When we rounded up the amazing newcomers of the north shore, we promised that we’ll take a glance at the south shore as well. We think that the two sides are developing in very differently. It seems like there’re more traces of socialism on the south, and most of the innovative businesses are trying to work out how to deal with the legacy of the previous system. Some turned an inn with an arbor into a burger place, while others turned a noble's decayed mansion into a magnificent guesthouse. Of course there are other stories as well so let's take a look at them.
Stale toast bread with some spread on the terrace of the guesthouse? Those who think of this as the staple south shore breakfast should head to Rácz Bakery in Keresztúr where they can learn what real bread is like. What it's like when it's made with real leaven instead of yeast, without any compromises. There's no place for any of that here: Józsi Rácz and his family wouldn't put an imperfect product on the shelf even if it was the last thing they could sell. Here the proverb is true: the early bird catches juicy “pogácsa”. What's that like? One has to taste it to understand.
A Konyhám opened among the hake and lángos selling spots on the beach of Balatonfenyves this summer bringing something new there with quality burgers and absolutely atypical beach-food creations. Their tortizza, the marriage of pizza and tortilla was even nominated for the Beach Food of the Year Award. They also serve breakfast with delicious coffee and homemade croissants for the hungry travelers.
Dani Bezerics is a prominent figure of Balaton’s hospitality scene. He once again has a new project, which is Pavilon, a beach buffet franchise that is supposed to serve the quality meals of Paletta and Kishableány on paper plates down at the beach. The latest buffet opened at the one-of-a-kind dog beach of Fonyód, where dogs can finally freely swim in Lake Balaton while the owners can have a Beach Food of the Year nominated Pulled Carp sandwich. Win-win.
Those who would like to try what it’s like to be a 21st century count or countess should visit Villa Bogart in Alsóbogát. This is a ruined Festetics-Inkey chateau with all the buildings that belong to it; here you can sit on the terrace and sip homemade elderflower cordial, watch vintage cars, or take a segway for a ride. The rural idyll, the rustic atmosphere, and the benevolent inertia are only broken by the occasional birdsong. What could be more relaxing?
Forget about fake buns stuffed with disappointing fillings and dive shamelessly into a good burger at Rock Burger in Balatonlelle. It was the dream of Zsigmond Szívós’ foster father to open a place similar to Hard Rock Café at Lake Balaton. Zsigmond keeps this dream alive by selling burgers named after rock bands at the old parlor of his granddad. We can recommend the Deep Purple or the Red Hot Chili Peppers burgers even for fans of techno or Mozart.
Turul in Szólád was meant to be a festival but it ended up as a great restaurant, and we really don’t mind this turn of events. Despite being named after the mythological bird of Hungarian legends, the selection here isn’t ancient: they have sabji, for example, but they do not serve pizza because they only make meals that they can make in a high quality. Turul is the odd one out because it’s not exactly new; however, it keeps developing and changing. They also took a step towards the festival-dreams by organizing a cultural event series this August, one that hopefully will become a mini-festival eventually.
Far from the noisy beaches that are named after precious metals, Melba has been operating in the center of Siófok since last year – here we can rest in the company of exquisite desserts and Italian coffees. The confectionery is a family affair: after many decades of being merchants in Siófok, the owner Ildikó and her husband decided that it’s time to make their childhood dreams come true and following the confectionery school they went straight to the renowned New York Café to learn. Although we haven’t seen their certificate, we gave them an A and this is partly because of their own cake, the creamy, crunchy Melba-slice with caramel and hazelnut.
A couple from Nagykőrös decided to give up everything to open a confectionery in Siófok. The plan worked out so well that now it’s almost like they have to hide Villa Gréta away from the guests: the news about their desserts travelled far and now so many people come here that they can barely keep up with the demand. Still, they don’t want to become a factory, and according to them, they really aren’t in it for the money – they want to give quality desserts for the people. The quality is actually so great that Balázs Csapody, the chef of renowned Kistücsök who has a sophisticated taste, even called them the best confectionery of Lake Balaton; they’ve also been invited to have a presentation at the Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest.
Hedon is a brand known by all the beer-lovers of Hungary, but besides providing the good old liquid bread for us, they also bring some color to the life of the south shore. For he first time ever, they organized a small gathering at Chef Beach called Dondolo, and they recently opened a brand new tap room, where we can taste beers and relax in deck chairs while visiting the factory, two days a week, all year round. They have other exciting plans in store as well, but we can’t reveal them for now so let’s just say that it’s worth keeping an eye on them.
Mangalica Bistro can be found between Road 7 and M7 – it’s not exactly the south shore but it’s on the way there. Here we can start, or end a weekend at Lake Balaton with huge meats and locally brewed beers. The burgers, cold platters, and farm breakfasts are all made from the mangalicas they raise a few kilometers away from the restaurant. And, despite the great quality, here we don’t have to pay extra for the view like we have to a few kilometers away from here.
Translated by Emma Póli