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Buda Castle Rules
Zoltán Roy Zsidai is a leading figure in the Hungarian bistro and gastro culture. He speaks of his and his family's efforts of making Hungarian cuisine and gastronomy shine in full glory - again.
Réka Alíz Francisck
Best of Budapest online | August 26, 2013

“Gastronomy is not only our profession, it is our life,” says Zoltán Roy Zsidai, owner of the Zsidai Group. “For decades we have regarded it our mission to make Hungarian cuisine and gastronomy shine in its old, prewar glory again - you know, when Károly Gundel and Escoffier were still colleagues…The place on Fortuna Street where in 1982 my parents opened Pierrot, this is where the story begins…Ever since, it has been our mission to raise the bar, to lift the level of Hungarian cuisine and gastronomy to the international frontline. Our direction is truly Hungarian and European. Hungarian cuisine is a fusion of the tastes of Central-and Eastern European nations, thus the ingredients employed range from roots and mushrooms to the fish of the Adriatic Sea. Our creative chef Zsolt Litauszki is responsible for the direction of our kitchens, innovation and professional development.
Our restaurants present Hungarian gastronomy from different aspects. Pierrot offers a modernized cosmopolitan cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. 21 is a modern bistro with traditional Hungarian cuisine updated to 21st century standards. Pest-Buda is grandma’s home style kitchen with love and care. ÉS, at Kempinski Hotel Covinus Budapest, is a wine bar, a beer pub, a terrace, a bistro, a restaurant and a brasserie all rolled into one. It is different from the traditional all-day dining concepts usually found in hotel restaurants. For example, diners aren’t required to order traditional dishes or follow dining traditions. The menu has three separate parts: nibbles to share, typical Hungarian and Viennese dishes, and grilled meats and fish. Spíler on the Pest side is one of those places that remind people what fantastic things are happening in the former Eastern Bloc countries of Europe, and reinvigorates even the most dormant travel bug. This microbrewery bistropub offers street food at its best and at friendly prices.”

Zsidai Group is not only acknowledged for its high gastronomical standards, but also for its excellent design sense. This is especially true for Baltazár, the latest addition to the Unesco World Heritage Site Buda castle’s gastro scene and the Zsidai enterprise. “This is much more than a restaurant and hotel. It is rather a unique combo of a smart luxury boutique hotel, offering seven rooms and four suites, a bar with a highly prestigious wine list of some 300 different wines from the Carpathian basin, in addition to great gins and world class cocktails, plus gourmet street food to die for, served on the terrace and inside,” Roy explains. By inside, he refers to a stylish interior with an open-kitchen, featuring a mix of comfortable leather armchairs and wooden bar stools, walls partly covered with tiles you may see at some of Europe’s coolest underground stations, and a particular shade of red dominating the rooms. On arrival, hotel guests check-in at the bar – this is a nowhere-else-to-be-seen approach, at least in Budapest. According to the owner, the same approach goes for the menu that consists of high quality meats made to perfection in a handmade Josper charcoal oven.) He says, with the laid-back atmosphere, quality products and reasonable prices, his goal is to encourage Hungarians to discover the Castle District, today preferred mainly by tourists. “I have a vision: Hungarians taking over and ruling the castle. The culinary temptation is right here!”

Zoltán Roy Zsidai was born in the US, as his Hungarian parents were on a study trip at the time. An economist, Zoltán Roy worked for Deutsche Bank and Boston Consulting Group. He turned to the hotel- and catering trade in 2006, where he completed a hotel management course of the Hyatt Hotels.