The Déryné was one of Budapest’s very first bistros, in the classic, French sense of the word. Today, the locale can be defined by its global approach to cuisine and relaxing atmosphere. The Déryné team used the lockdown period as a chance to carry out a lengthy renovation, and restore the old splendour of the building, which once belonged the famous Auguszt Confectionery.
Déryné has been regarded as the only one of its kind ever since it first opened, even though a lot has happened in Budapest’s gastro scene in the past 15 years. Yet, it has always occupied a unique, central role – the locale offered its own type of bread before this ever became a widespread trend, and for years, this was practically the only non-hotel venue serving brunch.
Collecting ideas and inspiration while travelling abroad, they incorporated the best international culinary finds into the menu, setting an example for other bistros across the city.
Owner Kristóf Kovács has always reckoned that running venue like this one can’t be done half-heartedly, so whenever he’s not occupied with observing international gastronomic tendencies in person, he spends his days at Déryné, and is happy to help out in the kitchen, too.
While most places faced serious difficulties during spring’s coronavirus outbreak, Déryné tried to take advantage of the situation. They decided to use this time to revamp their restaurant, with plans already in place, just waiting for the right occasion.
The building once belonged to renowned confectioners the Auguszt family, where József Auguszt opened his store during World War I. The luxurious, lavishly decorated confectionery was the haunt of artists and bohemians during the inter-war period, and was known as the Buda Gerbeaud.
Unfortunately, the war then left its mark on the venue, which was nationalised a few years after reopening. As a statue of Hungarian actress and opera singer Déryné marked where the summer theatre in the Horváth Garden once stood nearby, the post-war operation took her name when it became a restaurant.
By the 1990s it was showing its age but was soon revitalised thanks to the efforts of Kristóf Kovács. As he says, he’s waited six years to carry out the necessary changes for the locale to reflect its former Auguszt glory again.
Unexpected free time to do this came in spring, which they even extended to finish all that they had in mind, welcoming guests again after a half-year hiatus. The reception remains the same, warm, friendly, attentive and well-prepared staff greeting you as you enter the locale, whether it’s for breakfast or a cocktail.
The changes on the menu are what Déryné regulars have been used to, with always enough novelty to keep them on their toes. Seasonal comfort foods and familiar classics can all be found. Although it’s still within Budapest, visiting Déryné is a bit like traveling through space and time, where luxury meets familiarity.
The main changes affected the interior, with the remodelled Déryné bearing an ever stronger resemblance to Paris and the turn of the century now. The floors have been replaced with square marble tiles, which intend to evoke the timeless atmosphere of the Auguszt Confectionery. Whereas before, there were a few visible cables to be seen inside, they are now all hidden, and the bar has received a new, elegant marble counter, too.
The biggest game-changer, however, is the new hall at the back, separated by a glass door and recalling a winter garden or palm house. The room used to serve as József Auguszt’s confectionery workshop, but the former kitchen was revamped to put away all the cakes, natural light flooding in through glass bricks.
The finished product is nothing less than what we would expect from Déryné: soft elegance, an exclusive yet familiar atmosphere, and something simply unique. It’s not a simple copy of the great predecessor’s venue, but a perfected milieu that is both nostalgic and modern. According to Kristóf, the new look was actually brought to life by the guests, rather than for them.
District I. Krisztina tér 3
Open: Mon-Thur 7.30am-midnight, Fri 7.30am-1am, Sat 9am-1am, Sun 9am-midnight