Noir et L’or. That’s the (fantasy)name of one of Budapest’s newest and most innovative restaurants in Király utca. Too bad the innovation can only be felt on the marketing, design and menu layout, rather than the quality of ingredients and the dishes. The style is typical of the now widespread neo-baroque restaurant design in the city: with little golden angels and flower motif tapestries running around them. However, I am unsure of the necessity and the use of plasma screens on the walls, which screened episodes of Travel channel and Eurosport during our visit.

There are only few tables in the place that are occupied apart from our own, the atmosphere and our privacy is only ruined by the crazy traffic, honking and construction going on in Király utca. We feast our eyes for a while on the restaurants’„Sárközy-menu”, which was put together to honour the visiting French president, Mr. Sárközy and is loosely based on his family’s favourite dishes in a smart little, well designed booklet. But then we decide that it would be too painful to eat through 5-6 courses for lunch and go for the á la carte instead. The menu consists of some daily offers and a good selection of dishes á la carte – not too many just Ok in terms of numbers thereby making the choice more simple. We cannot see a clear direction in terms of the cuisine, the restaurant brands itself French Caribbean, but we find a right portion of Hungarian dishes and classic French as well. Our waiter recommends us to have a glass of pinot grigio, which turns out to be a Nyakas szürkebarát – which in my mind will accompany the planned fish and crustacean dishes well.

My partner warmly recommended the St. Michel prawn soup Nicoise, which I buy into immediately. The soup is thick, creamy, with some small prawns swimming at the bottom. A light trail of saffron rouille drifts on the top, which is garlicky and adds well to the taste. I’m not quite convinced about the quality of the fish and prawns that went into creating the base of the bouillabaisse type soup, the taste of it can be deemed as average.

As a main course I receive the orange butter coated bass with celery and lemongrass risotto. The risotto „garnish” - true to its origins – in quality rises well above the „main event” fish lying next to it. The risotto is lemony, creamy and just the right consistency, while the fish is on the dry side and not a hint of orange can be found. B, my business consultant lunch pal nods approvingly while he is digging into his chicken breast filet which arrives with a thick peanut sauce.

We leave some room for dessert and ask for the Noir et L’Or dessert variation, which contains a little taste of their most famous sweets. The 5 small treats vary in quality greatly: we cannot stop laughing at the wild creation of „cardamom scented banana parfait with kiwi-puree, but the smile slowly fades after we taste it. It’s really forgettable. The poppy seed chocolate cake with a sour cherry ragout proves to be a light and tasty option, but then again the nutty grand marnier pancake with large semi-nutshells included makes us fear for our teeth. Clearly, dessert seems to be the weakest point of the lunch.

Once again I draw the conclusion that the exclusive form is rarely paired with exclusive taste and quality in the newest Pest restaurants and that the millions would be better placed in the pocket of a highly trained chef. In terms of price level the sum came to 17 k including tips, which place it in the upper quadrant of local eating establishments.

Noir et L'Or
Overall: 5,5/10