Elysée is one of Budapest's newest café-bistros, born from the fusion of reimagined Hungarian and French and international style bistro cuisine. We welcome our guests every day of the week with carefully prepared coffees, a warm interior, French charm, a constantly changing lunch menu, gourmet à la carte dishes and a wide selection of wines. Voilá!
Elysée Bistro is the proud successor of Elysée, the once legendary coffee house founded by the Gönczi brothers on Kossuth tér. Our aim is to become the meeting point of gourmets, where, open to the novelties of gastronomy, we combine typical Hungarian and French bistro meals, always using the freshest ingredients. We await our guests in a friendly, homey atmosphere that combines elements of old-fashioned cafés and modern bistros.
Our predecessor has done so much to fill the neighborhood of the Parliament with life, and we desire to accomplish the same. We offer tasty meals, one of the most beautiful sights in Budapest and a few kind words to you, in a very unique location.
„Instead of adapting to the world, we have to live it, we do not have to rearrange what is already there but add to it, always.”
Géza Ottlik (1912-1990) Hungarian writer, former regular at Elysée
The story of Elysée
István Gönczi, János and László had been born into a family of restaurateurs and have studied and worked abroad for years, in London, Paris, Berlin and at the Italian and French Riviera. After World War I, all three of them returned abroad to work to obtain capital. They returned home in 1924 and opened the Mignon Cafe on the Danube shore, on the boardwalk. One worked as a waiter, the other as a barista, and the third as a dishwasher. As they did not get a liquor license, they sold the up-and-coming business but remained as waiters. A few years later, they founded the two significant cafes of Kossuth Lajos tér: the Monico and and the Élysée.
The cooperation between the owners of Monico, the first café that had operated in this building, in the MÁK palace – between the two Gönczi brothers – was not always without its negatives. For a while, István and his brother János managed Monico together – until they had had such an altercation that it has even gone to court. Soon they realised that the legal fees were so large that they were jeopardizing the survival of their business, so they made peace instead, but they had to take out a loan as the substantial loss had also been inflicted upon the café.
In spite of the foregoing, the profession considered the three brothers as “one of the most renowned and fortunate triumvirates”. In 1931 László left their first business, Mignon on the Danube shore, and decided to stand on his own two feet as well, taking over the other corner room on the ground floor of the MÁK palace with the support of his brothers and lots of loans, and open an elegant musical-dancing café as a counterpart to Monico, under the Elysée name. The business operates in a corporation format, with one member in addition to Gönczi and his wife.
The new owners emerged from the troubles with new ideas. Brand new, modern equipment was installed at the business, designed by the world renowned industrial artist, Lajos Kozma.
It was around this time that among the bourgeoisie, bridge has begun to make spectacular inroads, which – like all other card games – has been a popular card game in cafés. Players received an elegant, dedicated room at Élysée.
It is entirely certain that it was for bridge that the later professional player and the writer of teaching books Géza Ottlik, of whom we can learn at least one heart-warming little tidbit of local specialties: “Elysée had fantastic wieners, and a goodly portion of potato salad with mayonnaise always came on the side with everything.”
The residents of the elegant neighbourhood were decimated by the war. A portion of the large Jewish population fled abroad, many were taken away.
Until it was possible, the cafés on the square continued to operate, even providing music and shows.
In the meantime, the owners of Élysée, the Fried brothers have changed their names to Gordon, a Hungarian name, but this was not enough, either to feel safe; at the very least, they had to exit the business, at least seemingly. Two trustworthy friends seemingly purchased the café and then once the situation settled, have returned it to the original owners.
After the war and the Communist takeover every café on the square had been nationalised, some of them discontinued operations and some others changed function.
Élysée closed down, the neighbouring Monico primarily served tourist groups under the name Szófia. In 1967 it was rebuilt on the basis of the plans of interior architect Béla Szörényi.
After several decades, Élysée returns to Kossuth Square to write history again.
The BUILDING: The MÁK palace
The two architects of the rental palace hosting the Elysée café were Béla Málnai (1878‒1941) and Gyula Haász (1877‒1951). Málnai was also a student of two pioneers of Hungarian architecture, Ödön Lechner and Béla Lajta. In addition to his historical, eclectic buildings, he had also created masterpieces in the Bauhaus style. Gyula Haász learned from more traditional masters, Alajos Hauszmann, Győző Czigler and Imre Steindl. In addition to apartment buildings, he had designed many significant public buildings for cities outside of the capital. The MÁK palace is an excellent synthesis of the effects they had been subjected to. Its special foyer and wondrous staircases are awe-inspiring
Our chefs’ goals are to experimentalize new ingredients and technologies beside familiarization with basic taste. Our selection includes masterpieces of Hungarian and international cuisine.
Nádor magyaros borétterem
Mosselen Belga söröző
Irish Cut pub
Nádor magyaros borétterem
Mosselen Belga söröző
Irish Cut pub
The stories of Kossuth Square cafes and the history of the 20th century are closely linked.
We present 13 short stories from this era.