Monday, 16 March 2015

Restaurant review | Budapest



I’ve recently come back from a long weekend in Budapest (best birthday present and surprise, ever!) and I’ve got a couple of recommendations of restaurants to keep in mind if you’re ever visiting the city.

Buddha-Bar
We stayed at the Buddha-Bar Hotel so it was only right we ate at the restaurant. It’s Asian-fusion, so expect a lot of curry, sushi, rice and noodles. The decor was beautiful – think lots of red and black, dragoon motifs, mood lighting and intimate dining setting.
Our waiter, Marcell was so friendly and knowledgeable, explaining the menu and recommending dishes, as well as suggesting cocktails that would complement our chosen dishes.
To drink, I chose a vodka martini, infused with Thai basil and pineapple – the majestic. It was vibrant green in colour and tasted so fresh – going beautifully with the sushi I chose. The food was aesthetically pleasing and tasted equally as good. I began with vegetable tempura – lightly battered broccoli, courgette and carrot with a ginger & rice wine dipping sauce. I followed that up with a number of sushi – my favourite cucumber maki, crunchy rainbow rolls and large spider crab maki.
The spider crab rolls were incredible, I love soft shell crab so was easily sold. Marcell recommended the crunchy rainbow rolls, a mix of fish and avocado with tempura nori coating and topped with wasabi mayonnaise.  There was so much for one though, so it’s best to order a selection to share. There are also a number of set menus, including a bento box and family feast.
Nothing could be faulted – the service, food, drink and atmosphere were excellent. It’s fair to say the standards were set on the first night.

Onyx
Glamorous, ostentatious restaurant featuring boldly papered walls, gilt chairs, chandeliers and onyx adornments. Precise, highly skilled cooking sees classical Hungarian flavours kept to the fore but also presents some unusual combinations and interesting modern twists. Service is fittingly formal.

Onyx has a Michelin Star and caters to up to 30 diners – we had this place booked weeks in advance and of course, making a reservation as far ahead as possible is recommended.
The lunch menu is three courses for 7900HUF (less than £20!), with a choice of three/four dishes at each course. Some of these came at a supplement, but each came with its own wine pairing. You can even begin your meal with a glass of prosecco or sparkling rose. Of course, I chose the latter.

To start, I chose the traditional goulash soup: a beef and paprika broth, with celery and onion and shoulder of beef ravioli. The waiters brought out the plates and served us in unison, pouring the broth into the bowl of dry ingredients.  My main course was guinea fowl breast on a bed of pureed sorrel with potato batons and two quail eggs. It was simply exquisite; I’ve honestly never tasted anything so good. To finish, I had the ‘chestnuts, cranberries, almond meringue’ which was pretty much that. It was a taster plate of different taste sensations: white chocolate ice cream, chestnut puree, chocolate meringue shards, almond meringue shards, cranberry jelly drops and some decorative sauces.

I chose the white wine to accompany my main and ended with a local dessert wine. Both were lovely and complemented the dishes perfectly – and our sommelier was on hand to talk us through everything.

Our meal came to around 26000HUF, which converts to roughly £60 – incredible value, particularly when you consider how much it would cost in London! Onyx wasn’t at all pretentious, just fine dining at its very best. It’s the most amazing food and dining experience I’ve had and will be difficult to surpass!

Peppers!
If you’re looking from something different, with scenic views, Peppers! at The Marriott is situated on the waterfront and is a Mediterranean grill, which also serves up some traditional Hungarian cuisine.

We arrived quite late so missed the rush – although lunch service must have been nearly over. We missed the Saturday set menu by two minutes – it’s two courses from the main menu for 1990HUF (£4.50!!). There were only three other occupied tables, so the atmosphere was flat, but it meant the service was spot-on.  We had booked a Danube River cruise, so was good we were in and out quite quickly.

As we’d had pastries at breakfast and were having a big meal in the evening, I chose the antipasti platter from the starters section. I wasn’t disappointed when it arrived, although I filled up on fresh bread, Hungarian tapenade and garlic infused chilli oil while I waited. The plate was so vibrant and exciting – char-grilled veg, cured meats, tomato-topped bruschetta and buffalo mozzarella with pesto. It was just enough. I also ordered a mini carafe of pinot grigio – as good as you’ll get in Hungary.
It’s a shame it wasn’t hot as it would have been lovely to sit outside and enjoy the views. The interior was nice enough though and I never thought I was eating in a hotel restaurant. Even better, there’s a bar next door!
We also ate at traditional Sicilian trattoria (La Coppola), had burgers and cocktails at Hard Rock Cafe, enjoyed a cappuccino at Gerbreaud – one of the best, traditional coffee houses in Europe – and stopped off at Cafe Anna  for a quick pitstop. They do the most warming hot chocolate, plied with loads of booze!

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