When in 2017 Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll (a European Bocuse d'Or winner and celebrity-chef in Hungary) announced that they were leaving the Michelin-starred Onyx restaurant to venture out on their own, one didn’t need a business degree to predict success. The idea of Stand25 Bistro was to prove that traditional Hungarian fare can be more than a high-carb, greasy affair. The restaurant's success was immediate: a well-heeled local office crowd and tourists fill Stand25's small tables inside the Hold Street market-hall-turned food-court in downtown. In 2018, the restaurant won a Bib Gourmand by Michelin.

Although not ground-breaking, Stand25's dishes are very good. The reddish-brown-hued goulash soup is exactly as it should be; an extra touch of chopped celery and lemon seasoning add brightness to it. Another signature is the layered potatoes with crisped-up sausages, eggs, and sour cream. The potatoes are tender without falling apart, and the side of chopped beets exude earthy flavors. The dessert is somlói galuska, a traditional Hungarian sponge cake topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

My only issue with Stand25 is the prices. The three-course prix fixe costs €20, but most dishes have extra charges, so you can easily rack up a bill for €30-35 per person even without wine, which isn’t exactly cheap when compared with lunch offers at other fine restaurants in Budapest for half the price. Nonetheless, Mr. Széll’s disciplined approach, which can occasionally be observed through the open kitchen, sets a standard in Budapest—other restaurants would do well to take cues from Stand25's hospitality and professionalism. Reservations are a must.