Last year Kalóz’s pike-perch and chips combo was crowned the winner of Balaton’s beach food competition, so it came as no surprise when we learned that the business is expanding. Their new joint in Badacsony offers new dishes in addition to the old favorites: the chili had us in tears in a good way, and we thoroughly enjoyed the trendsetting fried sausage from Balatonkenese as well as the eggplant cream made by a producer from Transylvania.
Kalóz in Fövenyes gained wide-spread recognition when last year one of their creations won the beach food contest held by Balatoni Kör. Luckily, they didn’t stop there: they kicked off the current season by opening a new buffet on the beach of Badacsonytomaj. It was actually the local municipality that contacted Kalóz to open a new place in the village, and the owners jumped on the offer right away, bringing with them the image and attitude familiar from Fövenyes. Patrons at the new spot seem to adore this fresh approach to beach gastronomy, and they also enjoy being able to see how the food is made at the purposefully designed show kitchen.
They cook some of their dishes sous-vide, and beach food stand or not, they take the technique entirely seriously to preserve the valuable nutrients in their food. The chef is none other than Zoltán Szabó, the instructor of Gundel Károly Secondary Vocational School of Catering in Budapest (he had two of his pupils visiting when we dropped by). The fact that the couple running Kalóz managed to snatch him three years ago clearly shows how dedicated they are to shaking up the beach food scene of Balaton.
Szabó agrees that usual beach foods like hake, lángos, and various deep fried goods should be tossed out for the genre to succeed in a reinterpreted form. And that’s where the problem familiar to all Balaton catering establishments comes in: finding capable staff is next to impossible. The owners of Kalóz have found a way to reconcile this circumstance with their ambitions; the menu includes innovative dishes that are easy to prepare even for less experienced employees. More complicated tasks, like cooking the patties that go into the burgers, are carried out in Fövenyes, under the supervision of Szabó, and the food is distributed between the two buffets. Other tasks are easily performed by properly trained team members.
Hedon supplies most of the beers at the eatery in Tomaj, and their popular brews, such as Balatonvilágosi and Helmut, are available on tap as well. It’s pretty obvious that you can get Badacsony wines, but there’s no soda, only water by the brand Ágnes Mohai. The same high quality applies to the dishes: the pita for the gyros is made from flour from Szigetszentmiklós, and the bun for the hamburger is baked in a Nagyvázsony bakery based on Kalóz’s original recipe.
Several different burgers are served in the new season; we tried their chili burger for 1,990 forints, and all we can say is that it was pretty epic. The owners are on good terms with a chili farmer from the Hajdúság region; he supplies them with the strong sauce, which left our photographer speechless for a few minutes (he dunked a big potato wedge into it, which was a big mistake).
The pike-perch burger is hard to beat as well, but weirdly enough thick, savory pancakes are more sought after at the Badacsonytomaj joint. Their beach food award-winning, Balaton-appropriate fish and chips (called pike-perch and potatoes, 1,890 forints) has been adopted from the original eatery. The pancakes are a popular choice in Fövenyes as well; one version, costing 1,290 forints, is served with zacuscă, concocted by a producer from Transylvania, who also makes delicious eggplant cream. Let’s not forget about the fried sausage, which is procured from Pörc in Balatonkenese. It also comes with zacuscă, which makes it even more of a niche-filling creation (1,490 forints).