Györgyi and I had a fantastic day yesterday, which we weren’t really expecting since all we’ve been thinking about it is buying the things on our list and packing to leave this week. But suddenly, yesterday, things fell into place and we had a really quintessentially beautiful Hungarian summer day. We woke up at about 5:15am. The above picture is a view of our neighborhood at that time, and I swear I never get tired of look out over a peaceful thirteenth district skyline.
Even though we weren’t going to run, since we had covered a really long distance the day before, and hadn’t rested in about seven days, we just couldn’t help being lured out by the cool, almost crisp weather for a short jog. This picture above is from the Margit Bridge looking the opposite way of Parliament on the Danube. Go that way and you’re heading toward Slovakia and Austria. Everything is so quiet and peaceful at that time of day. It’s important, when living in a big city or a city with tourist attractions, to find times when you can just be out there among things without many people scuffing it all up. Early morning is definitely the time go to.
So we did some early morning shopping at the Mountex for a few last minute clothing items and essentials, and then decided to go to Szentendre to find a gift for my Mom that I haven’t been able to get anywhere yet and kept putting off. And I really wanted Györgyi to be there b/c there is always what I call the I’m Hungarian and local discount of a few thousand forints, especially when buying touristy things: linens, porceline, etc.
Szentendre is a great little side trip for anyone visiting Budapest. You can take the city train there, or a car (it’s about 20 minutes drive from the city) and it’s a cute artsy town filled with galleries and shops from the many artists who have settled there over the centeries. It’s very busy in the summer, but we found a perfect seat in the center of the square to have a leisurely cappuccino.
I was never a big afternoon cappuccino drinker in America. Actually, I can’t recall ever having an afternoon cappuccino in America. But now it’s a regular occurance, and I’ve come to recognize the virtues of just being still for a few minutes. Europeans know this very well. I think Americans could definitely benefit from the slowing down it takes to sit and have a quiet afternoon drink. Of course a glass of wine or beer is also perfectly acceptable.
So we sat for a little while and then decided, since we hadn’t eaten since early morning, that we were starving. And we had the perfect idea of where to go:
The Siesta Cafe, which we had been to last summer, is, in my opinion, the best place to get fresh trout (friss pisztráng) in and around Budapest, baring your own ability to catch it on the river, season it, and cook it. It. Is. Just. Amazing.
The Siesta Cafe is about 15km past Szentendre on the side of the road (between road and Danube actually) on the way to another must-see little Hungarian town, Visegrád, where you can see the Danube Bend. This place is a classic roadside fish joint. Plastic chairs and tables and a guy in a little wooden hut frying or grilling up fresh trout and assembling fresh salads and fries. They catch their own fish and serve it up fresh every day. It’s absolutely my favorite kind of place.
I had the trout on the left, which is covered in fresh pesto. And Gy had the one on the right, which is encrusted in a parmasan crumb before fried. We both had the recommended side, which is a gigantic salad covered in a spicy honey mustard dressing. Yes, it’s ice burg lettuce. No, there are not a lot of nutrients or fancy garnishes. But it’s just perfect.
Served with a little bit of fresh lemon (in addition to our lemonade and Heinekens) it was the perfect meal. Right now, I can say it confidently, that it’s my death row meal. We were so engrossed in our eating that we pretty much only said oh my god and this is so amazing the whole time we sat there. People were talking around us, other were walking by the river, we could hear the sizzle of the new fish going into the oil, but we were just there, enjoying ever moment of it in exquisite silence. I can’t wait to take my parents there next summer (and probably go again in September when we get back).
We didn’t stay too long after eating, since there were lots of folks eyeing our table. We drove back to Budapest (about 30-35 minutes), stopping along the way to buy some peaches and some jams from a guy on the side of the road. It was the perfect summer Sunday, and since I’ve been so pre-occupied and stressed about packing and flying, it was a totally unexpected and amazingly pleasant surprise.
If you’re in Budapest Spring-Fall, you must go to the Siesta Cafe (and make a reservation if you can). They don’t have a website, but we snagged their contact info and location. In addition, I might also say that if you are visiting Budapest, you owe it to yourself to see some of the Hungarian towns, the real Hungary. As I was, I’m sure you’ll be happily surprised by what you find.
The Siesta Cafe
Dunabogdány, Kossuth Lajos u. 129.
Tel. +36 30 9141502