Strolling up from Vienna Gate on Castle Hill, number four on Nándor Street looks like an ordinary block of apartments. However, for those with a dinner or lunch reservation, Greta Simon welcomes her guests into the world of art and home cooking hidden inside her flat.
Opened only three weeks ago, Simon’s Flat – Restaurant and Gallery is a unique venue on many levels. Combining art exhibitions by local artists and sculptors with top-quality home cooking, her concept restaurant offers a lot to anyone who enjoys both good food and fine art.
But it’s not only the marriage of art and gastronomy that makes Simon’s Flat stand out: its unique location inside Simon’s own home delivers a culinary experience with a personal touch.
Even though Simon’s Flat carries the title of a “restaurant”, the atmosphere is more akin to dining at a friend’s house, offering something different from the usual eateries dotted around the Castle District.
The smell of game soup wafts out from the modestly sized kitchen next to the front door. Guests are led into the spacious living room defined by a staircase spiralling up through the high ceiling, a line of abstract paintings by contemporary Hungarian artist Tamás Lukács adorning the walls, and a view through panelled windows out onto rusty leaves and the Mary Magdalene Tower.
A bottle of Hungarian wine, such as a 2011 Welschriesling from the Badacsony region, is served and the feast begins. With five courses comprising a starter or a salad, soup, main course, dessert and cheese course, not to mention a healthy quantity of wine included, guests are likely to leave satisfied. There is no á la carte menu on offer, however vegetarians and those who suffer from allergies can request food catering to their needs.
Simon’s culinary focus is on the traditional Hungarian kitchen, although spiced up with her personal flair.
“I’ve met many people who came away from Hungarian restaurants with a negative impression of Hungarian cuisine, so I wanted to give them a taste of good, home-cooked food,” she tells The Budapest Times.
The dishes centre on local and seasonal ingredients, which are hand-picked from select vendors at the Central Market Hall, offering a set menu that changes with the season and daily inspiration. Today, Simon serves an aromatic pheasant soup that is delicately seasoned, followed by a knuckle of pork accompanied by potatoes and a curiously delicious zucchini jam accented with lemon and basil, finishing off with vanilla plum pancakes for dessert.
“I learned many of my recipes from my grandmother and mother, but I have travelled a lot and I’ve watched chefs in different countries to see how they prepare their dishes,” says Simon, who embraces an international outlook in her project. “Many of the people who come here are tourists, mostly guests from the Four Seasons and the Hilton, but my door is open to anyone.”
The atmosphere in Simon’s Flat is inclusive, from couples to families with children and even large groups, but with a maximum seating for 12 people the home-run restaurant and gallery will always be intimate.
Simon is more than a chef and a server. She interacts with her guests, treating them as friends visiting her home, rather than simply as paying customers.
The ambience allows conversation to flow from food to wine, through to art and life’s pleasures. The paintings recall a feeling of the avant-garde movement from the early 20th century. The food is comforting, with a dash of excitement. The apartment is clean and elegant but it feels familiar the moment you step through the front door.
Simon’s Flat – Restaurant and Gallery
District I, Nándor utca 4
Open for lunch and dinner, time and day of choice to be made by reservation (restaurant is reservation only)
Tel.: (+36) 70 391-4918
Set menu for EUR 60 (five courses including wine). Can be paid in HUF or USD.
Discount for children.