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 gut-busting, high-carb, greasy affair. The restaurant's success was immediate: a well-to-do local crowd fills Stand25's tables each day. In 2018, they even won a Bib Gourmand by Michelin.
Although not ground-breaking, Stand25's dishes are very good. The crimson-hued goulash soup is exactly as it should be, brightened with an extra touch of chopped celery and lemon seasoning. 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. Both the somlói galuska, a traditional sponge cake topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup, and the palacsinta, Hungary's take on the sweet crêpe, are worth any sugar-induced guilt you might feel afterward.
My only issue with Stand25 is the restaurant's pricing policy. For example, the €18 three-course lunch prix fixe is highly misleading, because in fact more than half of the dishes have extra charges, and you can easily rack up a bill for €35-40 per person even without wine. Why not just be upfront about it?
Nonetheless, Mr. Széll’s disciplined approach, which can occasionally be observed through the open kitchen, sets a new standard in Budapest—other restaurants would do well to take cues from Stand25's hospitality and professionalism. Reservations are a must.