In 2004, Bock Bistro was among the first Budapest restaurants to push the boundaries of traditional Hungarian food. Executive chef Lajos Bíró proved that contemporary cooking techniques, top ingredients, and a little boldness can bring more out of centuries-old national recipes than what had been the standard.
He proved, for example, that crumbs of celery roots can add a welcome crunch and freshness to the goulash soup (€5). That the paprikash can be served also with beef tenderloins. That a beautifully-plated lecsó (€8) is more enjoyable than one that's served carelessly. Bock Bistro's other claim to fame is its exhaustive, all-Hungarian wine list. Many bottles come from the renowned Bock winery in the Villány region (the "Hungarian Bordeaux"), because József Bock is a co-owner of the restaurant.
While most of Bock Bistro's dishes are still reliable, some can fall flat, like the unremarkable paprika sorbet or the occasionally overcooked and tough Budapest-style steak (€21). Currently, in its second decade of existence, I can't help thinking that the operation feels a little tired. Today, Bock is far from being the only Budapest restaurant serving modern Hungarian fare, and it's certainly not the cheapest one. If Bock wants to keep up with the times, I believe they should consider updating their years-old menu and replacing a few of the visibly unenthusiastic members of the waitstaff.
On weekdays, Bock serves a reasonably-priced, three-course lunch prix fixe (€12).