SZÉK restaurant – a pinch of Transylvania
Székely Land, an exciting and unique region of Transylvania (in Romania) has always had special importance for the Hungarian nation. Székelyföld is quite far from the Hungarian–Romanian border, but the people still speak Hungarian as their native language and they still keep their traditions. Thanks to a lady, who was born there, now Budapest can taste the authentic Székely dishes – accompanied by great Hungarian and Romanian wines!
The passionate team
Szidónia Varga, the CEO of the company managing SZÉK restaurant used to like hanging around in the kitchen as a child. Later she moved to Hungary, married and found her new home, but she still cooks the dishes of her childhood to recall the memories – and of course to please her family with the richness of flavours.
The chef, Sebestyén Réti has more than two decades of experiences in several fine dining places as well as in catering. He loves to face the challenge of pairing ancient recipes with the requirements of modern cuisine.
Andrea Kemenczei, the “head” of SZÉK also has a long history of working with gastronomy. She is fond of wines of the Carpathian basin, thus this new venture is more than suitable for her. She passionately seeks the perfect food and wine matches, preferably made of organic ingredients. She had the chance to discover the authentic tastes of Székely Land, and now she wants to introduce this magic rural world in the most chic avenue of Budapest.
Opening a place during COVID?
Andrea Kemenczei is not worried at all. As she commented ‘People need to spend time together with their friends, lovers go on dating, thus restaurants will always serve as a meeting point, a social space’. Secondly, the concept is unique, there is no competition. Traditional, authentic dishes but in an elegant way, fitting into the style of the glamorous Andrássy avenue. Thirdly, SZÉK operates with reasonable prices, an average family can afford to celebrate here and also office workers of the neighbourhood can enjoy a superb daily menu with great price value.
Csorba – the traditional soup with the obligatory lovage
The word ‘csorba’ means soup originally, but in Transylvania it mainly refer to a soup with sour character, made of root vegetables, meat and green herbs, of which lovage is unmissable. (Here is one recipe, but you will find several.) At SZÉK csorba soup contains roast veal meatballs, carrots, green beans, peas and sour cream.
Andrea Kemenczei is glad to share the success of SZEK csorba soups. As she says, this dish is the most popular plate of the restaurant along with stuffed paprika. As for all the plates here, most of the ingredients come from Székely Land. They offer local cheeses, fruit products and of course the bacon comes straight from Transylvania.
Pork tenderloin a la Brasov
While csorba soup is legendary all over Transylvania and even, pork a la Brasov style is an authentic dish of Székely Land. It is a one-plate meal, and a particularly delicious combination of tender and juicy meat with crisp potatoes (here is one recipe). At SZÉK the pork tenderloin slices sit on juicy, delicious gravy and the plate offers crispy textures as well besides the velvety gravy and the tender meat: crispy potato, bacon crisps and garlic chips.
Wine list “during labour”
SZÉK has been open for only a week, and as Andrea says it is a “silent opening”, the official opening press event is about to come. The wine list is also under construction, as Andrea says ‘This child is just being delivered, but it is hard labour’. The manager first wants to meet the needs of the guests.During this first week it turned out that Hungarian guests may want some international blockbusters as well, but certainly wines of the Carpathian basin are in focus. There will be labels from Hungarian wineries beyond the border (like Frigyes Bott from Slovakia), and of course they will pour wines from Transylvania. Wines of Géza Balla and a sparkling wine of Carassia is available already. But omitting the stunning wines of Hungary would be a mistake – Andrea believes and gives an example. ‘We have been good friends with Zsuzsanna Babarczi for a long time. When I tasted Babarczi Merlot, it was obvious that we have to include it on our wine list. Zsuzsa is the “Queen of Pannonhalma” wine region and this Merlot is absolutely gorgeous – plus it has a moderate price.’
Chimney cake according to the original recipe
Chimney cake is mostly a street food dessert nowadays, the protagonist of Christmas fairs all over Hungary and Transylvania (our earlier article about Chimney cake with a recipe). At SZÉK chimney cake is made according to the original recipe roasted over charcoal and served with homemade strawberry ice cream, crunchy caramel and caramel cream.