Genuine and unexpected: Paprika & Vesztergombi Merlot
Being a tourist in my home town, Budapest (I have moved abroad for a while), I usually take the opportunity to catch up with changes in local gastro scene. However today I simply needed a place to sit down and prepare for a meeting, and near Heroes’ square it is a serious challenge. Closed, once fancy bars, tobacco shops or packed office canteens are the only alternatives. And ’Paprika Vendéglő’. ’Vendéglő’ is type of restaurant, informal, usually rustic, like a trattoria). It definitely looks extremely touristic with every obligatory ingredient – thatched ceiling, stove oven, ceramics with folk motifs. I had given up all my hopes, when a middle-aged, smiling waitress came over to me, her smile was honest and she was joking, she took me to a table and within seconds I received my Jókai soup – a traditional, soup like casserole type dish. It was so delicious! Melting smoked knuckle, tender beans, root vegetables, cream to make it smoother, invigorating spices – I loved every spoon of it, even though I wasn’t hungry at all, I just wanted to kill some time. And the price: 4 euros! Plus: I hadn’t expected this place to have a wine list, but it had! Several wines are available by the glass, and it was a pleasure to discover Vesztergombi Merlot on the list. Young winemaker Csaba Vesztergombi has just introduced this wine to me, a decent ’every day’ wine, a lighter type of Merlot, not jammy, but more like the fruity, refreshing type of Merlot wines. With just the right amount of acidity along with Jókai soup it was a perfect treat. I learnt my lesson: true hospitality exists, and sometimes in unexpected places. It is not a fine dining place, but the staff wants to give a warm and hearty welcome to visitors from all over the world.