We don’t often explore the city’s District XIV - aka The Zugló - but not long ago we happened to find a new spot there, called A Kert Bisztró (“The Garden Bistro”). The name was chosen for a reason that anyone can immediately guess if they walk in, past the elegantly cool bistro interior. We did so, and ended up in the garden of A Kert, where it’s nice to relax under the hundred-year-old trees, and we can even catch a movie screening. Wherever we decide to sit down, we’ll get great service, and beautifully served dishes - always with a twist - including one of the best fruit soups in town.

If we could travel back in time 68 years and walk by this new restaurant, we would see the words “Wine House” on the place where today there’s a garden bistro with a youthful, refined style. In the past, horses pulled beer carriages by here, and the institution was home to card games and cigar-filled nights. The building remained in the hands of the same family since then, and in May of 2015, Judit and her husband Miklós decided that the building, inherited from a grandfather, deserves better than to host a real-estate agency. The couple knew exactly what they were doing, as they are both engineers: Judit designed the place, her husband carried out the plans, and the elegantly cool interior came to life.

Upon entering, the first thing we notice is the chandelier, but there are also charming chairs created with a patchwork technique, and fresh flowers. The terrace and the courtyard are peaceful, and it feels nice to sit down a bit and be surrounded by nature. Meanwhile, it’s worth trying their homemade thyme-cherry syrup drinks, and to check out the menu, which might only be a single page, but that doesn’t mean that the choice is easy.

The courses have long names, resembling a fine-dining experience, but luckily the prices do not match that appearance. We asked for help, and we were curious about the favorite dishes, so we tried the fish soup with buckwheat dumplings (1,350 HUF), and the wildberry soup (1,150 HUF). Those who order the fish soup should do so without expecting the traditional Hungarian variety of it, as this version is not only made with fish, but also with prawns and green mussels, all in a beetroot broth instead of the customary tomato one. The highlight of the fruit soup is the curd-cheese dumplings, which are creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, due to the roasted almonds.

The main courses are trying to outdo each other with their nice-sounding names; among them there are lighter and heavier dishes, street-food specialties (yes, hamburgers, too), and even a lunch special and a chef’s offer. We tried the Brazilian steak (5,860 HUF), which was medium-rare, and it arrived on polenta in a parmesan-chip basket. The meat was juicy, the chips crispy, and the polenta was also perfect. Similarly, the mushroom risotto was truly tasty as the side dish for our cheddar-filled chicken-breast supreme (2,850 HUF). Although the house specialty, the brittle cake, is based on a hundred-year-old family recipe, our favorite dessert was the lemon cake with basil (890 HUF). Chef Zsolt Szabó never lets anything escape his kitchen without tasting it first.

While we were there, we felt like being part of the everyday life of a nice family, and not just because of the regulars, and the kids running around. The staff operates with great harmony. The heartfelt hospitality and the thoughtful service felt good, especially since we often forget that these things still exist. Judit told us that they value the importance of traditional hospitality – right now, this is their profession.