It seems that we are not alone: a couple of Balaton food stand owners are also fed up with the traditional frozen fries-lángos-hot dog beach food selection. We visited two “rebellious” food stands on the north shore that serve 2.0 beach food made from ingredients provided by local small-scale producers. We sampled some of their most exciting creations.
A quick recap of what we have learnt so far:
Originally named Vén kalóz, now simply called Kalóz, this food stand has been welcoming guests on the Fövenyes Beach for twelve years. The traditional Balaton beach food menu they started with has completely vanished over the years, and was replaced by such treats as sausages or fresh, savoury pancakes filled with spinach and cottage cheese. Attila Nagy, one of the managers decided that radical change was needed when he realized that guests were faced with the same unimaginative menu at every food stand around Balaton.
What a shame, he thought, especially since the Balaton region is brimming with quality ingredients sold by local small-scale producers, which, with a creative spin, could be turned into something far better than frozen breaded cheese with fries. In line with that train of thought, the menu of the food stand includes fish and chips made from Balaton bighead carp and catfish, grilled Vászoly camembert with delicious elderberry salad and lavender-chocolate crepes, which present a flavour combination that is out of this world. Syrups are supplied by Kékkút’s Levendula Porta and the ice cream comes from the Bergmann Confectionery in Füred.
No need to worry: if you’re looking for trusted flavours instead of fancy dishes, you’ll find hamburgers that fit much more into the traditional beach food selection. Of course, the meat for the patty comes from a Balaton butcher’s, from Pörc in Balatonkenese, to be exact. The buns are not yet made locally, but that’s something the owners would like to change.
We can attest to the fact that destroying one of their killer hamburgers packed full of sauerkraut and onions is a mighty challenge, even if you sit down with an empty stomach, but thankfully guests can customize their own burgers, determining what filling should be added or how well done the patty should be.
The menu has a permanent section, but “Zoliséf”, the chef of the establishment, who also teaches at the cooking school of Gundel, lives for experimentation. The new dishes are displayed on the menu boards every weekend. The opening of their show kitchen is just around the corner, so guests will soon be able to actually see how their catfish kebab or the savoury pancakes are made – Attila says it’s about gaining the trust of the patrons because everyone tends to believe their own eyes more. The design of the food stand is just as important as the food: you’ll not find a beach umbrella with the Soproni brand or an old billboard advertising Magnum ice cream, but you can read about the joint’s namesake, the first sailing boat of Balaton, on the walls.
The prices are a little bit higher than at similar, more mainstream stands. The sizeable Kalóz bitang burger costs 1,500 HUF, while the filled savoury pancakes go for 550-900 HUF. The only drawback is that the eatery is located on the territory of Fövenyes’ paying beach, so you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of 400 HUF on top of the price of your meal, which can be avoided if you arrive after closing time – it can definitely be done, as Kalóz is open every day from 10am to 10pm.
If you’re ever at the beach in Zánka, you cannot ignore the recently opened Neked főztem (meaning I cooked it for you in Hungarian), as it is located right next to the entrance. The stand is run by the wife of Kővirág’s chef with creative assistance from her husband, which in itself is a guarantee for new wave cuisine. The concept is very similar to the one employed by Kalóz in Fövenyes: freshly made, seasonal dishes, well known flavours with a twist and, of course, fresh ingredients supplied by local small-scale producers.
The meat the patty is made from is produced at a mangalica farm in Káptalantóti, the syrups are provided by Kapolcsikum, and the wines all come from the Balaton region – for example, the wines of Káli-kövek are sold at the especially affordable price of 200 HUF/dl. Let’s talk about the indispensible beach food group, the burger: we tried the interpretation of Neked főztem served with home-made potato wedges and super tasty coleslaw with dill, shallots and fresh carrots in a bun from a Nagyvázsony bakery.
The fixed part of the menu is not a prominent feature of the joint; there’s plenty of room for experimentation as well. Permanently available dishes, such as hamburgers, sit side-by-side with a regularly updated selection of seasonal creations on the boards. Last week we tried cold cream of strawberry soup and dill-infused squash stew with fried chicken breast – both had very characteristic flavours. The menu also includes chicken fajitas, and the grilled goat cheese with mixed salad will surely pique the interest of vegetarian visitors.
The price range of the main dishes is 1,300-1,600 HUF with soups starting at 600 HUF. The only weakness of the stand is that it mostly operates on a takeaway basis, as there are only a couple of tables to sit down at. For the time being, they are open from Friday to Monday between 11am and 8pm, but once the season gets into full swing, they’ll stay open on other days as well.