I’d heard rumours that there was a … not a butchers in the Irish definition of the word and not a meat market in the US definition of the word … but a place that sold meat to take home and cook and to eat right there and then. And yes, there are loads of them in Budapest (hús hentesáru), but this one is the only one to my knowledge decorated completely in Zsolnay tiles – those world-famous ceramics manufactured in Pécs since 1853.
I’m rather partial to a nice piece of meat and I am the proud owner of six Zsolnay palinka cups. I’m not a great woman for porcelain on the best of days (I’ve been looking for six years for the perfect dinner service and have yet to find it) but there are bits of Zsolnay that I wouldn’t say no to. And I figured that a traditional stand-up lunch surrounded by such class would be interesting.
The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s stunning. Really stunning. I was all set to treat myself to a kolbasz or two but the smell was a little overpowering and the place was heaving. The Belvárosi Disznótoros (or Downtown pigfeast) is a common enough lunch-time phenomenon and despite the best of intentions, I just wasn’t hungry enough to stomach it.
Fortunately for me though, right across the road, is Black Cab Burger, home to one of the best burgers I’ve had this side of Tom Murphy’s BBQ in Malahide. Excellent stuff. Basic menu. All the necessities. Quick service. Clean tables. Cute black-and-white photo prints of London with splashes of red thrown in. I was impressed. Very impressed. The place has outdoor and indoor seating and is really serious about its meat.
Still not hungry enough to throw caution to the wind, I had a small burger and it was plenty. Sauces, peppers, onions, all cooked to perfection. Despite every table being occupied, the place was remarkably quiet. Such concentration is the sign of good food.
So there ya have it. Not many people come to Mester unless they have reason to, and both these joints are worth a trip. Step outside the usual haunts and treat yourself to meat on Mester.