Petra Palásthy and István Pusztai's fairy-tale Hungarian bistro has been revived at the former Vendégfogadó a Tigrishez on Nádor utca, where chef József Dógi creates the rural flavours of his grandparents, dressed in a fresher, more modern garb.

It's always difficult to strike a balance between the modern and the classic of chequered tablecloths and nostalgic flavours, as the end result can be emotionless and sterile, or you can quickly slide into stereotypical kitsch.

The Retek Bísztró, however, offers a combination of both with great a sense of taste.

Petra and István opened the original Retek a few corners away in 2018, but they soon outgrew it, and this newer, larger location was ready by the end of May. The old Retek was a little more rustic, both in terms of the environment and the food, but the stylish design of the restaurant on Nádor utca, the balance of old and modern, perfectly exemplifies the new offer as well, since here the homely flavours of a Hungarian childhood are presented with a contemporary approach, where you can forget any misconceptions that real Hungarian cuisine is about difficult dishes. It's not. In fact, it can be much easier.

Goulash (HUF 2,850) is one of the best examples. Rich in flavour, substantial but not at all greasy, it features juicy, perfectly textured beef and crisp vegetables, which turn this classic, completely obsolete in many places, into a fresh sensation.

On the one hand, there’s a careful signal to learn how to chew again, and on the other, the taste of the vegetables is much more intense, perhaps even more honest, and their sweetness is a great contrast to the understated spiciness.

Yet the real highlight is the pork meatballs with creamy mashed potatoes and homemade pickles (HUF 4,200). Crispy on the outside, juicy within, just like really good meatballs should be.

Chicken paprikash with truffle-butter dumplings (HUF 4,900) veers a little from the traditional version, but remains an exciting combination of flavours. To finish, the all-time favourite poppy-seed dumplings (HUF 1,950) hits the spot.

In a familial atmosphere, they cook with good taste and style, the little nooks and crannies full of well-thought-out gags, hand-picked and hand-made souvenirs. This is Hungarian bistro cuisine brought to life, as appealing to foreigners as it is to Hungarians, many of whom may soon become regulars.

Venue information

Retek Bisztró
1051 Budapest, Nádor utca 5
Open: Daily noon-4pm, 6pm-10pm