Keszthely-triathlon-en

Searching for the best country tavern around Lake Balaton

December 16, 2014 15:50 - I love Balaton
Searching for the best country tavern around Lake Balaton

We are near Hévíz, in the Öreg harang (Old Church Bell) wine-house, which was selected to be the small restaurant of the year by Gault&Millau, completely deservedly.

The adventure began with a lovably scrawny waiter, who practically returned the word scrawny into my active vocabulary and provided it with some positive values. Just imagine as a young Keith Richards, strongly resembling captain Sparrow staggers out of the kitchen and while holding a tablet in his hand starts muttering the menu to himself with the humor of András Szőke. Piggy, the curly-bristled piggy, we fry  it, there is garnishment next to it with mushrooms and cream, that doesn’t matter, but listen to this one, you will be interested in this one: bunny rabbit, they love it, we serve it with fresh vegetables, the bunny rabbit is crumbly, soft, you will love it too.

I had never heard such an incomprehensibly targeted description, as I did in Öreg harang (Old Church Bell) wine-house, and in this context it wouldn’t even sound offensive that as you are ordering cola, the waiter says: you should drink that at home. It would have been unbelievable if he had said anything else, and this way it was simply very funny. And he is also correct: they serve wonderful wines and homemade syrups, and they don’t serve them in plastic cups. And beside the scrawny style let’s mention that I have only experienced such pleasant, attentive service in very few places. So this is one of the strengths of the place.

One of them. Because the other is the food. Listen to this: I don’t even know when I ate something so good in a Hungarian establishment. Specifically, the spicy goat soup was possible the best soup I have ever had, and the onion soup with white pepper was not far behind. Both of them are vibrant, wholesome, full flavored soups made of fine raw materials with excellent technique.

The main course was in the same category: we ate pork of curly-bristled pig with hash browns and a garnishment of mushrooms, vegetables and bacon, and of course the bunny rabbit as well, and everything was fantastic, viewed from any aspect, because at the Old Church Bell wine-house we find ourselves in the best overlap of wine and dine: the establishment represents the wildness of home-cooking, its overwhelming power, but lacks its ‘get it over with’, amateur characteristic. The foods are prepared with the care characteristic of fine dining, they strive to use fine raw materials and technique, but they refrain from the high-brow characteristic of that genre, which expects the consumer to not only be hungry but an art lover as well. In a certain interpretation this is the pinnacle of the form of collective dining, the type of quality that you could tolerate every day (in contrast with a Michelin-star menu), and what you would also deserve every day. The only problem is that there are very few such places in the world.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet that their homemade strudel is also fantastic. For one person, with three courses, it costs about HUF 6 thousand, thus the establishment is perfectly priced between the HUF 5 thousand country taverns that are of rather low but still acceptable quality and the HUF 7 thousand top restaurants. It’s HIGHLY recommended.

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