2007/09/23

TOM GEORGE - SAME OLD SAME OLD

Upon my hundreth visit to Tom George I was waiting for a surprise. In fact I'm always waiting for a surprise there ever since the first couple of times I was there when the place opened. Back then it was fantastic: the quality of the food, the design of the restaurant, the extremely good value for money, the interesting fusion/oriental spin on the menu. It was all too good to believe.


Then somewhere along the line it went a bit downhill with the food and uphill with the prices. The tom yam soup wasn't the same anymore, neither was the original chocolate souflle, neither was the sushi bar. It went a bit bland. At the same time I couldn't hep noticing that most of the celebrities coming down to eat from the four seasons all come to TG with their posse for a bit of nighttime nosh. What's all the fuss about? Anyway I decided to visit for lunch with a client of mine and check out the food for the 101th time and also the new and improved decor.



The decor hasn't changed much...there are a few newer and more weird grand lights, the overall colour scheme has changed to a purplish hue and the enclosed separe at the front of the restaurant got a bit larger and a turntable has now been included obviously to cater for the party crowd rolling along Budapest's newest pedestrian area from the Danube to the Bazilika. Service overall is good and I recall seeing our waitress many times before on previous visits years ago. It always helps when a place has a loyal waiting staff, it tells the guests something about the attitude of the owners. These owners are the stars of the Hungarian gastro scene, owners of the Leroy retaurants and bistro franchise among others. Their sense of business impeccable, their sense of design immaculate and their taste in food...good, but not great. Leroy retaurants have always been known for having high standards in value for money and good food overall. You never go there expecting amazing food, but you're NEVER let down. Tom George is the jewel in the crown in the kingdom and food here has always been at a high standard. There is a very strong oriental, mainly thai and indian influences on the menu, which can be felt even stronger nowadays. Loads of curries, thai chilies and naans are spread evenly in the menu among pasta dishes, argentine steaks and the obligatory sushi and sashimi section.



We start off with the house snacks, which are freshly made cheese sticks, crumbly and delicious. They are an ideal start for the lunch and fill us up pretty quickly so we need to be wary about ordering big dishes afterwards. I order the Tom Yam Goong soup which will be an interesting comparison with the one I had at Mokka just a while ago. The texture of the soup is lacking creaminess and is more runny than my previous one. It also doesn’t have a strong taste of lemongrass and kaffir lime. It does however have more than a fair quantity of crustaceans: large blue clams, a medium sized langustine, some king prawns as well as lots of mushrooms (not straw, not shiitake, but some other weird thin kind). The price is a whopping 2200 for the soup which can only be explained by the large quantity of seafood within. The taste lacks a bit of punch but it’s definitely tasty. As a side comment I'd like to add that my designer plate in which the soup arrived was chipped on one side. Not the "i'm -immediately- sending -it- back-because it's -dangerous" kind of chipped, just the i'm really annoyed that such a fancy restaurant doesn't pay attention to cracked plates.

Next comes the asparagus risotto with sticks of asparagus wrapped in panchetta. The risotto is a bit dry, the rice is somehow too large for my taste – I’m not sure how big the arborio should be but something is definitely not right. The asparagus is OK but the whole dish is best described as mediocre. My lunch guests takes the much better looking and tasting ricotta stuffed ravioli, which looks home made and is more pleasing to the eye than my risotto. It disappears without any comments in gulps. We ask for the trademark souffle of the house, which was probably the first chocolate souffle to enter the city and make ladies and gents wild when TG first opened. It seems the souffle hasn’t lost a bit of its appeal, the consistency is good, it doesn’t fall apart when the fork first enters it and their is a fair flow of chocolate inside.

It’s hard to make overall comments about a light lunch, but I would still say that TG is a good choice for any lunch or dinner maintaining a consistent cuisine, but losing a bit of that previous shine that it once had. There are inconsistencies in the kitchen, but they are forgiven if you’re rubbing shoulders with Mick Jagger or maybe Leo Di Caprio whenever they’re around.

Tom George/TG
Október 6. utca 8
Overall: 6,5/10

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