St. Martin of Tours [316-397] was a Roman soldier who became a Christian missionary and subsequently Bishop of Tours. Born in Szombathely, Hungary (known as Pannonia in Roman times), St. Martin spent his childhood in Italy and the greater part of his adult life in France. He is the patron saint of France and is also the patron saint of soldiers, wool-weavers, tailors, beggars, winemakers, innkeepers, and geese.
The goose became a symbol of St. Martin of Tours because of a legend that, when trying to avoid being ordained bishop, he had hidden in a goose pen, where he was betrayed by the cackling of the geese. The most famous legend of the saint is his cutting off half his cloak to give to a beggar.
St. Martin’s feast day falls in November, when geese are ready for killing and is celebrated throughout Hungary with huge feasts. According to Hungarian folklore the more one eats and drinks on this day, the stronger and healthier one will be. Historically, it was on this day that Hungarians would slaughter, cook, and eat the goose they had been fattening up. A popular Hungarian saying is:
‘Aki Márton napon libát nem eszik, egész éven át éhezik’.
‘If you don’t eat goose on Martin’s Day you’ll starve all year’.
There is nowhere better to mark St Martin’s Day or, indeed to celebrate at any time of year, than at Rosenstein Restaurant. In an off the beaten track location, near Keleti Station, Rosenstein Restaurant serves what could be described as the best traditional Hungarian, and Hungarian-Jewish food in Budapest. The shabby environs of Pest’s eighth district provide a romantic downtown background to the highly professional restaurant that is Rosenstein. Sophisticatedly delicious food and highly drinkable wines attract a lively crowd of well heeled Budapest locals and intrepid tourists. The menu also reflects the Rosenstein family’s deep love for Italy, its lifestyle, attitude and cuisine, gained through family relations and reworked in an imaginative and original style.
Tibor Rosenstein, a legendary figure in Budapest’s gastronomy, opened the restaurant in 1996. Today, it is still run by the family, with the kitchen under the leadership of his son, Róbert Rosenstein.
Most of Rosenstein’s temptingly long menu is a tribute to classic Hungarian fare. Customers can eat expertly prepared Goulash Soup, Beef Stew (Pörkölt), Paprika Chicken, and Stuffed Cabbage, traditional Hungarian food that has changed little over generations. Specials of the day pay attention to the best local produce available in season, much of which is sourced at the Rosenstein Farm in the Kiskunság National Park near the village of Apaj in the Hungarian countryside.
Of the Jewish-influenced dishes, the matzo ball soup is a must. On Fridays and Saturdays, Rosenstein serves Cholent, the signature Shabbat dish, its rich flavours a result of hours of slow-cooking. The baked beans and pearl barley are topped with different cuts of meat. A hearty meal to satisfy even the most demanding of appetites.
Throughout November, Goose specialities are added to the menu to delight Rosenstein’s customers in celebration of the Feast of St. Martin. A selection includes: Goose Rillette, Goose Soup with Pasta or with Matzo Ball, Pan-Fried Goose Liver with Tokaji Sauce, Goose “Risotto” [Grandma’s Recipe], Cholent with Goose.
Wines, and craft beers too, are not overlooked. Artisan Hungarian wines are well represented on the wine list, the Rosenstein brand house wine (red or white) is a perfect accompaniment to any dish and the Rosenstein plum palinka is legendary.
Service is professional and efficient with immaculately dressed, friendly waiters. Tables are laid with crisp white tablecloths, sparkling glasses and fresh flowers, giving a fine dining experience mixed with the comfortable feeling of eating at grandmother’s house. Perfect!
Address: H-1087 Budapest,
Mosonyi utca 3.
Phone: +36 1 313 4196, +36 1 333 3492
Website: Rosenstein Restaurant
Words: Jane Hattatt