Let’s face it: life is not always easy. We are constantly working, planning, and pushing forward, yet we feel that we don’t always have control over our circumstances. We do our best, and yet sometimes we hit a wall. At times like these, it’s good to walk through a door and be greeted with a warm smile, a seat at a table, and a delicious meal, perhaps accompanied by an exciting cocktail. Our nerves are calmed, our wrinkles smoothed out, and we immediately believe that all is right with the world. Because sometimes you need a bit of cool, just like at the Deszka Budapest breakfast bar.
Fact is, it’s hard to break new ground in the world of breakfast bars. In the recent past, many gastronomic ventures have sprung up (or disappeared) where, without any real concept, serving the obligatory, the trendy style of the moment, and the dishes that guarantee success, but in many cases, these only offer a moderate experience for the guests. That’s why I favor places that don’t try to make a big statement. They are simply likable, authentic, perhaps not perfect, but constantly changing and evolving. It’s like moving into your first apartment: sometimes a bit cacophonous, often in need of a rethink, but all very real and very much your own.
In a way, this is the idea behind the opening of Deszka Budapest, on the quiet, sunset side side of Veres Pálné Street. A stone’s throw away from the bustling crowds of Váci Street, in the midst of a surprisingly slow-flowing energy, with some iconic neighbors like Double Shot and Mantra. Moving in like a good neighbor, the neighborhood instantly took owner Dávid Major and his dog Mázli to its heart, who set up camp within the four walls. Dávid was joined by István Kányai as a silent partner, choosing a location with its own history, being the former home of Ráchel Raj’s cake shop. Gone are the desserts and the slightly mysterious atmosphere, replaced by colors and aromas and muffled kitchen sounds mixed with the current playlist.
David has worked in the hospitality industry before, but in a very different place—he lived in London for 8 years, followed by a stint in New York and Ibiza. He tried his hand at both cocktail bars and juice bars, but life called him home: that’s when he joined The Duchess, a rooftop cocktail bar. But he had long been intrigued by the idea of starting something of his own, something just as fast-paced but different from the nightlife. This led to the idea of leisurely breakfasts, colorful, healthy dishes, getting to know guests on a more personal level, and, of course, ending the day early. Walking down Veres Pálné Street, he saw the battered, empty shop, and the light was so good that when he had a chance to look around inside, he decided it was time. Deszka opened last October, and he brought in chef Árpád Borbély as an expert to help with the menu. Árpi’s name is well known in the Hungarian gastro community, having worked as executive chef for brands such as Szimply.
The menu is not long, but it’s plenty, with a personal twist on everything. The big classic French toast is served with crispy serrano chips and green oily cream cheese, and the Eggs Benedict arrives not on an English muffin but on a Hungarian cheese scone, made in the nearby Randevú Bakery (another fledgling business dreamed up by a young couple), and of course, there’s no shortage of hollandaise sauce and poached eggs. An iconic dish is the Challah Shroom, a nod to Jewish cuisine—toasted bread is topped with a green pea cream layered with various mushrooms, radishes, and a soft egg with panko crumbs, with a perfect texture, crispy on the outside and runny on the inside. The freshly added The G.O.A.T combines beetroot cream and goat cheese in a classic combination, while the mákos guba (a sweet poppy seed-based bread dessert) is a Hungarian classic married with yuzu and lime. In addition to the book-perfect serving, huge portions are guaranteed with each choice, and regulars, one-time visitors, and journalists will all get the same (great) platter. The drinks list is also worth mentioning, as you can replace the regular coffee with Aperol or Prosecco, or even a fruity cocktail, harking back to David’s bartender past.
The retro furniture and the comfortable, old-school (salvaged from Marketplace) sofa make the place so cozy that we feel like staying for hours, encouraged by Mázli (Lucky) the dog. And there is really no need to hurry, the tables are not bustling, because David is always there as a good host, immediately welcoming you with warmth and openness, so you can chat as long as you like. If you feel like sitting next to Mázli, you can also admire the work of a young contemporary painter exhibited on the wall, and soon you’ll also be able to bask in the sun on the terrace. Another plan is to open an upstairs space to welcome even more guests brought in by Deszka’s reputation. The relaxed atmosphere that you will experience here is something that I would like to prescribe to everyone, but for now, just follow my advice: take a day off (even from your thoughts) and go to Deszka!
Photos: László Balkányi