On Wednesday Györgyi and I went to Kertvárosi Vendéglő for lunch. It’s a little restaurant across from Hotel Forrás, which is Szeged’s first 4-star hotel. It’s also opposite of the new and expensive swimming pool complex, the Napfényfürdő Aquapolis. Györgyi and I had actually been there twice before in the winter for soup, which was quite good. Then they closed down for about four months or so, only to just reopen with an outdoor sitting area.
We kind of had high hopes for Kertvárosi Vendéglő because we liked their soups, but unfortunately our lunch was pretty lackluster. And I’m being kind.
The first problem was that they didn’t have an English menu. Now let me clarify my position on this before my inbox is flooded with hate mail. I think it’s perfectly suitable for a restaurant in a village or small town to not have an English menu. And it’s every business owner’s right not to have one. But when you’re located across the street from the only four-star hotel, spa and swimming complex in a University town, it’s a little odd. And we are particularly interested in this issue because it’s what we do in our business– translation, marketing, etc. And even though I can read a Hungarian menu, I was imaging the English gent or German woman who tried to figure out the word for “chicken” or even “beer”. This is not a language of cognates.
Györgyi had the daily menu. It was 750 forints (less than $5) and came with a soup and entree. This is 100 forints less than the really great daily menu that we had at Szeged Etterem two weeks ago, though it lacked the complimentary water and dessert. Her soup was garlic soup, which she said was actually pretty good. She said it was rich and creamy but not too heavy. And I noticed that the crutons were homemade, which is a plus.
Our main dishes were unfortunately not as good. I really don’t enjoy writing bad reviews, but I feel like I have been writing about so many restaurants in the area recently that it wouldn’t be fair if I just ignored bad meals. And the main dishes were honestly bad and definitely not worth the money.
Györgyi’s main dish, which was the daily menu, was pork knuckle and fried potatoes. Pork knuckle is served everywhere here. It’s a staple dish. And when you’ve had a few drinks at a festival and the vendors are serving freshly fried pk, it’s nearly irresistible. But she said that her knuckle was almost all fat. In addition to that, the potatoes were not sufficiently drained after frying, which was apparent from the oil on the plate. This is something that goes on a lot in Hungary, but considering the prices of the food as compared to other little restaurants, Kertvárosi Vendéglő should know better. In addition, Gy said the food wasn’t even hot.
I ordered chicken breast with vegetables. The chicken breast had been pounded so thin that you could almost see through it, and it must have been cooked on the griddle for like 20 minutes because it was literally as tough as jerky. The vegetables were pretty good. They were well-seasoned and had a good crunch. But even worse than my chicken jerky were the croquettes. You can’t tell from the picture that they were on the plate because they were put under the hot food. Bad restaurants do this often here as well, in addition to not draining the fried food. But it’s absolutely a no-brainer. If you put an item like a croquette or french fry under hot food it will create a steam cabin, making whatever is under the hot food instantly soggy. Sigh.
With two waters and a tip our order came to 3,000 forints. Even though this is only $15, it’s a lot more than most people in Szeged pay for a weekday lunch. The cook at Kertvárosi Vendéglő may have had an off day, so I won’t make sweeping judgements. The outdoor area of the restaurant is very nice. Good atmosphere and music. And our waiter was really friendly and even asked me how things were in English. But the friendly staff and nice decor couldn’t save the food this week. And even though Gy and I go out to eat several times a week, we probably won’t go back.
Szent-Györgyi Albert u.
06 62 480 088
Even good restaurants here put the slab of protein on top of the potatoes no matter if they’re french fries or parsleyed potatoes. I don’t understand it but it seems to be the plating norm in the former East Bloc nations. It makes no sense as it ruins both, especially if the protein is coated.
Also chefs here generally error on the side of too salty and overcooked proteins. That’s just the way things are. They really don’t think too much about the flavor of their proteins itself. (for example McD puts excess amounts of ketchup and mustard on the burgers here)
I feel no hesitation in saying all people have a devil-may-care attitude with fat. They just don’t give a darn about too much about excess fat on the csulok or cooking oil puddles or too much “gravy”. Another thing that has never been translated into Hungarian: “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.”
Or “A moment on the lips, a lifetime in the arteries.” 🙂
I think restaurants, in Szeged, and in other cities too, should teach people how to eat healthy. How food can taste good even though it is not a portion for two, or even though there is not that much fat in it. Because people would like good and healthy food. I am sure.