In 2004, Bock Bisztró was one of the first Budapest restaurants to push the boundaries of traditional Hungarian food: Executive chef Lajos Bíró showed that contemporary cooking techniques, top ingredients, and a little boldness can jolt local favorites into the 21st century. That crunchy bits of celery root add a welcome freshness to the goulash soup, that the paprikash is also wonderful when enclosed in a delicate pastry crust, that a beautifully plated lecsó tastes better than one served carelessly.

Currently, however, 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 updated Hungarian fare, and it's certainly not the cheapest. Some of the dishes can fall flat, like the unremarkable paprika sorbet and the occasionally overcooked Budapest-style steak (€21). The type of good-natured service you would expect from a place like this is often absent.

Bock Bisztró has a deep, all-Hungarian wine list. Many bottles come from the renowned Bock winery in the Villány region (the "Hungarian Bordeaux"), as József Bock is a co-owner of the restaurant. Note that on weekdays, they serve a three-course lunch prix fixe for €13.

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