Good reviews and a central location – that was reason enough for us to drop into Ket Szerecsen Bistro for lunch on our last day in Budapest.
As we sat down and began to peruse the menu however, I started to notice little bits of racially-themed decor around the restaurant that began to make me feel uncomfortable. Then I saw their logo of two African faces with exaggerated lips and felt beyond uncomfortable. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t walk out at this point, but the situation was much too awkward as our orders had just been taken.
K and I had a lively debate over lunch as we pondered the question of whether we should have left without eating our meals. I’m definitely more sensitive to issues of race and gender than he is, but even he was uncomfortable with some of the drawings on the walls.
He enjoyed his Breast of Duck with Pumpkin Gnocchi and Sage Butter – a treat as we had been trying to avoid meats other than chicken since his diagnosis with gout. The grilled duck breast was succulent and tender which K enjoyed but I found a bit too gamey for my liking. The pumpkin gnocchi was much more to my taste, and the sage butter just heavenly. Sage butter is something that’s quite simple, but something we hardly ever make at home to go with our pasta. This has to change!
I ordered a Chicken Paprika Stew with Parsley Dumplings and a Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream (pictured below) on the side. I loved the richness of the paprika sauce, which went perfectly with the small herbed dumplings. The chicken was quite tender as well. The fresh cucumber salad is a must when you order the stew though, to help refresh the palate as the stew can be quite thick and rich.
Guys, what would you have done in my place? Would you have walked out once you registered the racially-themed decor? Would you have made a complaint to management?
I don’t think their intention is malicious, but it is a rather jarring experience for people like myself who are hyper-sensitive to issues of race. The theming certainly hadn’t been brought up in the reviews I’d read prior to our visit, but I can’t have been the only one to make a note of it!
For what it’s worth, Ket Szerecsen does quite amazing food. The prices are a little high by Hungarian standards, but the quality alone makes it quite worthwhile. If you think you won’t be bothered by the decor, the food is worth trying.
Ket Szerecsen is located at 14 Nagymezo utca in Budapest, Hungary.