The Grumpy Shop in Budapest
There is a famous saying that goes “When in Rome do as the Roman’s do!” But we completely forgot this whilst in Budapest.... and did the Italian way in Hungary!
Budapest is about twice the size of Liverpool and they are very lucky to have no less than SIX Michelin starred and many more very good restaurants. So when in Budapest you would expect (maybe) for us to review this capital city’s Hungarian restaurants. Sadly we had chosen the one time when many places close for the Saint Stephen’s Day holidays. Now don’t let Tripadvisor put you off… this little restaurant doesn’t even make their top 30!! That said only ONE of the six Michelin starred restaurants DO make the top 30… so that probably tells you a lot about Tripadvisor ratings!
Now when we spoke to locals they recommended the “Bottega di Brontolo” which was actually an Italian restaurant set in an old bank. Bottega di Brontolo translates to Grumpy Store but the waitress told us it got its name after the Head Chef being so grumpy. This part of town is known for quality restaurants and this one backs onto Onyx which is a two star… so the grumpy chef has a lot to compete with.
The inside looked unlike a bank but was instead like stepping into a wine cellar. Despite this is was bright and clean looking and the welcome we got from staff was very nice. It had a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere with open brick ceiling and tiled walls. The door had a lovely and quite unique contraption that used a magnum of champagne to weigh down the closing mechanism. Once seated we were given a cotton tea towel as a napkin, reminding you this is Italian home cooking. No frills here. Old champagne bottles and silver candelabras make up table lamps and all is very relaxed.. A basket with slices of brown and white loaf arrive to go with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table and we are left to read the Italian and Hungarian scripted menu. I chose the salmon carpachio with fennel for starter and a seafood risotto for main.
The salmon starter was on a bed of fennel. Red cabbage, pomegranate seeds and orange segments were scattered around and olive oil mixed with black pepper and fennel leaves completed the dish. This was simple, hearty, very tasty food and good for my waistline!! Pook loves seafood and chose the Octopus soup. The Octopus was so tender and the soup full of flavours of the sea. She helped this down with some rustic bread and olives.
Main. Course and OMG… four large prawns with mussels, clams, squid and served on a bed of rice and tomatoes. Fantastic! It looked and tasted divine and if I had a bigger stomach I would have ordered a second plate. By the end of the main I was full and completely satisfied. The dish was hearty, flavoursome and plentiful (something lacking in many places serving food this good).
I didn’t care what Pook said I knew my dish was better. She had chosen the grilled octopus with beans, roasted pepper and white pepper bells in chardonnay sauce. She was absolutely amazed how tender and delicate the octopus was… so much so that she asked to speak with the chef about how he managed it. He was delighted to speak with us about his cooking and went on to explain that many people just don’t give the octopus time to settle after cooking and it needed plenty of time to rest before grilling for final plating. The pomegranate seeds, crunchy purple cabbage and carrot ribbons gave this dish many textures. Pook said the final beauty of her dish was the sauce that brought it all together harmonising both flavours and textures.
By now, with healthy and hearty food inside us we would normally have called it a day.. but even though I am full, I want to try dessert. I chose an Italian dish called a Zabaione, normally made with an Italian dessert wine, the waitress used a similar Hungarian one called Tokaji. The waitress brought over a gas hob and made this dish at the table…we will probably show how to make this as a video. It was, as all the full had been, a lovely offering. Pook thought she had got away without a dessert but a casual question from the waitress when we arrived had led to Pook letting slip it was her birthday. Not to miss an opportunity to showcase food, the lights were dimmed a little and the waitress brought out a small birthday cake for Pook… the remaining guests in the restaurant joined in the traditional Happy Birthday song.
Pook wrote that Bottega di Brontolo was Super warm, Super Welcome, Super delicious Italian food in an old bank.
If we lived in Hungary we would travel 50 miles to eat there again… meaning if you are ever in Budapest you must try out this gem of a restaurant. The fact that the food part of this meal came to under £50 all-in means we felt it was great value value for money.