Located on a quiet side street in Budapest’s Palace Quarter, Fülemüle feels a world away from the boisterous party town its neighboring Jewish Quarter has become. The serene environment is just one of the things to like about this family-run neighborhood restaurant, which opened in 2000 and specializes in Hungarian-Jewish food.
The cholent, this hearty Shabbat dish, is advertized as the specialty of the house. But if it wasn't for the stuffed goose neck (helzel) perched atop the slow-cooked beans and pearl barley, the dish wouldn't leave much of an impression. It comes with a variety of toppings, some with goose leg, others foie gras, and spicy paprika, but the classic version (€8) is the one to go for. Note that portions are huge. The other standout is the matzo ball soup (€5). At Fülemüle, ground ginger lends the matzo balls a slightly punchy flavor (the soup has earned raves from the New York Times too). The “Jewish" egg salad (€6) is a bit too heavy on goose fat, but when spread on toasted bread and topped with red onions it becomes a fine appetizer. For dessert, try the fried matzo cake filled with walnut spread beneath a glaze of biscuit crumbs and rum-infused hot chocolate (€4).
I'm not sure whether the stereotypically ‘90s interior was meant to create some lingering nostalgia for times past, or the owners simply prioritize the kitchen over interior design. Whatever the answer, expect walls lined with PVC paneling, swarms of family photos, oversized “free wifi” signs, and a glass cabinet with ornate seder plates. The crowd is cross-section of middle class (Jewish) locals, and tourists, many of whom have found Fülemüle in Lonely Planet’s Budapest guide.