Authentic Chez Matild sits on one of the quietest streets on the lower slopes of Gellért Hill, among the turn-of-the-century villas and shaded trees of Villányi út. This French-owned bakery offers wonderfully fresh sourdough bread as well as popular pastries.
Stéphane Marret grew
up in a small village in the north of France. He visited Hungary for the first
time after the fall of Communism, spending half a year in Dunakeszi to work on
his college thesis. He has lived in Budapest since the mid-1990s but wasn’t involved
His daughter Matild – whom the bakery is named after – says that bread wasn’t even a particularly common item in their kitchen. However, they did have a favourite bakery in Balatonalmádi, where rustic breads made with traditional techniques were already available before the sourdough boom.
Stéphane used to be a salesperson, often on the road, and not enjoying it. “I spent a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, lacking human interaction, physical work and the joy of creation.” One day during a midlife crisis, he walked into the bakery Pékműhely on Bartók Béla út for a loaf of bread:
The taste of bread
“The taste of bread from my childhood suddenly hit
me. The same crispy crust with a slightly sour, soft interior. I grew up in the
French countryside, but I almost forgot what real bread tastes like.”
He had been thinking about opening a bakery for some time when a store near his home was suddenly vacated, at which point his journey could begin. He immediately purchased a large electric oven for the new venue – as he says, there was no going back from this point, he knew that had to take this new vocation seriously.
He began looking for staff, forming the business strategy and enrolled at a baking school. Surprisingly, the closures in spring didn’t have a negative effect, quite the contrary: “I used to travel a lot before, and it was difficult to balance work with designing the bakery. After Covid, I was suddenly able to stay put and focus on this project”.
The results were instant. After a test run, Chez Matild opened on 29 October 2020. The counter and the service area sit by the workshop where Stéphane, awaiting his diploma, knuckles down with two other bakers who left different fields behind, Marina and Márti, while behind the counter, Ági looks out for customers coming in. Even though Chez Matild is not in an extremely busy area, footfall is healthy even on a gloomy winter’s day.
Friday is kalács day. This Hungarian braided brioche is sold for 800 to 1,200 forints depending on weight. For now, kalács is only prepared once a week – usually 60 of them – despite their regular popularity. As the owners are looking for ways to improve, they are planning to offer this delight more in the future.
However, the aim is to maintain the calm and rustic
atmosphere of Chez Matild, so there will be no transformation or expansion in
this respect, only the range of products increased. Not that there’s a shortage
now – there are always plain, rye, spelled and semi-brown loaves available, as
well as baguettes, the other fan favourite.
They also offer unique baked creations, such as bread with sun-dried tomatoes or rosemary. Prices are friendly, bread somewhere between 650 and 1,200 forints.
The counter displays some of the most popular Hungarian pastries such as cocoa swirls and cottage-cheese dumplings, but croissants and pains au chocolat are also plentiful. French sweets now feature at the counter, too, for example, madeleines, the Corsican relative of cantuccini, canistrelli, and financiers, a soft, almond sponge cake bite.
But Stéphane’s proudest creations are the baguettes: “France has very bad bread, most of it from large-scale producers and/or frozen. I think it’s not as easy to find good bread there as it is here”. This baker’s baguettes are truly excellent, crunchy on the outside, soft and white as snow on the inside, with a touch of sourness to let you know that you’re dealing with a true sourdough product – as with all of the other bread found at Chez Matild.
Chez Matild is a friendly, lovable bakery with delicious bread and other pastries, as well as simple Italian espresso. Once you can sit outside in front of the shop with your pistachio swirl and coffee, the experience will truly reach its peak.
District XI. Ménesi út 82
Current opening hours: Tue-Fri 7.30am-6pm