Introduction

Kopár Csárda [‘The Barren Inn’] stands by the side of Road 10, just a few miles from Budapest and past the city of Pilisvörösvár, and it has a long and colorful history, as full of twists and turns as the twentieth century. It was at the end of the 1960’s at the initiative of my grandfather Ferenc Walter, head of the farmer’s co-operative in Piliscsaba that the predecessor of the current inn first opened its gates to visitors. Back then, it was but a small building that was soon expanded with an upper floor, both parts built entirely of wood. The building survived the mergers of the 1980’s when the farmer’s co-operatives of the region united to form a single farmer’s co-operative of the Pilis valley, which was eventually merged into the Rozmaring [‘Rosemary’] farmer’s co-operative in Hidegkút, but not long afterwards, there was a fire and Kopár Csárda burned to the ground. The Rozmaring farmer’s co-operative decided to rebuild the inn, using bricks instead of recreating the original wooden structure, and while the new building had no upper floor, it was built on a much larger base area that could now accommodate a hundred guests even without the help of its spacious outdoor terrace. By the time farmer’s co-operatives were dissolved at the beginning of the 1990’s, the estate started to fall into disrepair. However, it was soon purchased by a private buyer, and to this day, the owners are proud to preserve and cherish the traditions of both Kopár Csárda and Hungarian cuisine.

In 2012, Kopár Csárda received a complete makeover in strict accordance with environmental factors and the principles of organic architecture. In addition, our gastronomic traditions were also given a new twist to create an exciting amalgam of traditional inn cuisine and recent international gastronomic trends.

With regard to the history of the Hungarian inn or csárda as they were known in Hungarian, these were traditionally humble places of accommodation scattered across the Hungarian Plains, but surrounded by the monotone, desolate landscape of the Alföld, these inns meant the world to visitors and locals alike. To those who spent most of their days in relative isolation and confinement, these places were small islands of entertainment and a source of fresh news, delicious meals, and heart-warming drinks.

Hungarian inns were usually situated at crossroads, which allowed them to serve as meeting places where different cultures, peoples, traditions and beliefs could come together for simple but filling and spicy meals, prepared on an open fire in traditional Hungarian bogrács pots or baked and roasted in the outdoor oven. Inns traditionally used seasonal ingredients to create their meals, and until very recently, this practice greatly determined the nature and characteristics of Hungarian cuisine.

The relative isolation of Hungary is a thing of the past now that the cultural and gastronomic treasures of faraway lands have become available to us and our dietary habits are shaped more and more by the media as well as modern nutritional science, and in the wake of these developments, we feel that the limited repertoire of traditional csárda cuisine may no longer meet newly arising demands.

We at Kopár Csárda believe that renewal plays an important role in the preservation and survival of old traditions. By enriching traditional Hungarian cuisine with international culinary delicacies, we are able to meet the increasingly higher demands and expectations of our visitors as we strive, in the true spirit of the Hungarian inns of old, to remain a meeting point for those who enjoy traditional food but are also open to international cuisine, or simply love a good meal and are searching for new culinary experiences.

Attila Ujvári

The original building in the 1970s