In Monk’s Bistrot the past meets the present, French bistro-style joins up with modern Hungarian cuisine, and shiny polished copper surfaces are combined with wooden benches made of leftover wood from demolished houses. The restaurant at Piarista köz is interesting due to its conceptual design, its international cuisine and its excellent service – and even offering all this at affordable prices. Situated in between modern shopping avenues and sacred buildings, the panoramic terrace of Monk Bistrot offers a remarkable view on the Elisabeth Bridge and the Pest-side bank of the Danube.
The archway at Piarista köz, connecting Váci utca and the Inner City Parish Church, is one of those places in the city that have only recently entered the gastronomic scene, despite their obvious beauty. Since the listed heritage building was thoroughly renovated between 2009 and 2011, the area around the former Piarist convent is one of the secrets of the city: since that time numerous restaurants and bars have moved next to the still-operating religious school.
Monk’s Bistrot is the newest arrival in Piarista köz. The restaurant opened its doors exactly four months ago in the rooms of the former kitchen of the Piarist monastery. As the owner, Miklós Tóth-Deme, reveals, the planning process of Monk’s Bistrot began earlier. Teamed up with interior architect Ákos Bara, who earned his popularity in large restaurant projects such as Stereo Chef, Tóth-Deme developed an innovative interior design concept, in which a kitchen island clad in copper stands in the centre of the restaurant. The point is: the preparation of meals can be really seen from any point in the restaurant.
360° open kitchen
The kitchen led by chef Zoltán Kotra is the heart of Monk’s Bistrot, equipped with all kind of tricks of-fered by today’s high-end technology. In strong contrast with the modern, shining kitchen island, the walls, tables and decorations of the restaurant have a certain industrial-rustic charm: you can see bare brickwork with a colourful drainpipe hanging out here and there, lamps that look like they came from a coalmine, and curved bar stools made of cast iron.
The panelling and partitions made of wooden slats structure the space well. The warm light reflected from the copper surfaces gives the room a cosy atmosphere.
Soaked in history
In Monk’s Bistrot you are surrounded by history. It’s not only that the terrace of the restaurant has a view on one of the oldest churches in Hungary, the city centre parish church, even the interior itself has a historical origin. The huge wooden beams serving as a cover for the fireplace come from the demolition of a mikveh, a traditional Jewish bath house, as Tóth-Deme explains.
The menu has not remained unaffected by the rich history of this space either: the recipe for the polenta, which serves as a garnish to the duck breast and is really popular among the diners, can be found in the recipe book written by Piarist monk Kristóf Simai, which is one of the oldest known recipe books recorded in Hungary.
International fusion kitchen
The dishes served in Monk’s Bistrot, however, are anything but traditional. They offer an international mix ranging from classics such as goulash soup to vegetarian appetisers with celery ice-cream. Besides the already mentioned duck breast, the lamb steak seasoned with lovage served with egg barley is one of the most popular dishes on the permanent menu card.
In addition the pork fillet is worth trying: two perfectly cooked soft fillet pieces are served on a bed of turnip cabbage and finely chopped Chinese cabbage. The dish is finished with a spicy splash of sauce that takes days to cook to the right consistency. The greasy pieces are cut off the meat, so this dish – despite the hearty taste – is appropriate even for the hot days, and does not burden the stomach.
The French influence, which is the reason for the francophone spelling of the restaurant’s name, keeps popping up on the menu card. The pork rillettes deep-fried in pastry give the guests a taste of north-western France. Heaven feels a little bit closer when you have a bite of the real French Mille-Feuille (in English: thousand layers), which tempts with its crisp pastry layers filled in with rich mango cream. You simply cannot miss this dessert when you finish an extended visit into Monk’s Bistrot.
Besides the permanent menu they offer a weekly menu to provide variety. Between noon and 2pm special lunch offers invite in the working citizens and hungry tourists. You can enjoy a three-course menu for HUF 2,980 or two courses for HUF 2,200.
Soups and appetisers: HUF 1380-2400
Main courses: HUF 2800-5480
Desserts: HUF 1250