Pubfoods from all around Middle-Europe gather! – PUP OPENING: MALTeR, beer-restaurant, Budapest
Just a few days ago, MALTeR has opened its gates to the PUBlic in Akácfa street (VII. district in Budapet), to fill the long yawning gap and apply to be a leader of an important mission in Hungary; to route food and warm meals back to the pubs. Within its four walls, this place is bringing back the times, when a pub in Hungary still offered sophisticated but uncomplicated light meals. Its spirit and menu is literally shrinking the gap between the two most important activities in this style of Hungarian gastronomy as well; drinking and dining at the same time.
When I read their invitation to the MALTeR opening night, I also personally felt very addressed, because finally somebody answered its true calling and approaches the phenomenon, which has not been consolidated even after the explosive rise and revolution of local craft beers, street foods and party district: the real Hungarian pub-gastronomy.
Quote: “In the history of the Middle European pubs the ample and simple but home made food was a trivial and natural thing on the menu, this was unfortunately forgotten and ruined by the long decades of the communistic era. Thanks to this, nowadays it is a real rarity in Budapest if the food is not crappy in a pub – MALTeR is one of these rare birds. We actually have not invented anything new. We just lead the public back to its natural roots and traditions; the region’s classic pub foods.”
For me this is bulls eye, because I have this issue at heart. As for example the Czech Republic, Italy, England has its own taste and signature in pub foods, so Hungary shouldn’t prolong its too long accepted faith with the deprived trio of chips-nuts-ropi as majority. (ropi=salty sticks) How nice it can be in a Czech hospoda, when between two beers the waiter pushes some light utopenec, hermelin or anything of this sort into your aura, for just a few Czech crowns out of your pocket. Of course they have brought these sort of foods already to the tables in Hungary as well, along with other nation’s specialties. At several Czech style pubs in Hungary you can even eat some really traditional Czech meals, at many pubs or burger joints you can have a burger with your beer or a beer to your burger; to follow English or American traditions, but you may get bored of these quickly. It’s good to have these as well, we like it, we eat it, but still. It’s not ours, it’s not enough! We should make up our own menus out of our own very well known and delicious meals, lets put a Hungarian face on the pubfoods!
MALTeR is making a huge step in this matter as well. They are not the first to do that, because of course we have already seen some other interesting menu cards appear in other pubs in the city, but this place makes it definitly its mission and goal to serve this newly blossoming tendency. It is important to underline and frame this phenomenon intentionally. This could make them rise to another level in this matter. Let’s see how they plan to achieve these goals.
Despite its originality, MALTeR is not only offering Hungarian but also other close nation’s specialties, but with the main focus on Hungarian dishes, and this makes up for it. They work with a wider range, having all star Middle European foods all around on their menu. These Hungarian and foreign bites are only the building blocks of the final result, not the mould itself at this place. Révész Róbert, the owner of the place (his former reference is Felni – Bp. VI. district, Jókai street) says, the chef was specifically instructed to rethink and “spice up” every single title on the menu. This resulted such mind blowing and creative fusion foods for appetizers like a strudel-like pastry filled with black pudding and red cabbage in the Wellington style,
trotters-shashlik with raw green peas cream and the devilishly original boiled cabbage spiced up with some lentils,
The foreign dishes came in a more traditional interpretation, but even in this faithful and classical way, they are very rare to find in Budapest, so nobody even dared to think about asking for some whipped cream with or pork grease and saffron on the top to shake them up a little. One of these rarities was the zurek; a Polish sour soup with, potatoes, sausage and boiled eggs.
they had two types of boiled pirogs (traditionally Russian dumplings, originally baked and filled with goodies), one with meat and one with cheese and spinach. The home made nudli (dumpling sticks) for the dessert with also home made apricot marmalade was so delicious, that I was surprised even by having no sweet tooth, I suddenly grew myself a purring organ to the taste of it.
And there is more. They promise strapachka (a type of dumplings/noodles originally coming from Slovakia), hominy and the Vienna-like pubfood; the classic “Kümmel Braten”, which is a belly part of the pork baked with caraway seeds, served with potato salad and beetroot. Most of the Middle European countries will put their signature on the card in the future. As a Furthermore they will serve some beer nuts, in the form of home made black bread slices made with adding dark beer and some dips or toppings for example “jewish eggs” on the side. Even the idea makes my mouth start to water.
On the drink front they have six beer taps, with two regular sorts like the nowadays very spreading Hekkelberg brand with its already prominent lager and their new red beer, the Fux, which was introduced to the PUBlic simultaneously with this opening party. It rolls down your throat easily enough (4.6 %) between the dishes.
The Fux was also represented by its master: Bart Dániel (his refferences: folyekonykenyer.blog.hu, Élesztő, Főzdefeszt – Brew Fest).
Aside from these two, there will be a variable sortiment, IPA, Ale, Stout and an always changing kind of fruit flavored/wit beer on the other taps.
Despite the trending spirit of MALTeR, we shall not just pass by the history of the store that gives it a home. Not long ago, you could take a glimpse of another era inside these walls, by peeking through the almost not at all transparent windows. This place was a sophisticated home of the legendary Kispipa restaurant, where in the previous years you could see an older generation, praising some classical dishes on their tables with smiles, talking to live musicians, leaving the night at a decent right time, giving a nice contrast to the party district around them. This restaurant was a long rising star, and took a deep dive not long ago into its own glamorous history and sad goodbye to the present. It became especially famous for a by now worldwide known Hungarian singer/songwriter/composer/piano player; Seress Rezső, who performed his pieces for years at this place, also while they have been censored. The most popular of them is one with a tragic urban legend story, the song called Szomorú Vasárnap (Gloomy Sunday), which has been translated to more than 100 languages since then. This song became infamous as the anthem of suicides in the in the international common knowledge. The personal cult of Seress spread on Kispipa as well. A lot of people from all around the world, even celebrities came to see him live, and after his death, to experience personally the most common scene of these popular ballad. The sun has set on this era a few months ago. Some odd thoughts come to mind, when something old is replaced by something new, but the old still stays a little irreplacable. Révész Róbert gave sort of a comfort to these thoughs, by telling us, he and his team would imagine from time to time, how the Kispipa would look like, if they had opened up today. And answer is clear: It would look just like MALTeR does. As an addition, they are even the same age as the owners of Kispipa, when they opened up their kitchen. Róbert and the team also saw the special glow of this place, they are consciously paying their respects to the forefathers. For example, they kept and use the chairs of Kispipa. They also planned to put up the old name plate of the restaurant to the walls, as well as its old menu card among other future pictures.
About the deisgn of MALTeR: For the first sight, I admit, I had a little cold and industrial feeling of an artistically distancing atmosphere, especially with its colors and materials used in the interior (chains of metal, raw brick and silver walls),
but it only took one round around the venue to notice the not even too little details, like the homey rug in the back, the yellow-red colored wooden park bench calling to socialize, and MUKI, the living decoration dog, already known from Felni, make himself at home here too.
Especially the future Instagram hit, the not at all “cold as ice” throne, made out of wood will probably quickly graduate to be the centerpiece of MALTeR and presumably collects numerous memories of tourist’s butt prints.
After seeing all this you feel like giving them a buddy hi five immediately, and this feeling only expands, when you see the crazy playful outfit of the bar tending girls: jeans salopettes and red shirts.
They try to give a little more buzz and color to the place with these detail and mix the origin of their name from construction worker scene to it (malter=mortar). The way to the toilet guides you alongside their friendly open kitchen. Even the toilet decoration turned out to be a colorful detail, I noticed the heartwarming retro signs (TV magazine cuts) on the doors and I finally got back the already buried beer keg urinal, which I first got to know in the already closed Hopfanatic Pub.
At the bar you also may look around to find some more little spark. The owners are the most proud of the truck chains holding the beertaps. I personally asked Robi about the double door levitating above the counter. He told me, that he got them from the renovation of a flat next to his, but at first he didn’t had an exact clue what they are good for, but he knew there will be the right time and place to shine for them as well. He has the same approach with the management of the place as well. He says you don’t always have to know exactly what will happen. With a little eastern peace, he keeps it casual and flexible, this is also the reason the menu card and the beertap sortiment can change periodically as well as the decoration can go with the flood. If the walls really get filled up with homey and cozy pictures in the near future, the over all picture could turn out to be one of a very original hybrid style place.
The name of the pub can be explained in two languages. In English it is obvious that it refers to the malt, which makes the name givers proud, because they didn’t follow the trend and didn’t name a beer phenomenon after the hop like the bigger part of the beer and brewery universe. In Hungarian language “malter” has an other meaning: mortar, the mixture of cement and water, which basically binds things together, like MALTeR here binds a lot of things together; pubfood with alcoholic beverages, the respect of history and culture with the progressive directions of current day’s trends, and according to their plans even the gastronomy with some future performances, like stand up comedy shows and live music.
Speaking of things in the future: they have presented us the future visualization of the pub for the Seress Rezső remembrance corner, which will be just outside the pub-restaurant. The mayor’s office of seventh district is about to achieve here painted piano keys three parking places long on the ground, covering the whole width of the street. To top this, they will also project the painted shadow of the pianist onto the wall of the opposite building. This is a creative idea and a pretty vision, I have to say. I’ll take it as first step towards a fictional future, when all the pavement here will only be touched by human feet and only the shadows of the flying vehicles above us. A future, where this here widening street-part will be a greater alley hugged by colorful sunshades and firewall paintings, serving as a gastronomical oasis. But lets not go this far and be happy about the fact, that MALTeR will be in closer touch with the street by opening its big windows in the summer season and offering the earliest birds every day to pet the warm natural air from inside, while having good beers with delicious meals.
Address: 1071 Budapest, Akácfa utca 38.
Opening hours: M-F 15:00PM-01:00AM. On Saturdays they open a little earlier, so people can have a lunch there as well, on Sundays, a little later, ’cause Sundays, well, they are gloomy…;)