If you live in Hungary and you are in the know when top restaurants are concerned, I am sure you know Anyukám Mondta(translates as Mum told me) Restaurant in Encs.
Encs is a tiny town in Northern Hungary, about 3-3,5 hours drive from Budapest on M3 highway. Once you’ve reached the town and looked around you’re gonna be sure you won’t eat any tasty food right here and hope simply to survive. You will have an impression you are in the middle of nowhere …..But it’s false!
The restaurant itself is hidden, and no fancy advertisements will be your guide, as there are no advertisements. But if you turn left at Post Office and „Gyorsbüfé“ off the main road, You’ll be headed to the restaurant.
The building from outside is nothing special. White walls, vintage bench and that’s all. Entering the door the view is much more impressive: shabby chic furniture, Italian atmosphere, a lot of bottles of good quality wine, a lovely coffee maker and so on.
During the weekends the restaurant is full, you are strongly recommended to reserve a table. The bigger company you are with, the lower probability of having a free table. The atmosphere is really friendly: there are no waiters stepping softly and chatting quietly but there is a staff who works loudly, laughing – the Italian way! There are many guests who return frequently just to eat something fine.
After we had our seats we were advised to taste the lovely, home-made raspberry juice. It was incredible! Juicy, ruby raspberries with sparkling water. It sounds easy-peasy and really works. The menu card is appealingly not wide. I mean wider than it is usually in my kitchen at weekends, but they cook only 8-10 main courses and much less starters and desserts. From my point of view it’s quite reasonable, otherwise you never know if the food that has been served is really fresh or a frozen one that has been warmed up. The number of pizza varieties are endless, starters can be mixed individually among starter ingredients like San Daniele ham, some kind of cheeses, marinated olives and artichokes, sun dried tomatoes.
Beside the main menu, which can be ordered in large or small portion, kid friendly food is also offered. Nice idea!
My husband’s choice was Crispy pig’s ear with chickpea puree. It was really tasty, very unusual combination but it worked pretty well. It was served with some salad and all of it harmonized pretty nicely. My Rabbit lasagne with pecorino was extraordinary. I’m really a big fan of rabbit and in a lasagne it was much more delicious than I expected. It didn’t contain too much tomato, so it worked well with mild rabbit meat.
We have also tasted Duck delight (duck leg confit, rosy pink duck breast, fried duck liver with cabbage pasta and apple purée) which was absolutely amazing! It’s the best choice if somebody would like to test the skill’s of the chef himself as this menu is quite tricky regarding the fact that the result can be totally destroyed with a chewy duck breast, or an over fried liver.
The homemade Tagliatelle with chanterelle and porcini is a lovely choice if you would like to taste something Italian in Hungary. If you close your eyes and just taste one bite you will see this meal comes from the home of pastas or is cooked by an Italian chef based on his grandmother’s recipe….
Both desserts, Panna cotta and Chocolate pie with salted caramel were made pretty well, but comparing with the mains these were only standard nice foods. The cheese selection with nuts and honey was also a big surprise with fresh delicate and rich things on the plate, though.
After dinner I decided to talk to the owners for a bit.
Szabolcs Dudás and Szilárd Dudás are brothers, who established the restaurant 18 years ago upon on their return from Italy. Their business was a tiny family business with 6 employees, they baked mainly traditional Italian pizzas with Italian flour, and freshly picked oregano. But later the expectation was progressed so they had widened the sort of foods and the space as well. When the owner was asked what he thought when their success had started, he replied about 3-5 years ago, when they hit the top countryside restaurant brand. They never ever spent huge amount of money on marketing, so „only“ the quality of their food was their key success factor. He thinks their guests arrive from all over the country but specially from Northern-Hungary: Miskolc, Debrecen, Nyíregyháza. It does happen that somebody drives there from Budapest to have some lovely food far from the noisy, smelly capital and at a reasonable price. Their main effort in their daily routine is to supply of good quality ingredients. Huge amount of that comes from Italy, but they are open to work with Hungarian suppliers as well. Their wives also give help in the business as they make homemade jams, find the best suppliers who sell good quality honey, wines, and so on. If you ask about their future plans they smile: „a two-weeks-long holiday with family, especially kids would be nice.“ As summer is high season in the life of all restaurants I completely understand they got tired. I hope during winter when they have had enough rest they will figure out how they can keep their achievement and find new horizons in their success. It would be nice to see a second Anyukám mondta in the capital as well, wouldn’t it?
Anyukám Mondta Restaurant is absolutely one of the finest dining places in the Northern part, or even the entire Hungary! The quality of the food is more than amazing, the surprise is bigger than anywhere else in this country! I wish they follow their way in the near future and insist on their mission: finding the best ingredients and cook them in a nice way! Good luck, Guys!