Kéhli Vendéglő, Budapest
My dining experience at Kéhli Vendéglő was the most traditional of my time in Budapest. Kehli is a bit out of the way compared to the bloc of restaurants in the city, but on the plus side, it’s removed from the usual tourist trappings. The portions are plentiful and are great value, this makes Kehli more than worth the trek.
The name comes from the Kehli family, and it’s one of the oldest restaurants in Buda, first opening in 1899. So it has made itself well known for being the hot spot to try out the local cuisine.
Finding a table at Kehli was easy (for a late lunch) and the restaurant was well equipped with English menus and well spoken waiters. I ordered a number of Hungarian dishes that I had long wanted to tick off. They’re generous with the bread with a half a loaf on offer, I ate though one slice of mine. My first orders were for the goulash (1880 HUF) and the Esztike Lévai’s stuffed cabbage (2490 HUF).
I completely ate up the goulash served with a pearl couscous, the richness of the sauce is fantastic. I’m not such a fan of tomato-based dishes so I was simultaneously relieved and excited when I got this. The stuffed cabbage roll was good, but not to my tastes. I found the meat to have a flavour I couldn’t enjoy and the sourness of the cabbage was a bit heavy. I don’t doubt it’s a good version of the dish.
My dessert was the Sweet Somlói sponge with chocolate cream (990 HUF). This is another Hungarian traditional dish, and resembles a rich cake with lashings of cream and chocolate sauce. It’s a layered dish and has layered flavours – chocolate, walnuts, rum, cream. It’s not the prettiest dish on the block but is plenty tasty and worth giving it a go.
I found Kehli to be a great introduction to all things Hungarian food. It’ll be on track for another hundred years based on these successes.
My top pick for Budapest though, has to go to Mazel Tov