“All love is egoism gone wild,” Sándor Márai writes in one of his novels. If you love selected delicacies, cultivated entertainment and art nouveau interiors, you will be
at the best place in Café Ëgoist, near Széchenyi tér. The restaurant, which was reopened under this new name only last November, gives you a chance to relax to the max in an environment that feels like being back in the Hungary of the turn of the last two centuries.
The outside look of the building at 3 Honvéd utca is already quite unusual: mint-green façade, floral ornaments, curved window gables and two wooden doors to enter, with glass frames that remind you of a spider net. The Bedő house, built in 1903 to the plans of Emil Vidor, is one of the architectural treasures born in the era of art nouveau in Budapest. The former house of the Bedő family was fully renovated in 2007 with its façade restored with the help of historical pictures. It now houses the Hungarian Art Nouveau Museum – and since the end of 2015, Café Ëgoist too.
For antiquity lovers
Inside the Bedő house you will be overwhelmed by the imposing collection of art nouveau furniture, pictures and decorations. It’s hard to tell where the museum ends and where Café Ëgoist begins. It feels almost sinful to sit on one of the preppy art nouveau couches and take the menu card into your hands.
When Gábor Körmendi and Tamás Dér chose the name Ëgoist they meant nothing negative at all. “When we are thinking about egoists, we are talking about someone who is very self-confident in all areas of life; someone who likes himself and therefore wants a special treat every now and then,” Körmendi explains.
Furthermore, this is what the establishment was already called before the war, as one of the posters on the wall near the counter attests.
For food lovers
Fully in this spirit, Café Ëgoist promises its guests only the best selected ingredients available on the market: this way it tempts you with delicate bites already at breakfast time, such as croissant with truffle chutney.
Although Ëgoist does not have a warm kitchen, its exquisite cold plates serve very well as a light lunch or a snack. The Carpaccio plate, for example, with its thinly cut slices of raw beef sirloin sprinkled with parmesan served on a bed of fresh salad, is a real treat.
Passionate gourmets will surely enjoy the one-of-a-kind taste of the specialty of the house, a meat plate called “Le Grande Ëgoist“. The mixed plate contains serrano ham, pieces of Hungarian sausage made from the meat of the Mangalica pig seasoned and refined with truffles, and a homemade pâté that can be made of goose liver or game, depending on the daily offer.
Ëgoist is a place for hedonists, Körmendi emphasises, and therefore it should not be without sweet dishes. Right next to the counter they offer confectionery and colourful macarons, cookies and cakes. The highlight of the house is its own invention, the “Ëgoist” dessert plate. This is a specialty prepared in the style of a French tartelette containing three kinds of chocolate.
It’s nice to have a coffee with your cake, of course. This is where the particular degree of perfectionism of the café’s operators becomes obvious. You can choose from eight types of coffee, helped by a professional barista, and the espresso machine itself is an eye-catcher: its back is covered by dark brown leather, the filter holder is decorated with valuable wooden handles and a noble wooden label on the back reveals that this is a special model.
“This is my hobby,” Körmendi reveals. In his free time he takes apart espresso machines and upgrades them using some remarkable details. He calls the whole thing “Pimp my coffeemaker”.
For culture lovers
If you would like to treat your mind the same way you treated your palate, you should take a look at the café’s event calendar. There are new cultural events offered almost every week; the Culture Salon, for example, where recognised experts with an art, cultural or scientific background are invited to speak about their area of expertise.
The series of events “Gastro Art” presents things to know about the kitchen of foreign countries, complete with both presentations and tastings. The latest such event looked at Spanish delicacies and wines. So far the presentations have only been in Hungarian and it is planned to organise them in German as well.
3 Honvéd utca, District V
Open Monday to Saturday 9am-7pm
Reservations at (+36) 70 643-2331
Breakfast: HUF 600-1400
Cold dishes and salads: HUF 1400-2900
Sweet dishes: HUF 350-850
Coffee specialties: HUF 450-750