Last summer, many locals noted sourly that their cultic Sparhelt Bistro was closed. Behind the closed doors, however, there was a busy transformation, a design face-lift and a search for a chef. The preparations reached fruition at the beginning of 2015: the previous chef was replaced by the similarly talented Balázs Elek.
On 7 February, Bistro Sparhelt re-opened with the new chef, Balázs Elek, who arrived from Balatonakarattya's Spoon Lodge. Before, he had also worked in the kitchen of two Kempinski Hotels (in Budapest and the in the High Tatras), and once had been the head chef of Veritas Bistro and Wine Shop in Budakeszi.
Balázs admitted that in front of the regulars returning to Sparhelt, he wishes to outdo Klaus Deutschmannon, the ex-chef of Chateau Visz and Sparhelt. Of course, this rivalry is harmless, it is mostly about professional growth, and benefits the guests of Sparhelt primarily.
Apropos guests: Sparhelt seems to be serious about its regulars, keeping the glasses etched with their names in a dedicated glass display.
Te menu changes monthly and focuses on in-season dishes; the price of a main course is still around 2-4000 HUF. The selection consists of three soups, about 5 main courses, 3 vegetarian dishes, kids' specials and the dessert - this is definitely not a thick, csárda-style menu with page numbers close to that of Crime and Punishment. Instead of quantity, the place focuses on experimental kitchen, and exciting novelty flavour combinations.
We tried the vegetarian goat's cheese-ramson risotto and the apple-beetroot-pumpkin seed salad with the dressing of the house, but meat fans can also expect similar specialities. The April menu lists unusual combinations, like the chicken breast served with rose water rhubarb and asparagus, or the lamb ragout served with feta cheese, tomato and mint potatoes. Keeping nearby office personnel in mind, they also have a daily lunch menu with 2 or 3 courses.
Chef Balázs Elek isn't intimidated by experimenting. He says his menu is shaped by the list of available fresh ingredients. Sparhelt buys its cheese and meat from local small producers, and the vegetables from the farmers markets in Káptalantóti and Tihany. After all the ingredients are procured, the brainstorming can begin.
Sparhelt will also have a new line thanks to its soon-to-open delicatessen, where you'll be able to eat breakfast from 8 AM.
The new store will stock home-baked bread, and Balaton cheeses and jams, but there are also plans to sell the wines of the Balaton region that are served in the restaurant.