Why Hungary’s Arguably Best Hamburgers Dread A Michelin Star

  • 31 Aug 2015 9:00 AM
Why Hungary’s Arguably Best Hamburgers Dread A Michelin Star
Baltazár in Buda Castle, led by Zsolt Litauszki, is one of the country’s best restaurants, with an adjacent B&B that is rated second among Budapest hotels on Tripadvisor. Fine dining in Buda Castle, a Michelin sticker on th door and we tried that particular perfect hamburger which has become even more perfect since rising to fame.

The secret of the perfected perfect hamburger meat is that Zsolt makes the meat taste even meatier by adding bone marrow. Roasting is aided by a wood-burning oven of which there are only three examples in the country.

Rolls are as soft they almost disappear in one’s hand; the place is dominated by meat with a great load of cheddar/blue cheese mounted on top (depending on the burger, of course).

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfect hamburger! While we process the burger experience, Zsolt explains to us the delightful taste of lamb rectum and that the State Printing House was formerly located on Baltazár’s site.

The wall features vintage posters of classic Hungarian films such as “The Witness” and “The Paul Street Boys”, which actually were printed here. Below, in the 600-year-old cellar, exquisite wines await their consumers and nettle and horse sausage are preparing to blend together for daringly innovative dishes. Baltazár put the standards high but refuses to climb into the Michelin-star misery to throw its style away.

Zsolt’s aim was quite simply to make sure that people return often and have a good bite to eat. And people do have a good bite to eat and do return often.

- If you’d have to choose, would you pick McDonald’s or Burger King?

- Starvation. I don’t go to such places, both mean the same to me andI can’t make a difference based on what I see in advertisements, television or the press. I think they use similar ingredients, both fry their potatoes in the same oil, which they probably buy from Poland and is not necessarily of that poor quality because it’s not as dirty as some say. Either way, I wouldn’t like to eat there. If someone would hold a gun to my head, I’d probably pick Burger King.

- How does a student of history at Szeged University becomes one of Hungary’s most celebrated chefs?

- Having graduated from a high school specialising in the catering industry, I began to study history because it interested me greatly, but I dropped out after the first semester because I was touched much earlier and more by the passion for cooking. Because my mother too was a chef, I got a rather strong impulse from home and learnt a lot from my grandma, who used the “pharmacy of nature”. When I fell over as a child, she healed we with a self-made marigold ointment or gave me nettle tea when I was ill. I hung about regularly at the smallish restaurant we had at home. Passion finally triumphed and in came becoming a chef.

- There are several dishes in Baltazár that are created by your team. How does a chef stand up to a task like this?

- First, we throw in topics, in this case a keyword such as hamburger, steak, grilled vegetables. This is followed by a series of tests to see what we can make of these. The hamburger’s pastry and its meat is made by ourselves, we knead the rolls and cook the ketchup. I believe our hamburgers are among the best on the market right now. As for grilled meats, we visited a trader in Austria and tried thirty different kinds. I take a look at how much they cost and then picked five which we work with up to this day.

- What about your ambitions of a Michelin Star?

- That’s an interesting question because, having tuned Baltazár in for an entirely different segment, we wouldn’t like a star in this sense. My goal is to once be awarded a Bib Gourmand prize, then I’d say we’ve really made it. A Michelin Star would probably mean that we’d have to see off part of our guests, as demonstrated by a tendency in Italy which saw seventeen Michelin-rated restaurants closing down last year.

People – me included – want to find a place to let the steam out, recline and have a good bite to eat in a good atmosphere.

These days, they don’t have the time only to eat for four or five hours. If they do nevertheless, it only happens once or twice a month, which is completely understandable. Most of the time, this is not what our guests are looking for and we couldn’t keep the restaurant running in this case.

Budapest, District I, Országház utca 31.

+ 36 1 300 7050

Source: hungarytoday.hu

Republished with permission

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