City guide

Portobello in Budapest – couple returns from Dublin to open café downtown

Photo : Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

A Hungarian couple just returned home from Dublin has opened a sleek café-wine bar in the heart of Budapest. Portobello Coffee & Wine is aptly named, as these are the fortes of Máté Szekeres and Regina Ujszászi, former managers of a specialty coffee chain and a Michelin-starred restaurant respectively. The result is a new contemporary spot on Veres Pálné utca.

Máté Szekeres and Regina Ujszászi are passionate and highly qualified gastronomic professionals who insist on quality all down the line, Regina where wine is concerned, Máté, coffee.

Photo: Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

And not just any wine or coffee, but the organic and the specialty varieties.

Photo: Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

Portobello uses Berlin-based The Barn coffee, recently elected Europe’s best roasters. It’s made from single-origin beans and sourced from reliable, sustainable coffee growers. The Barn team has built up a four-year working relationship with particular coffee growers from Guatemala.

Photo: Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

While coffee is the focus by day, the emphasis is on good wines in the evening, later in the week. While biodynamic and organic wines are not as widespread in Hungary as abroad, Regina feels she may be reversing that trend.

Photo: Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

No or very little sulphur is added to the wine just before bottling – this is also important because many people are sensitive to it. “Less sulphur, kinder hangovers,” Regina explains.

 

Yeasts, enzymes and other extracts are not added to biodynamic wine, nor is it filtered or clarified – based on the fact that there is no need to take away the essential nature and taste of the wine. They do not spray the grapes with chemicals, and the vineyards are typically smaller, since organic farming can be done on a more modest scale. “Only healthy grapes can make good wine,” says Regina.

Photo: Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

The end result? We tried the Kadarka of Oskár Mauer. His estate in Szerémség is the oldest Kadarka vineyard in the world, planted in 1880. The wine seemed to be more natural, raw, unfiltered, at least to this layman.

Photo: Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

In addition to coffee and wine, there is food: until 4pm, brunch and lunch, from croissants to more sophisticated egg dishes and sandwiches. Snacks and fine bites are served after 5pm, to accompany the wine. All the ingredients are carefully selected, with no compromises made.

Photo: Nóra Hunyadi / Gastrografika

They use the Arán Bakery’s excellent sourdough loaves, an interesting continuation to a friendship with the Hungarian couple running it – they lived on the same street in Dublin.

 

Portobello

District V. Veres Pálné utca 16

Open: Mon-Wed 8am-5pm, Thur-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat 8.30am-10pm, Sun 9am-3pm