According to an old saying, sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of us. Although my mom uses this phrase most frequently when my dad searches through the fridge for butter, I suspect that this expression might have a deeper meaning. Cliché, but we’ve realized only recently that we too fell into the trap of not seeing the forest from the tree.
During the past two years – since we started this blog -, we visited the Stonesoup Restobar and the Mika Tivadar Bar on several occasions. I don’t even remember how we ended up there at first; perhaps the name ‘Stonesoup’ attracted us – there’s an old folk story about it-, or maybe as we peeked in through the window, we liked the lampshades made of cheese graters and wine glasses. Anyway, the Restobar quickly had become ‘THE’ place, where we took our foreign friends for dinner on their first night in Budapest. I must admit that I liked the original restaurant on the corner, although navigating between the chairs in the small dining area was probably not exactly the waiters’ dream. Most likely there were a thousand more reasons behind this, but finally the Stone Soup has moved a few buildings further up the street, into a previously run-down, but recently renovated house.
That last time when we were there, we finally had a chance to experience the “Eureka moment” and we finally looked around in the Stonesoup with the intention of sharing our thoughts with our readers. The first and perhaps the most important thing to take a note of, highlight in yellow and remember even when someone wakes you up in the middle of the night is the restaurant’s Ars Poetica, according to which:
They do not use:
– pork meat
– flavor enhancers with MSG including „Vegeta”
– meat tenderizers
– stock cubes
– semi-finished food products
Instead they offer:
– Free-range eggs and poultry
– Vegetables from eco-farms
– Fish that is always bought and served fresh
– Local products that are purchased mainly within a 60 km range
– Homemade bread, pasta, chutney, sauces, dressings, pesto free from additives and preservatives
Moreover, they promise the following things:
To keep stay open for change, no to lose our sense of humor, and to keep progressing.
„The new restaurant opened in November 2012; before it was in a run-down building. Environmental aspects were important already in our former restaurant, and we pay as much attention to those as we can here as well. Besides basic things such as using energy saving light bulbs, recycled paper, selective collection of glass, paper and aluminum, etc., we place great emphasis on waste reduction. We plan to restart composting (which was were doing earlier), and we use biodegradable delivery containers most of the time, made of vegetable raw materials. I’m saying most of the time, because unfortunately these containers can be purchased only from abroad, and timing is not always perfect – so every now and then it can happen that our guests receive their food in plastic containers.”
While our dinner arrived – lactose and gluten free vegan lasagna, sweet potato cream soup, stuffed eggplant and tapas plate – we had a discussion about the ingredients and purchasing principals. Since Stonesoup Restobar delivers the food to Mika Tivadar Bar as well, we consider the two places as one. Besides the quality of the ingredients, another very important aspect is for them to arrive from the closest possible distance – thus seasonality is strongly reflected in the menu. “We try to buy everything from farms within 60 km, however it is not always possible; for instance sometimes we serve a soup made with coconut milk. We prepare everything here in the restaurant, from pesto through jams, dressings, etc. We don’t even have a microwave.”
There were a few more little things that we really liked, such as the vegan section on the menu, the marks besides gluten- and lactose free meals, the tap water they brought to us, the fine Hungarian wines, the friendly waiters, the mincer, the pots and pans and antiques used for decoration…
I don’t know about you guys, but it seems to us that the Stonesoup team shows quite a good direction to other restaurants in Hungary on how to be responsible. That is why we are happy to welcome both the Stonesoup Restobar and the Mika Tivadar Bar among the members of the Heroes of Responsible Dining network!
A big HURRAY for Katalin Hall who translated the original article to English!!