Gerlóczy Kávéház. Imagine a near perfect setting: in the middle of the city, close to the Városháza, on a perfect little square, shaded by lovely trees, in the bottom of a turn of the century building, emitting a casual Paris-like ambience with a wonderful outside terrace. Perfect.

It gets even better as we get closer, a high ceiling, a great bistro vibe inside, soft music, an open kitchen, courteous waiters saying their hellos. We are surely in for a treat! The chew top 33 must be right to hold this place in high esteem and obviously Mr Kóka couldn't be wrong to hold his regular, weekend lunches here with his new girlfriend.

But then things start going awfully wrong.

Non smoking table? Aaah, right, says the waiter and leads us upstairs to the gallery. Unfortunately the ambience here is not nearly as good as it is down below: low ceiling, a certain hush, foreign tourists, dirty walls and a corner table from where it's impossible to scope out the people or the action happening in the busy brasserie downstairs. We're locked in, the four of us, but try and enjoy ourselves anyway.

A young waiter comes to pick up the beer orders: bottled beer? we ask. Sure! After a couple of minutes he returns and says the menu is new and the delivery of bottled beer hasn't arrived yet. Wine then. How about a great bottle of Vesztergombi Merlot? Exactly the same thing happens as with the beer - it's the new menu, he says, there are a lot of things missing. We decide to go with a third option in order to speed up things, but the opening isn't exactly promising with 2 out of 2 drinks unavailable although listed on the menu.

Better luck with the starters. Spring is here and veggies are in abundance everywhere: turnips, carrots, peas, and best of all: fresh asparagus. Shall we take the "green asparagus tips with barrel potatoes and prosciutto" or the "green asparagus with barrel potatoes"? Well that's a bit of a no brainer for any non-veggie out there and we can't see why both dishes appear on the menu at the same time. One asparagus for starters and a tomato and mascarpone soup. The soup is tomato-rich and creamy from the cheese, just OK. The asparagus is severely overcooked, almost to the point of dissolving stems and they have no taste at all. A shame to cook these wonderful gifts of nature in such a barbaric way. A grilled ewe-cheese arrives with a mixed salad dressing which looks as dry as the sahara and doesn't taste much better either according to my friend D, the banker.

We quickly move on to the main courses and are served up a Kékfrankos which we chose, but doesn't go well with the food at all so far. Our mistake, it needs a lot more air to get rid of the acidic taste. D gets a relatively good dish of lecsó and foie gras cooked medium, but not runny. He enjoys it and wipes the plate clean with some home made bread. Keeping with the daily asparagus specials theme and expecting much better I go for the veal slices with a lemon-asparagus dressing and potatoes on the side. The veal is the driest, chewiest piece of meat I've had in a long time, the asparagus cut up into tiny little bits on top. I eat, because I'm hungry and not because it tastes any good. I'm thinking: this place has potential, it has atmosphere, it has style. It deserves a far better chef than who they have now.

I am really disappointed by now and don't want to go for a dessert, but the ladies go for a huge, french crepe with oranges and caramel, a sort of local crepe suzette. The orange flavour is bittersweet, not bad at all, but the consistency of the pancake pastry leaves some room for development in this area. We pay, 25 000 for 4, which is higher than what I would have expected and certainly not in line with the quality of the food.

Overall: 4/10
Gerlóczy Kávéház

Too bad the rating system doesn't allow for pluses based on the quality of the website, which surely is one of the best restaurant websites around with easy navigation, refreshed almost daily with the specials and nice pics to go along. Good logo, too!