of homemade sauce (the latter can be bought in jars, as well). The complete price of such a dish is around 2,500 forints. It might just be the best choice to order various dishes with a larger company, so that we can taste many different side dishes and sauces. Our favorites were the BBQ ribs (2,150 HUF), and the very rural, yet American barbecue-inspired 70/30 sausages (2,300 HUF), but the grilled chicken was surprisingly nice as well. Fat Mama offers steaks, as well – the Angus (6,500 HUF) and the T-bone steaks are both excellent. As for the side dishes, we recommend couscous with chickpeas and olives, and jasmine rice with toasted seeds; the sauces are all delicious as well, whether we choose the tomato chutney, mango mustard, BBQ sauce, or some other variation. For dessert, we tasted the monthly offer: the szatmári plum soufflé with icy vanilla and salted caramel stripes certainly convinced us that the kitchen is doing great in every regard. In fact, we’d better pay close attention to Bertha, the Fat Mama.
(The prices in this article were reported during the soft-opening period, and might change by about 10%.)