From Badacsony to Budapest: bliss on Bartók Béla Road—La Téne pop-up

From Badacsony to Budapest: bliss on Bartók Béla Road—La Téne pop-up

The title could be a playful catchphrase, but it is simply those few words that sum up the essence of the new shop of La Téne. Entering the little store, you not only arrive on the island of peace, but thanks to the work of Lili and Bálint, you also get a taste of the miracle that has made them famous from Lake Balaton to Buda. Mini cakes, warm drinks, designer friends’ creations—read on to find out why you should come here.

I first went to La Téne in Badacsony for the same reason many others do: so many people recommended it that on a visit to my hometown, Zala, my mum and I hopped in the car to go and check it out. It was already autumn or winter, chilly weather, with a complete lack of the hustle and bustle of the summer season. Being a late afternoon on a weekend, there was not a soul on the streets, empty parking lots surrounded us, only a few strolling couples or families were there, most of them heading exactly where we were going. I’m usually skeptical of hyped-up places (pun intended), but I was curious to see what it had to offer. We asked for coffee and cake (I remember madeleines and some kind of Turkish hazel cake), and while we waited, we looked around. Lots of small, lovely items, cups, tote bags, candles lined the shelves—they were souvenirs, but in the best sense of the word. Our order arrived, we sat down and then the magic began.

Everything was perfect. Even my often dissatisfied self was silent. The flavors and textures were spot on and the oat milk latte was great. From then on, I started many conversations with the usual “Are you going to Lake Balaton? Listen, there’s a place in Badacsony...” Since then, the café has popped up in countless photos and stories, which I have always looked at with pleasant nostalgia, but a few weeks ago I came across a picture on their website. “Get ready Budapest.” With this sentence, the hotline immediately started, but there was not much guesswork involved, as the owners soon revealed that they were moving to Bartók Béla Road in Budapest with a new unit, replacing the hibernating Kő fagyi? store.

But how did the new chapter start? The great La Téne opened in 2020, following a dream of owners Lili Szalma and Bálint Hájos, with a lot of help from their families. Bálint is in charge of the cakes (he traded his professional sports career and paddle for a spatula), while all other tasks fall to Lili. Their goal was to create a dessert workshop and café that was high quality, yet personal, and that you could relate to. They renovated the old post office in Badacsony, where they started selling their long-experimented and therefore famous brownie, the financier, and the mille feuilles. The concept was both innovative and respectful of tradition, as the name itself is an ancient Celtic word (not French, as many believe) and the original pyrogranite (developed by the Hungarian Zsolnay porcelain manufactory) wall was retained. Although they have faced many challenges in recent years, they have never compromised on quality. Every bite is made with the finest ingredients and meticulous handwork, whether it’s a lemon madeleine or an ingenious Paris-Brest, which are their favorite.

That all sounds good, but if everything is so perfect, why move over a hundred kilometers from the lake? The answer is simple: it’s not (just) an adventure, it’s a matter of prudent consideration. As popular as they have become, there is still the issue of seasonality to Lake Balaton, and from November to April, even with the best intentions, they cannot generate the kind of traffic that is sustainable in the long term. Especially now, when the price of raw materials and overhead costs have risen, a plan B was needed. That’s why, as they say, they chose this solution as a kind of ‘escape in advance’, knowing that they have a very strong audience in Budapest.

La Téne pop-up is not a copy of the café in Badacsony—it couldn’t be, it’s much smaller and there’s no kitchen. They had to come up with an offering that was compatible with the location, but also fit the brand, and interesting enough to fit in the colorful whirl of Bartók Béla Road. This is how Travel Cakes were born, which are sponge cakes with different toppings, or Sétasüti (walking cake—the Transl.), which is a traditional cake in the form of a dessert cup. Of course, you can also get great coffee, pumpkin spice lattes and even hot chocolate—the latter is special because the chocolate was designed in collaboration with the Sopron-based bean-to-bar brand, the Harrer Chocolat. In addition, old partners have found a new room here: the Ezercsepp apiary, Kapolcsikum syrups and jams, Krisz Ceramica’s ceramics from Balaton, and the most beloved products from their winemaker friends from Badacsony, such as the Skizobor or Part Pince assortments.

For now, they are testing the logistics and trying to balance between the two stores (they are usually in Budapest on weekends), but the long-term goal is to get through this period and move forward. They summed up the essence very well:

“We always try to smile when we host someone and go forward with determination. But lately it’s getting harder and harder, and we’re doing a lot of thinking, brainstorming and maths about how to proceed. It’s at times like this that we are so inspired by the great group of our regulars. We build on them and encourage them to look behind the product wherever they go and wherever they spend their money, to look for quality and real human values. In a coffee, in a dessert, at a dinner party or in a Christmas gift.

In the long term, we have lots of plans and ideas, we want to reach more places, have consistent quality and a team that we can keep moving forward with whatever comes our way. Because we can’t do it alone. We need good colleagues, and we need our guests to ensure that La Téne remains a place and a name that people will think of fondly for many years to come, and that it is always a pleasure to visit, wherever you are in the country.”


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