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Wine Spectator has an article this month about Budapest. This two millenia old city has roots in MittelEuropa, yet has Huge Boss shops, Jaguar dealerships, and bullet holes dating from 1956 (probably 1945, too).

 

Where to eat:

 

Alabardos - Hungarian cooking prior to the Turkish introduction of paprika in the 1600s. Pigeon breast with foie gras or venison with goose liver

 

Baraka - Seared goose liver and wild duck breast in ginger apple soy.

 

Gundel - Described here as a culinary theme park, described as having seriously good food (opinions vary, from what I've read). George Lang "cashed out" several years ago.

 

Kepiro - some of the most adventurous cooking in town. Chicken stuffed with duck and beef tongue, or roast wild duck with plum jam

 

Pava - Italian influenced pastas, eggplant, squid ink, etc appear in a sea of Hungarian favorites.

 

Voros es Feher - Pan fried goose leg, goose liver risotto

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cut-price foie gras - difficult to argue with

 

gundel pretty overrated, though pretty

 

kispipa does a killer pheasant soup (a chowhound rec)

 

overall, not a patch on somewhere like London, Paris or Lyon etc, but a reasonable second-tier player

 

J

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It wasn't that the top tier was spectacular, it's that the regular daily cuisine was very very good, and the prices very low (outside the Gundels,Albardos,etc.).

 

They also sell caviar everywhere, I was suspcious but couldn't resist the prices and bought an ounce. Didn't try it until I was back in France, what a mistake not to try it earlier. I would have bought a pound.

 

I suspect it's a strong caveat emptor, but buy some the first time you see it and try in as soon as possible. If it's great, buy more. If not, then you haven't lost much.

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It wasn't that the top tier was spectacular, it's that the regular daily cuisine was very very good, and the prices very low (outside the Gundels,Albardos,etc.).

That was mentioned in the article, too. The prices for every day food, and for beer, were reasonable by western European standards, and the quality was quite good.

 

Is that a characteristic of Budapest in particular, or is that true of the rest of Hungary, as well?

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That was mentioned in the article, too. The prices for every day food, and for beer, were reasonable by western European standards, and the quality was quite good.

 

Is that a characteristic of Budapest in particular, or is that true of the rest of Hungary, as well?

Quality more concentrated in the capital

 

This is generally true for Czech, Poland also. Decent and cheap (by western standards) food in the capital, but once you get into the boondecks (and beyond the halo effect of western investment) it gets very hit and miss. More likely to get endless variations on overcooked dead big and potatoes.

 

Come to think of it, the same is broadly true of England as well :blink:

 

Well at least its a step up on Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania, where you get bad food both in AND out of the capital...

 

J

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  • 7 months later...

NY Times

 

But after 15 years of shifting westward, several of the city's best restaurants are once again turning to the East for inspiration. Most still serve excellent Hungarian wines, often exclusively, and many still offer such traditional fare as duck, goose and lamb, as well as foie gras, the country's current home-produced culinary star. But in today's Budapest, the goose livers are often paired with chutney, and everything else seems to come with a sizable pinch of Eastern spice.

......

 

On my visit in July, a starter blended sweet cantaloupe, tart ginger and fragrant mint in a refreshing chilled soup much like a smoothie, one that appeared to defy the laws of physics by traveling in three directions simultaneously. Foie gras appeared twice: first as an appetizer, well-peppered, lightly seared and served with sweet sautéed peaches, lime juice and more mint, which lightened and lifted the rich, buttery notes of the liver. The curtain call, in a main course, was a dollop of light foie gras foam placed next to a juicy beef tenderloin under a piece of biscuitlike flatbread - a deliciously deconstructed Rossini, in other words.

 

Another main course paired Thai-style curried prawns with baked red onions and earthy chips of fried sweet potatoes, bridging the New World and Asia.

 

 

Budapest

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  • 8 months later...
WHERE TO EAT in Budapest

 

Where goulash once ruled all and still makes a pretty good showing even at the fanciest places, Budapest is now home to pretty much all cuisines. One of the earliest harbingers of this trend was Restaurant Lou Lou, a French-leaning bistro unobtrusively nestled at Vigyazo Ferenc utca 4 (36-1-312-4505), on an otherwise unremarkable side street between Roosevelt Square and Parliament. An antique horse perches over the bar; huge mirrors glisten on the salmon walls while spot lighting illuminates individual tables. A foie gras appetizer is 3,200 forints, and scallops and gravlax are 3,300; among main courses, a duck duo is 3,900 forints and sautéed goose liver is 4,100. Yes, there is goulash, for 1,400 forints.

 

Costes, at Raday utca 4 (36-1-219-0696), is one of the nicer places along Raday utca, a bustling pedestrian strip, with a menu that stresses game and includes French, Italian and Hungarian flavors. A game consommé or goulash runs about 890 forints, a rack of venison with wild mushrooms costs 4,590 forints and a monkfish filet perched improbably atop a thick omelet is 4,000.

 

Less than a block away is the louder and more informal Soul Café, Raday utca 11-13 (36-1-217-6986), with all manner of Mediterranean dishes in a California-style setting. A mozzarella and tomato salad is 1,500 forints, asparagus cream soup 913 forints, a Thai cashew chicken only 2,200 and a delicious butterfish in lime sauce over jasmine rice 2,936. Goulash, if you must, is 1,500 forints.

 

For a blast of old Budapest, Kacsa Vendeglo is across the river in the Watertown area of Buda, at Fo utca 75, (36-1-201-9992). The specialty here is duck in many forms — in a strudel, crispy, stuffed with prunes, as a pâté, homestyle, Tisza style, Rozsnyai style or atop mashed apple. If you’re sick of duck, there’s also goose, as well as pike, perch, lobster, chicken and sirloin steak Budapest style. Paprika plays a prominent role. The wandering violinist accepts requests and tips.

 

A particularly pleasant place to begin the day is the Angelika cafe (36-1-212-3784), tucked into one wing of an old church building on Batthyany with a terrace overlooking the river. Inside, the dark rooms are arched and illuminated through stained glass. A café American runs just 400 forints and a fortifying four-egg omelet about 980.

 

WHERE TO DRINK

 

The swank spot is the Gresham Bar, just off the lobby in the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel on Roosevelt Square, just at the Pest foot of the Chain Bridge (36-1-268-3000). The style is international business luxe, and there’s the marble, the dark wood and the recessed lighting to prove it. A glass of palinka, the traditional fruit brandy, is 2,200 forints, and a glass of Calvados 2,400. Good free snacks, though.

 

For a more atmospheric, smoky and downscale alternative, there is West Balkan, a warren of darkly lit rooms at Kisfaludy utca 36 (36-1-371-1807), where a happy crowd lived out its John le Carré fantasies — or maybe that was just me. The Calvados here was 550 forints. Beers, of which there were dozens on offer, averaged around 480 forints.

 

The coffeehouse is also a Budapest staple, beginning with the venerable Café Gerbeaud on Vorosmarty Square in the center of Pest (36-1-429-9000). This 19th-century palace with a huge outdoor patio spilling into the square has been around since 1858 and is famous for its pastries. A chocolate torte is 590 forints and a cappuccino 680.

 

NY Times

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  • 1 year later...
The unpretentious restaurant and bar Koleves (Dob u. 26, 36-20-213-5999; www.koleves.com) epitomized the laid-back charm of the neighborhood one recent afternoon, with the stop-and-start melodies of a band practicing in the basement and an artist hanging his latest works on the walls of the dining room. It would be easy to get lost in the design flourishes like the cheese graters converted into perforated wall lamps or the chandeliers made of dozens of wineglasses, but the food, a mixture of Jewish and Hungarian dishes, demands attention.

 

Like an overzealous grandmother, Koleves stuffs you with delicious fare in huge portions. The savory roast goose leg at 1,880 forint, or around $10.65, at 180 forint to the dollar, is a steal. With a cup of cappuccino, the matzo flodni — a Jewish layer cake made with apple, poppy seeds and matzo — is nigh irresistible.

 

On a chilly afternoon, a rich, pudding-thick hot chocolate from Bobek (Kazinczy u. 53; 36-20-774-0103; www.bobek.hu) will rev any traveler up again. The owner, Roland Torok, maintains that it’s the best in the city, and the amaretto or hazelnut blends under layers of whipped cream make it difficult to dispute his claim. Mr. Torok, 29, began working in his parents’ cafe at the age of 6, and opened his bright green-and-pink neighborhood spot last year.

 

 

 

After Dark

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  • 7 months later...
Oy. I'm in Budapest already. I've got to post faster, so I can actually get some advice.

 

I used to live at 2 Kalvin Ter on the Pest side. If I'm remembering correctly - Kalvin Ter is 1 or 2 stops into Pest on the blue line? Walking distance to Fovum (sp?) Ter where you'll find the best market in the city. Even if you don't have a kitchen to cook anything in, it's fun to walk around that market. Advice: don't touch anything. You'll have to buy it if you do!

 

I remember getting some good savory donuts (Langos?) in the upstairs of the market. You can eat it, drink a beer at 10:30am and watch the shoppers below. Usually there's some crazy person yelling somewhere in the market - free entertainment.

 

Where have you been going to?

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Oy. I'm in Budapest already.

We had a homey lunch here the last time I was in Budapest (back in 1997). Glad to see it's still around. Wonder if they still have the roasted goose leg (wing?) with potatoes and cabbage...

 

(Did you know that the restoration of the 1859 Dohány Synagogue -- largest in Europe and I think 2nd largest in the world -- was in part funded by a foundation organized by Tony Curtis, a child of Hungarian-Jewish immigrants?)

 

I haven't been, but if you're interested in haut-esque Magyar fare, you might ask around about Lou Lou's reputation these days. (Pest District V; Vigyázó Ferenc utca 4., Tel: +36/1 312-4505)

 

 

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