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Pinyó – from tired tavern to Balaton discovery of the year


  • Chilembu Krisztina

10/09/2019 6.29pm

Pinyó, officially Pinyó, több mint büfé ('More Than a Buffet'), won the Discovery of the Year award at this year’s Balaton Beach Food competition. Operated by an enthusiastic young couple, this Keszthely eatery offers classic Hungarian dishes of great quality.

Standing out from other nearby eateries, Pinyó has a design that is simple but organised, resulting something rather inviting, even if you have no idea that this is indeed one of the most promising restaurants at Lake Balaton.


Martin Benjámin Pacsai and Tamara Horn both studied tourism before inheriting the place from Martin’s grandfather. It was sort of a legendary spot, called Pinyó Csárda – everybody in the area knew it. It was open all year round, serving mulled wine and lángos in winter. Although the tavern remained open after the old man passed away in 2009, it closed in April, 2019, when the then operators decided to leave.

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

The family had held on to the place, so Martin left St. Andrea Wine & Skybar in Budapest, and the couple moved to Keszthely to start the new adventure. It was a risk, of course, as Pavilon sor, where the eatery is located, isn’t known for its new-wave tendencies.

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Still, they decided to stand by their values and carry on in the way that they wanted, as Martin put it. At first, it didn’t work out. As Martin said, they wanted to show too much. They hoped to stick with Hungarian cuisine with an emphasis on bistro style, but the guests who came soon after the opening didn’t exactly appreciate it at the time. And so they had to reinvent themselves.

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

The new menu

Classic Hungarian dishes now provide the foundation for the menu: you can find grilled sausages, hake and lángos here (with cheese and sour cream: 990 HUF). This is made with top-quality flour, resulting in a delicious dough and a slightly higher price tag. The cold berry soup is served in a bottle (1,290 HUF), and it has proved very popular since the beginning. You can pour it over the crunchy, gluten-free granola and mixed fruit on your plate. It’s all spiced up with a bit of elderflower jelly.

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

The vegetable stew (1,190-1,590 HUF) is made bistro-style, either with sausages, frittata or only vegetables. The Hortobágyi palacsinta, a savoury crepe filled with meat (1,890 HUF) is outstanding, while you can also order a trio of burgers.

Photo: Kristóf Hölvényi - We Love Balaton

What the future holds

This year, Pinyó will be open until the end of September. For now, it’s uncertain whether they will reopen in 2020, or even remain at the same spot.

Photo: Kristóf Hölvényi - We Love Balaton

The couple move back to Budapest after September, working on the opening of their own restaurant or bistro. According to Martin, they fell in love with the countryside. Maybe they will open a place near Budapest, maybe somewhere in Somogy County – or, since nothing is set in stone, they might end up back at Lake Balaton.

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