Hungarian cuisine: does it ring a bell? What do you imagine when you hear these words? Most of us probably don’t think of much more than goulash and heavy use of paprika, right?
In fact, Hungarian food is much more than that. It’s an exciting melting pot of tastes, influenced by the cuisines of its geographical neighbours – Austria, Slovakia and the Balkans – from the time when all these countries were part of the Austro–Hungarian Empire. So, if you are not a vegetarian on a diet, but rather a fan of hearty soups, stews and casseroles (and meat in particular), Bock Bistro & Vinotek is something you should definitely not miss out on.
The owners of this fantastic establishment are no strangers to the restaurant business. Peter Sarvari, who is one of the co-owners and a sommelier by profession, has been importing Hungarian wines to Denmark since 2007 – he knows a lot about them. We were very lucky to have him as our host during the evening we decided to dine there, and we have frequent cause to mention how good a decision it was to let him select all the wines that went with our dishes.
We started with Hungaria, a Champagne-like sparkling wine based on Chardonnay. It was nicely lively on the tongue and delicately sweet. The drink was soon followed by a surprise starter from the chef Krisztian Balogh – an opening salvo that, as we learnt, changes every night, according to the available ingredients. It was a ‘frikadelle’ made of red fish and wasabi mayo, which unlike the Danish version was made of whole fish meat, not minced.
Our real starter then followed: Carpaccio with baked fois gras – a very famous local delicacy in Hungary. The two dominant tastes were very strong, but went surprisingly well together; however, no-one would probably be able to eat more than half a portion of this, because it was incredibly filling.
All the starters on the menu were very tempting. For those of you not so familiar with Hungarian food, I would definitely recommend trying Lecso with smoked sausage – a sort of ragout with bell peppers, which is one of the basic dishes that every Hungarian grandma makes. Tastes like heaven, especially in cold Danish weather.
The dish was accompanied by Hungary’s most famous red wine, Egri Bikaver, which translates as Bull’s Blood from Eger. The wine, made of a special blend of grape varieties from northern Hungary, predominantly Kekfrankos, is deep, spicy and velvety and goes best with heavy meat dishes. This is the case with the Blood sausage – another sturdy local dish that is unfortunately only on the menu during winter months, as it is traditionally eaten especially around
Christmas time in Hungary. But you can try your luck and ask the manager whether they can serve you a piece. This dish is unique and you will remember its powerful and specific taste long after.
Our main dish was the Fillet of veal a la Kedvessy with homemade gnocchi, mushroom ragout, creamy dill and paprika sauce. Sounds very elaborate, but the taste was superb, the meat incredibly tender and the gnocchi much heavier than the Italian variety, which went perfectly with the creamy, herby sauce.
No matter what you choose for dessert, do not forget to order a glass of Tokaji Aszu, a sweet wine and pretty much a dessert in itself. A wine with an enviable, well deserved reputation is part of the Hungarian national treasure, and if you are curious about the taste, do not hesitate to ask the restaurant manager about how is it made – you might appreciate it even more afterwards.
Dag Hammarskjölds Alle is a peculiar street through which you normally just swing by on your bike on the way from the centre to Østerbro or vice-versa. There was absolutely no reason to stop, unless you were going to the US Embassy. However, since last November, when the doors to the newly-established Bock Bistro & Vinoteak opened, there is now a very good reason to go astray.
Bock Bistro & Vinotek
Dag Hammarskjölds Alle 7, Cph Ø;
3313 9194; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Open daily 12:00-15:00 & 17:00-23:00, closed Sundays;
Top Dish: Blood sausage
Price Range: Starters 85-120kr, Mains 174-245kr