Bock Bisztró with locations on the Buda and Pest sides, as well as in Copenhagen, takes its name from winemaker József Bock. Consequently, the list is 100% Hungarian and includes the winery's full range. It doesn't take oenophilic expertise to sort through the K's, Z's and accent marks to spot Chardonnay or Syrah, but the number of local varietals--Furmint, Kadarka and Irsai Olivér, for instance--was surprising (and a little overwhelming). I got into the Kékfrankos, a.k.a. Blaufränkisch, while there. Simple, fruity and a little spicy, the red managed to be pretty all-purpose.
The Mangalitsa fat was something I definitely wanted to order from the aperitif section, and then it magically appeared on the table with a basket of bread (no charge, I'm fairly certain). Everyone had the butter substitute on their tables, so either it's extremely popular or a courtesy. The pork fat is smoky with bits of crisp skin and chopped chives mixed in, and even better with a touch of sea salt sprinkled on top.
More Mangalitsa pork came in salami form, spiced with paprika. The prosciutto was good too, but the crumbly sausage was more distinct. Rich meats are often served with Hungarian peppers, which aren't wildly spicy, though if you say they aren't, you'll get looked at like you're crazy, and raw red onion, which to me is far more difficult to down in such quantities than the chiles.
All the pork will make you full, but persevere. While the printed menu comes in Hungarian, English and German, the most common trio, the daily specials on a chalkboard above the bar, are only in Hungarian. Some lean traditional; others are more invented. I was able to make out one featuring goose and soft-shell crab, which seemed so oddball that I had to order it.
The goose was tender and falling apart, more like roast beef than poultry. Looking at the plate now, I want to say that soy sauce and star anise were involved, but that's probably because it's how I would cook the goose in this situation. The swipe of curry powdered sauce and side of fat rolled rice noodles greased with sesame oil is making me think Asian when really the goose component was traditional. Frankly, I don't know that this hybrid dish would stand up out of context. It's not something I would ever order in NYC, but I liked it in Budapest.
Dessert was a poppy seed cream served with a flaky pastry and raspberry sauce. I've said that walnuts are big in Budapest, but so are poppy seeds.
I'm still wondering what the "bizarre ice cream selection" entailed.
Bock Bisztró * Erzsébet Körút 43-49, Budapest, Hungary