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 into the 21st century some centuries-old national dishes. For example, that crunchy bits of celery root adds a welcome freshness to the goulash soup (€7). That the paprikash can work as haute cuisine when made with beef tenderloins and enclosed in a pastry crust. That a delicately plated lecsó (€8) 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 modern 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). At least a couple of the waiters seem visibly unenthusiastic or too self-important to provide the type of good-natured service one would expect from a place like this.

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 reasonably-priced, three-course lunch prix fixe (€12).

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