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Motorway gourmet – premium dining at a place you’d never expect
If you want to target the gastronomy tastes of business people meeting here, of the families heading to the Balaton or lorry drivers stopping for a longer break, you genuinely need to offer a wide-ranging selection. The M7 Bistro in Székesfehérvár set itself precisely this goal, and created a unique concept for this at the 60 km mark on the M7 motorway.
The oldest motorway restaurant in Hungary has kept up with the public’s changing food tastes during its 4 decades, and in its latest renovation phase just a year ago it applied some innovative solutions too. In the spirit of new ideas, they split the guest area and the menu too, into economy and premium economy classes, just like in airplanes. Both classes can choose from the menu according to their individual tastes, and separate rooms are available for more important meetings, which are frequently used by business people from Budapest and Székesfehérvár, who meet up here. The interior design also showcases a fresh and modern approach: one end of the restaurant is dominated by a green wall of live plants with matching armchairs and tables in front, and the gallery has rooms separated from the rest of the guest area.
The revamped and extended menu offers traditional dishes such as goulash for lorry drivers, and lighter, multiple-course menus for the employees of the nearby industrial park and local residents. And of course, those stopping for a short break on their way to the Balaton have not been forgotten either: a bakery awaits them with fresh, locally-baked pastries, cakes and uniquely roasted coffee made from the Bistro’s own blend.
Motorway sandwiches and the Chef’s Counter
The novelties of this season are the locally made sandwiches with various ingredients which are available as fresh as possible from the Chef’s Counter. This long and spectacular counter creates a direct link between the guests and the chefs working here, who prepare the ordered meals right in front of your eyes. Coming soon to the menu is M7 Bistro’s own club sandwich which will include chicken, fried bacon, omelette, melted butter and fresh vegetables between the slices of bread.
And although it is not prepared on site, the iconic meal of the summer season at M7 Bistro, the cold bell pepper soup, is just as much of a success as the “túrós batyú” (sweet cottage cheese pastry) and “fahéjas csiga” (Hungarian cinnamon roll) prepared fresh every day by “Aunt Erzsi”, who has been working at the Bistro since it opened. The preparation of these pastries can be followed from behind a glass window.
Refined and traditional tastes
Having gained 10 years of experience in fine dining in Austria, Péter Bokor the chef at M7 Bistro came to Hungary one and a half years ago to utilise his skills and creativity in Székesfehérvár, but all his colleagues have foreign experience too. According to the chef, you cannot strive for a Michelin star in a restaurant at the side of a motorway, but preparing good quality food is feasible, be it with traditional flavours or more sophisticated dishes. The young, creative chef is comfortable with both traditional Hungarian dishes as well as with the world of bistro cuisine. So for example, you might find a nostalgic version of plain meat balls in a tomato sauce here, as well as a rejuvenated Italian version with bold seasoning.
The restaurant is open from 7:00 am till 7:00 pm every day, and it employs a staff of just 20 people. The effective work is mainly ensured by the state-of-the-art kitchen equipped with all the necessary machines and utensils.
M7 Bistro meals may not only be consumed in the restaurant, as many guests order a selection of dishes for take-away. Takeaway food containers are already in use, but the management will soon be improving this service by quickly cooling (shocking) the food before delivery to retain its freshness.
Thanks to the plans for this progressive kitchen technology, M7 Bistro will be able to provide catering services as well. Their regular customers include the Fejér County Museum for example, but they have also been present at the Air Show in Börgönd several times.
The restaurant car park is equipped with an electric charging station, the children can enjoy themselves in the playing corner, and the facility has a shower too. Future plans for the refurbishment of the guest area at the back and the guest toilets are already in place.
History of the M7 Bistro
It was the father of Attila Szakály, the current owner of M7 Bistro, who applied for the management of the bistro he designed and then called Fehérvár Bistro No. 3; he became the manager in 1984. He wanted to reorganise the place to be entirely self-service in the spirit of “fast, cheap and delicious” meals, a concept which was finally realised around the regime change in 1989.
In the summer of 1986, Attila Szakály was only 12 years old when he first started working behind the counter making coffee, serving soft drinks. Eventually he ended up spending every summer here, growing into the everyday life of the bistro and working in a number of positions. Later he steered his education in this direction too, both in Hungary and abroad until he acquired his qualification in hospitality.
Attila took over the management of the restaurant with new plans in mind, and moved the business from the building constructed in the late 1970s into a significantly reconstructed and modernised neighbouring property, the building of the former Shell-Interag department store. The new restaurant opened here on 13 July 2009 under the name of Albapark, while his father retired in 2011.
After 6 years Attila Szakály felt it was time for a change again, and besides modernising and restructuring the interior he introduced a new concept: the different expectations of guests were to be catered for with different types of meals and a renewed interior space. The conceptual change was reinforced by a new image and a new name as well: M7 Bistro clearly states where Hungary’s first motorway restaurant can be found.