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Meet Chef Norbert Tanács, the new culinary maestro at quirky Buda Castle restaurant Baltazár

The restaurant Baltazár has been a byword for quality and laid-back elegance in the Buda Castle for 10 years now. They boast impeccable grill food directly from the Josper grill, Hungarian specialities, wine, and a bohemian design, all of which we have been adoring for ages. Yet, they still have surprises in store: this time around, a new young chef, Norbert Tanács, has joined the team, bringing an extra zest and new sensations to the place.

Over the past 10 years, Baltazár has become a defining and unwavering spot in Buda Castle, where a variety of distinctive flavours is delivered by the Josper grill, and the friendly space offers a relaxed atmosphere and exciting wines, with no less than 200 items. In addition, the special dishes are accompanied by exceptional décor, with exciting drawings on the wall and small accessories in almost every nook and cranny.

Norbert Tanács, the new chef, has been strengthening the team since the summer, having recently moved to Budapest.

"I was working as a sous chef at the Prímás Pince Restaurant and Wine Tunnel in Esztergom for 3 years, but I moved to Budapest, so I had to change and I was very happy to take this job, which is definitely a great career step for me. Also, I have the freedom to realize my ideas at Baltazár."

As a vegetarian chef, Norbert wants to enhance the vegetable line at Baltazar, but of course, he also serves great steaks and burgers.

"As a chef, I have no problem not eating meat. I've only been a vegetarian for a few years now, I made the decision for health reasons, so I know all the different ways of preparing meat," he explained when asked how he manages to combine his work with a vegetarian lifestyle.

Josper, the Number One grill

Baltazár always had a very strong barbecue kitchen. They use Josper charcoal grills (a special barbecue, with all the advantages of an oven and a grill), which opens up a lot of possibilities for either the meat or veggie line.

The meats stay juicy, and the vegetables really benefit from the basic smokiness provided by the Josper.

Using high-quality charcoal and cooking at high heat (around 500 centigrade), the vegetables are caramelised by the olive oil smoke and the meats by the steak butter, both of which create a crispy layer of char and the flavours become even more intense. What's more, the grill area connects the two interiors of the Baltazar, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the open kitchen.

Middle-Eastern and winter flavours

A variety of grilled vegetables have always been prominent in Baltazár's kitchen,

Norbert's new menu focuses on Middle Eastern flavours and winter vegetables.

In terms of ingredients, chickpeas are emphasised, and in winter, beetroot is a must, which is used to make a cream with feta, walnuts, and yoghurt, a dish that will energise you even on colder days. Chickpeas also feature in the slow-roasted aubergine served with lemon mayonnaise, pickled purple onion, and pomegranate; a colourful and exciting combination. The large, chunky Gordal olives can be served stir-fried with herbed labneh, a thick, creamy Middle Eastern yoghurt.

From rib eye steaks to burgers and teriyaki ribs, everything grilled

The meat version of Baltazár's winter burgers includes cheddar cheese with red onion chutney and pickled cucumber alongside the aged meat patty, while the vegetarian version features goat cheese, caramelised onions, walnuts, and arugula. Meat lovers can also opt for shredded pork and a spicy coleslaw salad. The soft burger patties are cooked in their own facility. Sweet potatoes and truffle fries are available on the side, but smoky grilled carrots are also a good accompaniment.

The Baltazár Buddha Bowl is also being revamped to reflect the season. The winter version will feature chickpeas, quinoa, black rice, pickled purple onions, soybeans and avocado in guacamole and, of course, fresh vegetables. It will be served with Mizo mayonnaise but is also available with a free-from dressing for vegans.

For meat lovers, in addition to the rib eye steak from Josper, try the teriyaki ribs with Asian sesame slow salad (in which carrots, iceberg lettuce, Napa cabbage, spring onions, cilantro, peanuts, sesame paste, and soy are the perfect combination) or the free range chicken fillet with truffle mashed potatoes. For fans of classic Hungarian flavours, beef goulash, chicken soup, chicken, and beef stew will be a hit.

As for desserts, on cold, gloomy winter days, everyone will be cheered up by the chocolate bomb with caramel sauce and salted caramel ice cream or the cherry poppy seed slice with raspberry sorbet and vanilla crumble.

Norbert makes a special effort to ensure that everyone can find their favourite on the menu, whether they are a fan of classic Hungarian cuisine, special meats, or unique Middle Eastern flavours, and there will be plenty of different vegetables from Josper's on the plates, either as a stand-alone or as a side dish.

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