The multicultural nature of Budapest’s dining and nightlife hub, Gozsdu Udvar, has just been enriched by another arrival. Meshuga brings a relaxed, Israeli street-food sense of life, with a little Turkish and Arab culinary influence thrown in. The name is Yiddish and means scatty or bonkers, although here might refer to the Mediterranean mix in the kitchen.

It’s not every day that a new place opens the Gozsdu Udvar, already filled to the brim with popular eateries and nightspots.

Entering, you are greeted by relaxed music, a friendly interior and the grin of half-Israeli, half-Turkish chef Mor Maya. He clearly loves what he’s doing, and quickly outlines the order of play

First comes the vegetarian broken sabich (fried aubergine with Israeli salad, poached egg, amba tahini mousse and homemade za’atar biscuits, HUF 3,300), which proves to be an amazingly strong opening. It’s spicylush, complex and worth dipping your biscuit or spoon right in because there’s the aubergine at the bottom and the poached egg yolk exploding in the middle.

For the Istanbul salad (fresh lettuce with tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, radishes, sprinkled with pomegranate vinaigrette, sumac croutons and Turkish tulum goats’ cheese, HUF 2,600), Mor puts to good use his Turkish grandmother’s recipe, without forgetting to add a few eastern Mediterranean touches.

Next comes a small Hungarian twist: the chestnut gnocchi (gnocchi in sage, garlic butter, chestnut cream, baby leeks and manchego cheese, HUF 4,500) can also be accompanied with foie gras (+HUF 1,500). Gnocchi can be heavy but here they are quite airy and light, the manchego providing a creamy background while allowing the other ingredients to prevail. Sweet, savoury and bitter at the same time, it shows delicate balance.

For the main course, we also tried the ekmek balik (HUF 8,500), fish kebabs in a spicy tomato sauce, with tahini yoghurt cream and micro coriander, served on toasted brioche. The food itself has basically Moroccan and Turkish influences, but with the smoked yoghurt, coriander, sea bass and spices emphasise the Mediterranean.

For dessert, the Middle-Eastern knafeh for two (goats’ cheese, mozzarella, pistachio, candied rose petals, kataifi pasta, HUF 4,000) was a little like baklava without the honey. The combination of melted, salted cheese and sweet elements with the texture of vermicelli evokes the Levantine.

Meshuga is youthful, cosy, clean and and cheery. Its kitchen uses quality ingredients for create dishes of great complexity, mostly made to order. Give it a try next time you’re enjoying a stroll along the Gozsdu Udvar without its long-lost tourist hordes.

Venue information

1075 Budapest, Holló utca 12-14
Open: Daily 6pm-1am