Főzelékfaló Ételbár

Nagymező utca 18 [map]
Pest Centre, VI,
Opera (M1), 3 min
Cuisine>Hungarian

Rating: 6.9/10

Főzelék. What’s that then? Well… it’s a vegetable dish, caught somewhere between a stew and a soup. Thickened after cooking, this comes in any number of flavours - lentil, or potato, or pumpkin, or 'tasty', for example. I’m told it’s probably the healthiest traditional Hungarian meal.


Although I don’t really think of it as a ‘vegetable dish, caught somewhere between a stew and a soup‘. In fact, I always knew főzelék reminded me of something but couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was, until I started to write this. And I realised - it’s baby food. A thick, glutinous slop, never served warm enough to burn your child’s mouth and usually sweetened so that it slips down without causing any major upsets.

My intial exposure to it came not long after I arrived in Budapest, at Főzelékfaló, a cramped fast food restaurant on the corner of Nagymező and Andrássy. I was taken there by an ex-girlfriend who bought me a thick tomato főzelék with two pieces of bread dumped unceremoniously on a plastic tray. It tasted a bit like spaghetti hoops, if you were mad enough to sieve out the pasta and toss in a fair bit of sugar and flour. I paused occasionally to wipe my chin, wondering what on earth this weird muck was. Neither main nor appetizer, it wasn‘t going to fill me up. And sure enough, I was hungry again within the hour.

Apparently, the trick is to order your side dishes astutely. The fact that this is reasonably good for you is obviously a cause for concern, so Főzelékfaló have done their very best to redress the balance. A glass case on the counter offers all manner of deep-fried accompaniments - cheese, bread, chicken and cauliflower, to name a but a few. They'll give you a side plate and after that it's up to you. Toss the chicken in or keep it on the side? Of course, you could just copy the Hungarian next to you, who will have tossed it in.

The f
őzelék here is not bad at all, although some come out better than others. Their spinach version has a dense, but satisying flavour while the green pea tastes a lot better than it looks. On the other hand, Főzelékfaló's lentil dish seems pretty heavy on flour and short on lentils, while their pumpkin effort was entirely the wrong colour - perhaps my diabolical Hungarian caused something (the pumpkins) to get lost in translation. A side order with főzelék will come to around 750 ft, while főzelék and bread sets you back just 440 ft. This ételbár certainly isn't a bad bet for a cheap lunch, and there's even a 1...2...3...4...5! percent student discount available in the Moricz Zsigmond branch.

However, I suppose my main gripe is not with Főzelékfaló, but with the dish in general. This is that most canteens serve it lukewarm and without adding anything deep-fried, it doesn't feel like a main course. Which brings me back to my original point -
főzelék is coloured gunk, highly likely to appeal to a gurgling infant with a small stomach.

Make your baby a
főzelék baby! Perhaps I should start work on some marketing ideas right away.

Food: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 6/10

Value for money: 8.5/10

Andy T.

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