New restaurants expand the gastronomic scope of Budapest on an almost-daily basis, but the fluctuation and increasing momentum of this ever-growing selection make it harder and harder for new places to stand out. Successful businessman László Vidák, who revived the popular Hungarian shoe brand Tisza and opened the legendary Menza Restaurant, has been preparing to open a place with an atmosphere similar to old coffeehouses, with rich deli counters and authentic Hungarian cuisine. Börze is determined, high-quality, and beautiful – and plans to stay for the long-term.
In August of 2017, a promising new coffeehouse and restaurant opened in District V. The name of Börze (“Bourse” in English) was inspired by the nearby Stock Exchange Palace on Szabadság Square, and the restaurant’s logo – a guinea fowl in lace-up leather boots – somewhat loosens the splendor that greets us inside. The interior of Börze is decorated with the most sophisticated French-mosaic flooring, burgundy and brass seats, custom-made lamps, marble tables, and elegant, simple Thonet chairs. The resemblance to the early Liberté is no coincidence – the same interior designer worked on both restaurants. However, we fancy this grand-yet-understated style a bit more.
Upon entering, we’re immediately greeted by a deli counter and numerous shelves packed with premium products. The deli counter features a variety of cold delicacies for taking away or eating on the spot, including great cheese, sausage, ham, or even French salad and eggplant cream – all for surprisingly affordable prices (100 g Liptauer for 279 HUF, 100 g boiled bacon for 199 HUF). The old Berkel scale is surrounded by assorted Hungarian gastro books, but Börze’s little shop also sells some fine wines and other carefully sorted items, like lavender essence and soaps.
We took a seat providing us a view over everything. The waiters – Barna Némedy, Béla Temesfői, and Zoltán Szelényi – are responsible for the smooth service; we asked them about the old-fashioned waiter culture and the kind of hospitality they want to represent. What we got were honest replies: they are here for the guests, attentive, and ready for any question or request.
Börze opens at 7:30 am, so we can have breakfast either from the deli counter or the restaurant’s classic breakfast selection. Two fried eggs with bacon costs 1,290 forints, a pair of spicy “Debrecener” sausage with mustard and bread is 1,490 forints, and a “royal breakfast” – including ham, smoked sausage, gouda cheese, butter, bread, vegetables, coffee, orange juice, and sparkling wine – costs a hefty 2,790 forints.
During lunchtime, the restaurant offers a plentiful two-course daily special. While many places offer lunch menus in the area, Börze actually offers good value for our money.
The à la carte menu is short and straightforward, compiled by chefs Attila Nagy and Zoltán Forster, and features dishes like the classic “Hortobágyi” pancakes (pancakes stuffed with paprika chicken and glazed with sour cream, 1,290 HUF) and duck liver paté with fresh vegetables and rye bread from Pipacs Bakery (2,390 HUF). It’s been awhile since we ate such a fluffy, silky paté. We also recommend the “Újházy-style” guinea-fowl broth (1.190 HUF), which is cooked from the restaurant’s own farm-raised guinea fowls.
Our absolute favorite was the grilled catfish with smoked sausage crust, served on pea velouté and pickled radish (3,990 HUF), the greatness of which was in its simplicity, but the Cordon Bleu with mashed potatoes and homemade pickles (2,690 HUF) proved to be excellent, as well, with crunchy breadcrumbs and served rolled up.
At the time of our visit, the chef’s offer was Wagyu steak, prepared faultlessly with plenty of jus. Duck leg, pork neck, and slow-cooked lamb are also featured, contributing to a brief traditional-Hungarian menu. Börze uses modern culinary technology, but doen’t cook meats sous-vide just for the sake of it.
Among the desserts, we can find various dessert cups (950 HUF), cottage-cheese dumplings topped with sour cream and buckhorn sorbet (950 HUF), and a goat cheese selection (1,500 HUF).
Whether having breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Börze, one cannot leave disappointed. The restaurant was built on expertise and passion and is probably here to stay – just like its “older sibling”, Menza Restaurant.