Review: Bock Bisztró, District VII
Set in the same cluster of buildings as the Corinthia Hotel Budapest along the Nagykörút, Bock Bisztró offers fine food in a classy but relaxed environment, half-way between open-plan bar and restaurant. It has recently branched out into Hungarian and Asian-influenced breakfast offerings. But its mainstays remain Hungarian cuisine, often of the kind that is least likely to figure among Budapest’s top-end restaurants, such as the humble but nutritious hurka (blood sausage) or the cracklings currently on the menu.
Hungarian gastronomic tradition is not renowned for its friendliness to vegetarians, a point that is driven home by a quick perusal of the menu and the specials on the board, although there is also a number of shellfish, and freshwater and seawater fish options on offer. The wine list, exclusively Hungarian, is excellent. Service, too, is polite and attentive.
The amuse-bouche of herby pork fat served with sliced raw red onion, strong green pepper and good, homemade bread reveals some of the roots of Bock’s inspiration in upmarket peasant food.
The starters show the versatility of Bock’s kitchen: the smoked trout with its vegetable garnish, and smoked paprika and Hungarian sturgeon egg sauce, is firm and delicately tasty.
The beef carpaccio, served in a thin roulade with goose liver, extremely soft and crumbly in texture, and just relieved by a touch of salt flakes, is in itself delicious with its light salad and cheese shavings.
Its accompaniment of goose liver, topped with sushi ginger, smoked eel and wasabi sauce is imaginative but perhaps somewhat too complex and overwhelming for the delicate taste of the carpaccio.
From the specials board, the lobster cappucino with its tiger prawn cheviche provides an intriguing take on the coffee concept, while the creamy meat stew with porcini mushrooms and celery offers a really delicious alliance of tastes and textures.
Among the main courses, the pike perch, served on a bulgur base, is again a nice, firm, well cooked and delicately flavoured fish dish.
The neatly presented ox cheek in sauce, with dumpling, lightly fried onion and garlic, and bone marrow, is rather rich, naturally because of the meat (which is very well cooked, just tender enough) and because of the dry nature of the dumpling, where extra vegetable content would help to lighten up the whole dish.
The honey-drizzled, dill-flavoured cottage-cheese pie is perhaps not the most obvious dessert choice, especially after a rich meal, but the dill does bring a refreshing note; the croquambouche base, made of a nut and crumbled cake mix, is crunchy and flavourful, and balances well with the compact nature of the cheese part.
Starters & soups: HUF 950-3,700
Mains: HUF 3,400-6,700
Dessert: HUF 350-1,100
Wine (bottle): HUF 3,700-21,000
District VII, Erzsébet körút 43-49 (entrance on the street)