One of my first memories of life in Budapest is being berated for not liking fish soup, more precisely the Hungarian version of it, the much loved ‘halászlé’, literally fisherman’s broth. The reason for that, I slowly discovered, was the fish itself: Hungary being a landlocked country, all typical dishes are made from sweet water fish, which I don’t much fancy. Salt water fish, as I discovered while studying in Finland, is another matter altogether, and I kept dreaming in vain of fresh salmon for years.
All that changed when The Big Fish, Budapest’s first sea food bistro, as per their own description, opened on Andrássy street: their philosophy is to bring salt water fish as fresh as possible to Hungary, which is of course no mean feat. As a result, their offer varies slightly from day to day, depending on the latest imported catch, though I am happy to report that salmon is always available. You order at the bar, upon having inspected the fish of your choice, and various side dishes are available to go with it, plus of course wines, with an obvious focus on whites, which go better with most fish.
They also opted for French vibes: their fish soup is essentially a bouillabaisse and the waiters come clad in Breton stripes. It’s not over the top, though, and the atmosphere feels authentic. Every now and then, while tasting my salmon and sipping a Chardonnay, the metallic rumble of Andrássy boulevard sounds almost like the sea.