You don’t have to settle for oil-drenched lángos or overpriced fish soup anymore because there are more and more places around Lake Balaton offering dishes made from quality ingredients. We tested the up-and-coming eateries of Balatonfüred: all of them are something a bit out of the ordinary, and spending a nice dinner in any of them won’t leave you strapped.
Right next to the Füred ship terminal, Vitorlás Restaurant probably draws most of its guests in with the gorgeous view. It is housed in a hundred-year-old national heritage building: the interior has gone through a major revamp, and the result is laid-back, but still modern and elegant.
Naturally, the spacious outdoor terrace is a popular spot in the summertime, where you can munch on fried fillet of pike-perch or a slice of grilled wels catfish while admiring the sailing boats as they leave the harbour. Apart from Balaton fish, you will also find goose, duck, chicken and pork dishes on the menu. We loved the fried chicken breast filled with cheese, bacon and leek, served with steamed rice, a light summer meal in the scorching heat. Starters go for HUF 1,200-2,500, and main dishes cost around HUF 2,500-5,500.
Matróz has only been open for a couple of weeks, but the locals say it is sure to have a successful future ahead because the street and finger food culture has been non-existent here so far. Kazinczy Street has temporarily moved from Budapest to Füred to the great satisfaction of the youth. The design of the bar tucked away in one of the villa gardens behind Tagore Promenade has been dreamed up by Gáspár Bonta and executed by Szabolcs Kövessy. Every little detail has been meticulously thought out: the ham platter is served on a fish-shaped wooden board as a not so subtle reminder of that oversized puddle nearby called Balaton. Dávid Molnár, the former chef of the Boscolo Hotel in Budapest, cooks up dreamy gastronomic treats day after day: there is a wide range of reasonably priced sea fish and tapas fillers in the food bar.
We tried the sesame-seed tuna steak and some grilled goat cheese from the main dish selection, both of which were something else, but we loved the tenderloins with black mussels and cep risotto most of all. Main dishes are around HUF 2,500 with the various creams, cheeses and meats for tapas platters costing roughly HUF 500.
Matróz will soon start offering picnic baskets with finger foods and chilled drinks, which could be the perfect packed lunch for Balaton sailing excursions. Even though our visit to the covered garden took place just a couple of days after opening, we could already tell by looking at the beachy interior and the wide variety of cocktails that Matróz will become a Füred nightlife favourite in no time.
A bit further away from Tagore, the building of the two-hundred-year-old Baricska Csárda sits among the vine rows of the Baricska hills. The traditional Hungarian-style inn has gone through a couple of makeovers and extensions and can sit several hundred guests at a time. This place is a legend impossible to miss, with a myriad of stories from the past: for example, this is where Péter Máté, the late Hungarian pop icon, recorded his famous song called Azért vannak a jó barátok.
Last year the owners of the Chianti Restaurant in Veszprém took over the management of the csárda, keeping the selection of Hungarian dishes, but taking them to the next level with a twist. The bread served with the fish soup is spiced up with dried tomatoes, and the flavours of the lecho that comes with the tenderloins are reminiscent of Mediterranean cuisine. For HUF 2,000-3,000 you get the usual csárda portions and dishes made from quality ingredients, but don’t count on getting a table here without reservation after Friday.
The huge terrace is covered with a dense vine-arbour, ensuring a pleasant climate in the summer heat. Live Gypsy music makes lunch go down more easily, but the tastefully simple tablecloths and table setting give off a modern vibe. Past and present is combined in the csárda’s interior as well: the authentic farmhouse opens onto a glass veranda.
Set up at the Biobalaton eco- and artisan market, Malackrumpli Bistro is a good choice not only because of the wide variety of food made from organic ingredients, but also because of the wallet-sparing prices. Their soups, served in paper cups, are easily as good as their counterparts in Budapest: the chard soup with gomolya cheese topping and the palóc potato soup sprinkled with paprika sausage chunks are especially worth a try.
The peaceful co-existence of the market and Malackrumpli is no accident: the bistro has a strict policy of using fresh ingredients only, which is a major determining factor in what is on the menu each day. The last few days have been characterized by “burger fever”, resulting in creations that would be strong contenders even in the hamburger galore of Budapest. Honourable mention goes to the sous vide pork neck and the brioche with calves liver pate. Wash them down with a glass of craft beer or choose from the best wines in the Balaton wine region.
If you want to find out what Balatonfüred has to offer to those with a sweet tooth, check out our compilation of the best confectioneries here.