Zeller Bistro has already earned a reputation: For years the restaurant was number one among the most popular places on the online rating platform TripAdvisor. Local magazines and travel guides helped to fire up the hype about the small family business.


From basement restaurant to scene restaurant

Zeller took its baby steps as a small basemen restaurant in Izabella Street near the traffic junction Oktogon, Anna Kopócsy tells us. She and her ex opened the restaurant in 2013. Both of them loved gastronomy, and they had met each other while working at the Budapest fine-dining restaurant MÁK.

Although she never trained to be a professional chef, Kopócsy used to do duty personally in the kitchen in the beginning: “I simply cooked the dishes that I really like myself. They were no great and elegant creations,” she remembers.

Zeller quickly managed to gain a substantial base of regulars. “We were surprised how this simple concept made us so popular in such little time. I suppose it had its charm. I was cooking but I also went out to the clients to have a chat with them.” After four years the original property in District VII became too small and Kopócsy started to look for a place with enough space for her continuously growing client base. She found it in District V, not far from St Stephen’s Basilica at 18 Hercegprímás Street.


Between the greenhouse and the farm

The new address used to host a hip bar and then a night-club. However, almost no traces of these remain. “We renovated almost everything completely,” Kopócsy tells us. Only the bar with green tiles in the restaurant’s entry area could be familiar to some people from the old times. The area where people danced under the light of disco balls has been filled by small and large tables surrounded by colourful wooden chairs.

The walls are decorated with colourfully painted doors in red, white and blue that have been randomly placed in horizontal and vertical directions. These elements along with the rustic wooden floor give the basement the charm of a small farmhouse.

Potted plants and folded paper birds hang from the ceiling and indoor palm trees as high as one and a half metres make you feel like you are sitting out in nature, or to be more precise in a greenhouse, since the large guest space is the former inner courtyard, covered by a glass ceiling. The smaller guest rooms, on the other hand, that can be rented for private events have a certain rustic homely flair.

In the evenings the already romantic atmosphere is enhanced by small acoustic bands.


Service comes first here

Greeting the guests is already a benchmark of their service, as you can hardly cross the doorstep before you are greeted by a glass of aromatic elderberry champagne – on the house. The sweet drink is a greeting from the Lake Balaton region, and one of the house specialties on Zeller’s drink card.

From here on, the guest will experience a swift flock of varied waiters and service teamwork. It’s a bit dizzying in one way but it does remind us of the glamour of elegant restaurants at the same time. Unlike in many other places in Hungary, Zeller’s staff is extremely friendly and chatty. Any questions about the menu and the wine card will be answered patiently and in detail, with a personal recommendation.

This openness might be a result of the mostly international clientele who are attracted to this chic city centre restaurant primarily thanks to the excellent TripAdvisor rating.


Solid selection of popular dishes

The menu at Zeller Bistro is built on the traditions of Hungarian cuisine but contains enough international classics to satisfy a broad public. Here you will find heavy meat dishes such as Hungarian woolly pig chops, lamb chops and of course grey cattle loin, but also lighter poultry and fish dishes such as smoked salmon bites with a red cabbage and apple salad. Vegetarian dishes are currently represented only with one appetiser from red beets.

To try something really special, order the venison garnished with carrots and blood orange. The wild pork ragout with vegetable-filled pasta pockets and the soft pink duck breast within cabbage wraps are also solidly reliable suggestions. As Kopócsy insists, Zeller’s kitchen works almost only with domestic, high-quality ingredients. The owner has personal contact and a trusting relationship with many of the rural producers, and some ingredients even come from her own relatives.

You can see on the menu that Zeller is a family restaurant. Some of the recipes, which have been there ever since the beginning, are from Kopócsy’s mother, who contributes to the restaurant with her baking skills. The cake of the day is produced freshly in her home workshop. Kopócsy is especially proud of the carrot cake, which is based on her grandmother’s recipe and is a speciality of the house.

#


Evaluation

Zeller Bistro is definitely recommendable and not due to the excellent kitchen. Don’t get us wrong, nothing is overly salted or burnt here. The menu offers a broad selection of well-liked dishes that are prepared with solid skills and lovingly garnished and served. However, despite its superior reputation the dishes are rather simple, meaning that sophisticated gourmets will at best yawn out of boredom. It could be this simplicity though that appeals to the broad masses. Lastly, Zeller does not want to be a fine-dining location at all costs.

Where the Pest city-centre bistro really excels is the atmosphere. Kopócsy has managed to create a magical place that seems to capture the flair of a careless summer day in the garden. Especially in the evening, when only candlelight and a few retro lightbulbs illuminate the tables, Zeller turns into one of the most romantic places of the Hungarian capital. It is the best place for first dates, wedding anniversaries and other such occasions.

It is advisable to make a reservation.


Zeller Bistro
Budapest, District V, 18 Hercegprímás Street
Open daily 12.00 to midnight, Mondays only from 18.00
Reservations at (+36) 30 651-0880
See www.zellerbistro.hu

Prices
Appetisers and soups: HUF 990-2600
Main dishes: HUF 3400-7100
Desserts: HUF 990-2900


Loading Conversation

RELATED POSTS
The news that made headlines

The Brief History of the Week

Geschrieben von BT

Presenting in one concise package the week’s most important and fascinating national stories,…

ComiX Coffee in District V

Inmates running the asylum?

Geschrieben von Attila Leitner

Briton Ben Innes became the very definition of cool on Tuesday. In case you missed this, the…

Protests, no apologies as government-teachers dispute widens

Fight of the roundtables

Geschrieben von BT

The civil public education platform representing the teachers’ movement, which calls itself an…