As the new kid on the block, Mazel Tov has a lot of expectations to live up to. Opening its doors next to Fogas Ház and Fogas Kert on Akácfa utca, this new ruin pub needs to find something unique to set it apart. Taking over the building that once housed Sufni G’RT’N and Urimuri, Mazel Tov is Budapest’s latest ruin pub – but one with a difference.
Instead of embodying the gritty underground vibe found at Szimpla and Fogas Ház, Mazel Tov offers a ruin pub with a classy Jewish feel. For a start, the clean décor utilising urban chic with tile work, creative lamps and wrought-iron chairs gives the place a grown-up and sophisticated ambience, and the table service makes it a comfortable and relaxed place to dine.
Mazel Tov embraces the neighbourhood’s Jewish heritage, not only in name but also in spirit. Contemporary Israeli and Jewish funk play in the background, not to mention the venue has already got prime line-ups ready for an active part in the Jewish Summer Festival, but there is also a mouth-watering Middle Eastern menu with an alternative slant, thanks to the establishment’s partnership with the Hummus bar chain.
Despite the connection to the famous falafel chain, the menu and dishes are quite different in both variety and presentation. You can find marinated kebabs and grilled meats alongside creative variations of hummus- and tahini-based sauces and dips.
While there is an extensive menu, the success of the opening weekend left the restaurant a little under stocked, so when The Budapest Times made it there, there was only a handful of dishes left.
The Labane, a yogurt-based dip made with cheese and olive oil and accented with the special house spice, served up with home-made fresh pita, makes a delicious starter or snack to share. The sauce manages to capture both a creamy texture and a tangy bite from the cheese. There is a subtle accent of spice with a slight pleasant bitterness that pairs well with the aroma of the olive oil.
Aubergine lovers will dig the grilled aubergine topped with green tahini. A whole aubergine has been sliced in half and grilled until it has broken down into a tender paste and topped with a tahini sauce that has been infused with herbs, such as coriander.
Mazel Tov has a lot of potential both as a bar and as a restaurant. The space is perfect in the summer, and even with its elegant look it welcome bikes and dogs, and the food is high-quality Middle Eastern cuisine with a gourmet accent and presentation. However, with the bar and restaurant having only been open for a few days there are some clear teething problems.
Apart from the issue that the kitchen had run out of most of the menu, the staff still have to get oiled up to function more efficiently. The servers are all friendly and attentive but once the crowds begin to hit the bar, sometimes it might require that you ask for the bill three times.
Mazel Tov is a ruin pub for grown-ups, for those who enjoy the thrill of recycled spaces combined with the comforts that come with a sit-down dinner. There is a selection of wines, beers and cocktails, along with gourmet lemonades such as the ginger and elderflower classic.
It’s a vegetarian and vegan friendly menu, and Mazel Tov’s ambitions to become a cultural centre make this one the bar and bistro to watch.