MALTeR fills a legendary Budapest locale with good vibes and beer
Photo : Hirling Bálint - We Love Budapest
22/12/2016, 5:18 PM●3-minute article
In the 1950s and ’60s, Hungarian musician Rezső Seress – writer of the classic song “Gloomy Sunday” – considered downtown Pest’s iconic Kispipa restaurant as a second home, performing there frequently enough to become forever associated with the place. Although Kispipa recently closed, the story of Akácfa Street 38 continues under a new name: MALTeR Sörétterem. This freshly opened gastropub is carrying on the traditions of Kispipa with 21st-century verve, and an excellent selection of beers on tap.
Kispipa – which opened around 1950 – was more than a performance venue for Rezső Seress. He used to play there for a customer base of prostitutes and bohemians between 1958 until his death in 1968, and he felt so much at home there that while hiding behind the piano, he didn’t have to notice that history was changing in front of his eyes. Nonetheless, after he passed away, time marched on to the point where Kispipa could no longer stay in business, finally closing just a few months ago.
The new owner, Róbert Révész from Felni, wants to preserve the same atmosphere as Kispipa, even while adding numerous modern elements. Felni on Jókai Street opened nearly four years ago, and quickly became popular because of their quality artisanal beers. Felni’s menu was dominated by bistro dishes, because there wasn’t room for more special gastro treats – but that has ended with the opening of MALTeR.
Although the new management didn’t keep the Kispipa name, they want to keep and carry on the traditions attached to it. Proof of this is that they’ve kept many of the relics from the old restaurant, and incorporated them into the new design, and the stage where Rezső Seress’s piano used to stand is also preserved. In honor of Seress, a public installation in front of the venue will cast the shadow of the artist and his instrument on the walls. Béla Fesztbaum will perform the well-known Kispipa melodies here from time to time.
In terms of interior design, construction elements make the gray walls a bit more colorful. Everything happens in front of the visitor’s eyes: you can take a look behind the counter or watch the chefs as they put your order together.
If you’re wondering what Kispipa would be like if it would open nowadays, here is the answer: like MALTeR. According to their slogan, it started off as a gastropub and offers pub food for everybody. What does it mean? Well-known, simple treats that all Hungarians know; they are filling, go well with a beer, and originate from the Central European gastronomy. For example: tafelspitz (1,050 HUF), strapačky (950 HUF), MALTeR Wellington (1,280 HUF), onion soup with brown beer and pearl barley (650 HUF) – but all of the dishes were rethought, so expect some twists in the flavors.
Photo: Bálint Hirling/We Love Budapest 16 pictures
When it comes to the beers on tap, there are six smaller categories (brown, IPA, ale, stronger lager, lighter lager, wheat) to choose from. A new favorite, the red beer of Frederick Hekkelberg, Fuxx (750 HUF) brewed in the Czech Republic, will remain on tap for a long time. It is a caramel-flavored, dark-style beer, which warms your soul on a cold November night – we hope that it would hearten Seress’s spirit here.