The big, nasty Hungarian ‘gastro-revolution’ has, up to this point, only managed to infect one or two spots outside of Budapest, generally all the wilder movements have been concentrated in the Hungarian capital, the majority of restaurants in the smaller cities continue to rule with their four-person wooden platters, even in prettier, more popular locations. Today, however, it is possible to find interesting things in the countryside, perhaps even in a parking lot on the side of the M7 highway in a motel restaurant next to a gas station. Lol.
It has to be said that the Tekergő Restaurant and Motel didn’t start this whole thing of “let’s step out from behind the deep fryer and into the spotlight” yesterday. I first ran into them a few years ago, when Gault Millaut selected Tekergő as the best highway-side restaurant, and when I did, I wasn’t disappointed. Then I went for beef pörkölt, because the old-school csárda diner menu was still out; now though, 2017 has stormed into Tekergő, and so now we organized a gigantic, two-day eating session there. The owners, the Turanitz brothers, found an awesome smoker, and by way of inaugurating it they organized a colossal barbeque dinner; let Velence, and Omaha beef brisket, go up in smoke!
BBQ, Smoker, and Pigging Out
A barbeque night like this one, which they organize from time to time, is a perfect opportunity for a comfortable taste into the world of smokers. It’s not just taking cooked meats and spicing them up with fancy sides; this was the most saucy, smoky, tender meat that we’d ever tasted. It’s a waste of time to look at the selection, get the mixed platter and go for it. For appetizers, we ate bone marrow and drank a noteworthy amount of wine-spritzers, while at the main course all hell broke loose, meat everywhere; we set to a classic casing of stuffing ourselves, which after the fancy dinners of the past few months, felt as good as, to twist a Hungarian saying, waking up late and still striking gold.
In addition to this barbeque game, Tekergő’s real face can be seen during the day. In blazing sunlight, we sat out on the terrace, where we could overlook all of the Velencei Lake while waiting for our food to arrive. it’s worth it to go for the fish—considering that they’re form the lake—and the pizza’s worth a try as well, considering that there’s a colossal wood-burning oven in the middle of the restaurant.
Catfish Paprikás with Cottage Cheese Noodles
Oh yes. The orange Lamborghini of the Hungarian csárda diner. The food, that Dad always picks, since this is the dish that has more kick than Mom’s chicken, wilder than the kid’s Bolognese, and isn’t fried, since fried foods have to be eaten at your mother’s. This is rule number one of the laws of the csárda diner. Most regional restaurants, however, like to thoroughly humiliate this otherwise perfect dish, with frozen catfish bits and store-bought cheap egg noodles, which they then spread a little cottage cheese onto. The Tekergő version, with its locally-caught catfish, plentiful sauce, and sizeable portion of noodles, is clearly really f@#$%^! well put together.
The oven, sitting in the middle of the restaurant like a sacristy, looks far too awesome to serve up something as tacky as pizza in a Velencei restaurant. But pizza isn’t just for those dark Sundays, when you’re so hungover that you’d ask the delivery guy to be the best man at your wedding over your actual best friend. All the oven’s blessings are bestowed on the crust’s crunchy, but totally watertight layers. It’s lightly smoky, which goes well with the small charred spots here and there. The whole thing works together quite well, you won’t find a better pizza anywhere on the side of a highway, that’s for sure.
Just as Slovakia is worth a bit of travel, if you want to relax and try something new, so that you’re not in your everyday surroundings, but can still get back home quickly, Tekergő is likewise a perfect spot for Budapesters and other city-dwellers alike, to get away from the smog and inhale a bit of smoke instead (and yeah, that sounds pretty stupid, I know). It’s an unmissable spot, with a beautiful panorama, with low prices and crazy good food. And if things accidentally get out of hand, no problem, Tekergő is also a motel.
Velence, Sukorói, Első u., 2481
0036 22 472 979
Translated from an article by Péter Csákvári at gastro blog Men & Tál.
Images by Péter Csákvári.