Just as my partner pointed out to me that it's unlikely I'm the first to say "I'm hungry in Hungary", it's equally unlikely I'm the first to search for "best goulash in Budapest". I'm sure every English speaking person has read the same websites as me to determine where to go. To save everyone and myself again next time the search (although perhaps there will be new runners by then), there were 3 options for me depending upon budget, availability and location. Stand25 is the most expensive and run by award winning star chefs and even though the lunch or dinner set menus seem affordable, there's an extra supplement for almost every single course on it. I can't be bothered to have to deal with that. Bestia had a slightly more outer location but near a gelato place (Gelarto Rosa) I wanted to try but didn't get the chance. Gulyas had overall multisource excellent reviews and location in the Jewish area near Szimpla Kert with the most concerning feature being getting a seat especially as we were going on Saturday night.
The venue has also the cheapest goulash of the well known places and also a reputation for stews.
By luck we snagged the last 2 seats at the countertop, with all the tables being occupied or booked. Straight after us a few other stragglers were turned away, so can't be unhappy about that.
The staff were all very friendly and lovely.
- Bread with sardine, paprika spread and Spanish onions - delicious fishy spread to start the meal;
- Hungarian goulash 'Alfoldi' style 1100HUF - a vastly different beast to the canned version I had growing up. Lovely tender beef pieces flavoured the stock with warming paprika and soft vegetables. Exceptional;
- Farm chicken paprikash from chicken drumsticks with egg noodles 1970HUF - I partially chose this because it's the traditional version, because venison or lamb may be similar to my beef from the soup, and also it was much cheaper than the others. It was a small piece of chicken breast, definitely not drumstick which was ok, and served with a savoury sauce and scrambled egg into firm chunks;
- Catfish stew with baked curd cheese noodles rolled in bacon 3350HUF - reasonably cooked fish with mild cheese wrapped in fatty bacon.
The stews were very different to expected. For one, stew usually means more liquid like a thick soup (to me anyway). Although the mains were smaller than anticipated, with the complimentary bread and a slow pace of digesting it turned out to be very filling in the end.
I'd definitely go back for the goulash. Next time I would still order a stew but probably the lamb paprikash or venison stew.