If the name Sophie & Ben sounds familiar then you have probably already been to Káldy Gyula utca, where a bistro with the same name has quickly established itself as one of the most popular burger locales in the city. In addition to the extraordinary burgers, you also get an extraordinary story about the opening of the place: Viktor Papp and György Tatár, the two owners of the casual fast-food restaurant, met in a Budapest gift shop, because both became a father on the same day.

From the exhausting but happy shared experience a friendship developed between the two, which finally resulted in a joint venture – the opening of their own restaurant. In honour of the joyous occasion that brought the two together, they named the place after their children. Sophie and Ben.


Refreshingly inconsistent

Almost three successful years later Tatár and Papp felt ready to open a second place, the Sophie & Ben Garden. They found an already operating restaurant in Hűvösvölgy, but – based on their own ideas and with the help of the young interior designer Tímea Hadnagy – they redesigned it completely.

Upon entering, you feel like you are in an urban tropical forest because the walls, as well as the bar, are painted with exotic floral arrangements, which somehow makes you long for remote landscapes. This view is balanced by otherwise discreet furniture: simple dark tables, seats of matt yellow velour and wooden chairs fill the room, while behind the bar various spirits are presented on shelves made from wine boxes.


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The real highlight of the place is its eclectic garden, where you have the choice to sit at wooden tables on the terrace, at French coffee tables on the lawn or in a couple of beach lounge chairs in the shade of a tree. "We didn’t just want furniture but furniture that tells a story," Tatár explains the very different elements of the design.

Lanterns hang from the surrounding trees, providing a romantic atmosphere, especially in the evening. But the owners paid particular attention to being a family-friendly place, where couples with children will also feel good. In the corner of the garden a jungle gym helps kids to spend some quality time, and there is a separate play room inside; even the menu offers specials for the youngest generation.

Classic with a twist

But the offerings for children are nothing compared to the delicacies found on the rest of the menu. There is a selection of the fan favourites from the original Ben & Sophie, such as the Juicy Lucy, a burger served with a large portion of melted cheddar sauce or the French-inspired Le Fromage with fig marmalade and a whole Camembert.


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But the Sophie & Ben Garden offers much more: "We wanted to offer a more elegant gastronomy here," Tatár explains. "That is why we hired help for the rest of the menu in the form of an Italian star cook, who designed the courses based on international classics but added a bit of Hungary. This resulted in dishes with a special twist.”

Among the appetisers the restaurant offers the goulasia, a goulash soup with a touch of the Far East through coriander, lime and other spices. A fruity leaf salad with beetroot, blackberry vinaigrette and a caramelised goat's cheese is particularly popular with lovers of French cuisine.

Main dishes include Italian gnocchi with veal ragout in a rosé wine sauce. With every new season there is a bit of variety in the menu, so the Sophie & Ben Garden guest will not get bored even after several visits.

Tatár and Papp are more than ready to meet the needs of their customers: "Although we didn’t offer it in the beginning, we added the cheddar cheese soup to the menu because our customers, who already know the Sophie & Ben from the city, have asked for it again and again.”

Conclusion

Although only a few weeks have passed since its opening, the Sophie & Ben Garden already has great potential to develop into a gastronomic refuge for those tired of bistros in downtown. With a homemade lemonade and delicious but always a bit surprising dishes, you can relax in the garden even during the hottest of days.

The restaurant is also a good idea for those who are planning a major event: the place offers an interior space for around 46 and outdoor seating for an additional 75 guests, making it ideal for a wedding or a corporate get-together.

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For the future, Tatár and Papp plan monthly gastro-events, for which a grill professional is planned to be invited for a special evening, so it is recommended to check out the website or the Facebook page of the restaurant from time to time.

Sophie & Ben Garden

Budapest, District II, Hidegkúti út 81

Open: Monday-Friday 11am-10.30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am-10.30pm

Reservations: (+36) 30 182-0100

See www.sophieben.hu/garden

Prices

Soups and salads: HUF 990-2990

Main courses and burgers: HUF 2890-3990

Desserts: HUF 990-2990

Fresh lemonade and syrups: HUF 750-790

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