In 2004, Bock Bisztró was one of the first Budapest restaurants to give new meaning to Hungarian food following the decades-long decline during the communist era. Owner and executive chef Lajos Bíró showed that contemporary cooking techniques, top ingredients, and a little boldness can jolt the local favorites into the 21st century. That crunchy bits of celery root add welcome freshness to the goulash soup; that paprikash can be wonderful when enclosed in a delicate pastry crust; that a beautifully plated lecsó tastes better than one served carelessly.

Currently, though, well into 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 updated Hungarian fare and it's certainly not the cheapest. Some of the dishes can fall flat, like the overcooked Budapest-style steak (€21) and the unremarkable paprika sorbet. Also absent is a kind service staff.

Nonetheless, Bock is still a Budapest establishment that's unlikely to disappoint. There's a wide range of Hungarian wines, many of them sourced from the renowned Villány-based Bock winery, as József Bock is a co-owner of the restaurant. Also note that Bock serves a a three-course weekday lunch prix fixe for €13.

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