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Budapest Restaurants

November 14th, 2007 · No Comments

Marquis de Salade

Great setting in a “cave-like” atmosphere in the basement of the restaurant (don’t be fooled as the upstairs restaurant looks empty) with the walls decorated in carpets. Extensive menu with Hungarian, Azerbijiani, and Russian specialties. We ordered the piquant chicken with paprika, soya sauce and sesame; lamb kebab and goulash. Also tried the yogourt mint drink – I liked it – a sour yogourt drink with mint and the lemon sorbet (really just lemonade with mint and what looked like pepper). The chicken was a bit dry and tasted like chicken teriyaki (I guess it was the soya sauce) and was not piquant (although I tend to eat quite hot foods). The lamb was not a kebab (as we thought) but sort of lamb chops (or at least lamb with bone-in) which was tasty but on the chewy side. The goulash was a beef soup more than stew which was tasty. A few departing customers had said that the curry was great but we didn’t try it. Meal for 3 with drinks was approx $50 canadian. Average food but nice unusual setting.

Gerloczy café.

Despite the hard sell by the waiter to upsell us drinks – it was a nice setting. It was supposed to be off a very pretty square but given that it was dark – we didn’t really appreciate that. The goulash and beef stew with barley (nev er had barley like this more like a barley couscous) were very good. Interseting that the goulash is more like soup and the beef stew is more like what we would consider “goulash” by North American standads The cheese plate is also recommended despite none of the waiters or chefs knowing what kind of cheese it was – they were all sort of hard cheeses with generous servings (more than enough for 4 people for an after dinner treat). The olive bread that we ordered with it was also pretty decent. Tried the sour cherry snaps as an aperitif – a bit strong (60% alcohol) – but not bad. The best glass of wine by the glass was very average but at approx $2.50 per glass it wasn’t bad. Aprox $60 for dinner for 3 including drinks and tips.

Central Market

Beautiful old buiding filled with food stalls on the ground floor – lots of salami and baked goods. If you are looking for Tokaj wine (sort of like the Hungarian equivalent of sauterne) go to the Match grocery store below – cheaper than the stores above. Apparently 2000 is a good year for Tokaj. Tried the roll pastry stuffed with cheese given that many of the locals were eating it – very salty cheese with almost a hint of meat flavour (leaching of flavour from the adjacent salami shop?) – not my cup of tea. B and A tried the strudel from the busiest shop which seemed to just sell strudel – not bad, not great. I also tried a square of something which seemed like cold rice pudding baked into a cake – ok. Overall, I think pastries are not a strong point in the Hungarian culinary repertoire – not enough butter.

Upstairs are the hot food places. The fried dough (longos?) place was quite busy and recommended in my guide book but, unfortunately, I was too full to try it…It looked sort of like a beaver tail which you could top with a variety of sauces and things

Klassz – 41 Andrassy Ut

Apparently started by someone formerly associated with Menza (didn’t eat there but B and A said it was nice inside and the food was good. Modern funky décor – unfortunately the signage on the restrooms were only pictures of an orange (apparently the women’s) and plums? (not sure what type of fruit, but it was the men’s room) – I think it indicated men/women in Hungarian but that wasn’t helpful for me. Great, friendly service. We went there with a 2.5 year old and the waiters and kitchen were very accommodating. The foie gras with pumpkin puree and honey was excellent as was the goat cheese salad to start. The salmon with lentils, lemon foam and brussel sprouts, sea breem with ?aruguala (not what I expected as it was the full fish – although that being said it was perfectly cooked and tasty) and the crispy chicken (chicken with a crunchy coating that looked like some sort of cornflake mixture – although nicer) were all excellent. The recommended wine was also great. Very reasonable cost by North American standards. Would highly recommend this place. Bonus – it was not smoky

Firkasz (set up by former journalists, the name means “hack”)

Located off the beaten (tourist) path – this place was full on a Wednesday with what mostly seemed to be Hungarians (which may account for the overwhelming number of smokers). In fact, when the non-smokers left from the non-smoking section – the large group in that room immediately asked if they could smoke and within seconds everyone at the table (about ten of them) lit up a smoke. The Hungarian food was great (that is if you like Hungarian food – which mainly involves meat, meat and more meat with a healthy dose of salt). Started off the meal with the salty pancake filled with meat – very tasty crepe filled with an unknown mixture with some sort of red/orange cream sauce. I had the cabbage with meat (admittedly not appetizing sounding but the description in french was better – viande avec choucroute or something like that). It turned out to be stewed meat (likely pork) with sauerkraut – tasty. A ordered the paprika chicken with as also excellent. B ordered the Hungarian style pork tenderloin with potatoes – good but not as good as the other two dishes – grilled pork and potatoes. In fact, from my experience so far, the grilled meat always seems to be a little on the dry side for my tastes. I think I will always try to stick with the stewed meat which they seem to do very well. Hungarians also seem to like things a wee bit on the salty side. There was some live piano music with singing although that being said, the performer only seemed to be able to do 1-2 songs before having to take prolonged smoke breaks. Kitchsy décor with newspaper memorabilia adorning the walls and the free counterspace serving as their wine cellar. The 15% service is included but the service was excellent.

Szempla

A garden bar. Totally funky-looking inside. Huge with a total of 3 levels. Busy and apparently a favorite with locals. Loved the inside bike parking that was available. Looked like they played movies sometimes on the outdoor screen.

Maligan

Great food and great Hungarian wine selection. There is a waiter/wine sommelier who serves you all the wine always preceded by a description of the vineyard and the wine. He was very knowledgeable and willing to answer questions. There is an extensive wine list with 10 dcl glasses available for many wines. They also offer bottles to buy to take-away. Again this restaurant is a little off the beaten path but worthwhile to try. The food was excellent. The tomato soup with crispy pastry (the best we had tried so far including all the bakeries) and the fruit soup – apricot cream was cold and served in an ice bowl – were both excellent. I then had the pork stuffed with goose liver with potatoes and B ordered the beef cheeks. My pork was a little dry but still tasty. The beef cheeks were much better – moist and tasty – Hungarians really know how to stew meat. We had the palacsinta (called pancakes but actually just crepes) filled with fig cream – also very good.

Dio Restaurant
Typical upscale restaurant look. The sommelier was pushing the booze pretty hard and recommending pricey wines (of course). The tapas you need to order a minimum of 5 –at 700 HUF per unit that makes a 3500 HUF – not pricey by N. American standards but definitely expensive by Hungarian standards – not sure why y
ou can’t just order one. The service was average and, again, not up to par for a high-end restaurant. I had the smoked goose breast with a sweet brown sauce and cabbage strudel – not a fan of the sauce but the duck was good. Apparently the wild board with strawberries was good as well. Overall, I liked the desserts the best – chocolate nemesis (moist cake-like thing) in a delicious egg liqueur sauce and the chocolate soufflé (takes 20 minutes but worth it) which was hot chocolatey and molten. Overall – I wouldn’t go back for the price.

Fumule

This restaurant is on a less-travelled side street but worth it to find. In fact, we were looking for a dinner place at around 8:30pm on a Friday night and, without a reservation, this can be a problem. Luckily, a table was just leaving as we arrived and we agreed graciously to share our table with the next couple that came along. IT was what I had imagined what a nice Hungarian restaurant would look like inside with wood tables, and pictures of the owner and his family on the wall. It looked like locals like to dine there as well. The waiter said their specialty was cholente and good. I tried both by having the cholente with goose leg. The goose was tasty and moist. The cholente was also tasty and I guess can be described as tasty beans (if you like beans). Very reasonably priced and the service was good. My dining partner’s goose with forest mushrooms also looked tasty. Good Hungarian food with a jewish twist although it is not a kosher restaurant.

Etzekede Kadar

Now this is the cheap lunch place where the locals eat. Tables with the cutlery and napkins stacked on the side for quick turnover of customers. The seltzer water and bread are already on the table and you help yourself. There is an English menu but the staff, although friendly and helpful, don’t speak English. I had the pork stew with dumplings (like the Hungarian equivalent of spaetzle) and M had the praprika chicken – tasty and cheap. The noodle soup was thin egg noodles in consommé with 2 pieces of carrots. The best was that they brought out HOT SAUCE with the meal. After you are done, you go to the cash and point out on the menu what you ate then you pay.

Nagya Palacsintahoja?

A busy Hungarian pancake place in Buda. It sells both savoury and sweet crepes. I had the chicken stew pancake as well as the ham and mushroom pancake. Both tasty but the filling was rather cold. They have stacks of pancakes which they fill with the ordered filling then microwave. Mine were obviously not microwaved long enough but I couldn’t be bothered to get in line again. For dessert, I had the nutella pancake (how can you go wrong with Nutella?) which they sprinkle with powdered sugar, and a few cherries. The whole meal was filling (you probably only need 2 crepes for a decent sized meal) and it cost me 700 HUF – less than $4. The line-up can be long but the service is realatively fast.

Tokaj wine

A famous Hungarian sweet dessert wine which is there equivalent of sauterne. The Puttonyos indicates the level of botyroides in the wine so the higher the number (the highest I saw was 6) – the better chilled. Didn’t try many different kinds – the cheapest way to try it is likely by going to the local supermarket (eg. Match) and buying a bottle to share with friends.

Ice Cream

Okay – so I had to try it. I was walking through a local mall and they had those ice cream beads that they sell everywhere in America- but it was half the price. I had the banana split flavour. It really is just frozen little balls of ice cream which, because of the greater surface area, melts fairly quickly. Makes for a mildly different experience but not worth the difference in price as far as I am concerned.

Chocolate croissant

Couldn’t help it – it at least looked “good”. I was browsing in the local Match supermarket and saw a chocolate croissant. Resisted once, twice but not thrice. I had to try it. Bought it and, as I should have known – not truly a croissant. On a positive note it was sort of flaky but there was a distinct lack of butter and the pastry just had a weird aftertaste. As well, the choclate inside was more like pudding. I had to throw it away…

Local Transport in Budapest

I highly recommend getting a travel card if you are planning to stay for any length of time in Budapest. The inspectors are everywhere in the metro and you will get fined if: 1) you don’t have a ticket 2) you have a ticket but did not punch it 3) have the wrong kind of ticket. In the span of approx 5 minutes, I watched 4 people get fined by the inspectors – all tourists – many who had tickets but they were incorrect or not punched. I think the inspections are purely to make money off the tourists – after all, locals would know that there are always inspectors and would purchase accordingly. Otherwise, I think the local transport is great – fast and fairly comprehensive. The only downer is that the metro does their last journey around 11pm.

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