ANNUAL REVIEW

I’ve been asked several times now to update my ranking on restaurants that I’ve reviewed over the course of the past year or since this blog’s been active. I must say that most of the points I’ve handed out were quite well thought through and I don’t really see major moves up or down the rankings. Perhaps a half point here or there. But let’s look at it in detail.

Lou Lou

I maintain that this is one of the top restaurants in town and the closest that we can currently get to a Michelin star. Susogó in Pécs and Onyx are also in the running, but I can only trust friends’ comments on those establishments having never been to either. Now I’m not a Michelin inspector, but I have the feeling that if Hungary were to finally win a star, then it would sooner go to a restaurant with simple ingredients and simple cooking (a kind of brasserie) rather than the type of haute cuisine that Lou Lou stands for.

It’s a 9

Fausto

The new estbalishment feels like sitting in an open space office, but the food and especially the meat is outstanding. No wonder it was voted top restaurant in 2007 by Dining Guide magazine.

A definite 9

Arany Kaviár

Szása has really come a long way and is still on his way to discover the hidden gems of Russian cooking: ccoking with traditional Russian ingredients from the fish to the vegetables and giving them an „international” flavour. Whatever’s on the menu, be it lobster from Kamchatka or lamb or pelmenyi dumplings, you’re sure to be treated like a Tzar.

8,5

Segal

I gave it an eight, but it’s really about a 9. Viktor is an excellent chef and he also has the personality to go with the cooking talent. Ok, it’s not really an inviting atmosphere and getting in is quite a challenge in itself, but this place has true potential and it can easily be recommended as one of the top 5 restaurants in town.

8,5, but only because it’s new


Klassz

Ok, I have a soft spot for Klassz. Every reviewer has to have a favourite, right? At the end of the day I’m still human. Klassz just has for me that perfect combination of a good vibe, super quality ingredients, attentive service, a creative kitchen and je ne sais quoi. Take the duck liver with Tokaji and honey reduction with hints of basil that I ate last night. Fantastic. Or the fresh apple juice from Ebner. Or the Riedel water glasses. Or that perfectly pink duck my wife had with an onion and cucumber relish on top.

8,5

Csalogány 26

Now here’s a tough one. I don’t agree with the people who say that this is the closest Budapest is to the Michelin star. The service is inconsistent at best and the tables are so crammed together that you practically feel like joining in the conversation beside you. The technology that they apply in the kitchen is world class as well as the quality of the ingredients. I’ve eaten some of the best chicken and duck livers that I ever had and the risotto was also pretty amazing. The lunch menu is a a super bargain for anyone working in the 2nd or 1st district, I would even say that it’s worth coming over from Pest for a quick bite at noon. It’s a very, very good bistro.


8

Osteria

Fausto’s old place is more of a touristy encounter than Toscana or Pomodoro and lacks the Italian vibe, but it more than compensates for these things with unbeatable frsh pasta, great tagliata, the best fish soup in town and some special grappa and wine.

8

Bock Bistro

Here’s another one of my soft spots. You can see that the chefs here are having a good time. They come up with really creative dishes for the daily menu each day, but the level of sophistication stays. This is also the closest that a Budapest restaurant gets in my mind to reenergising Hungarian cooking. The innovative way of presenting a stuffed cabbage, the pork knuckle always on demand, that very inventive and innovative take on veal paprikás. This is how Hungarian cooking should look like in the 21st century.

8

Trattoria Toscana

Argue you may with my choices or decisions but I make this the best trattoria in town currently. The level of pizza is just as good as pomodoro, but the meat dishes are better and the service is also super.

It’s a 7,5

Trattoria Pomodoro

Although Gianni believes this restauarant is unrivaled – he should think so as the owner I may add! – it has proved to be slightly faltering at times. The prawns have been overcooked occasionally, the pasta was a bit bland other times but it still remains a strong contender not far behind Toscana.

Overall a 7.

Lanzhou

It’s really hard when people ask you what the best Chinese in town is, but I still think this is it. There are good days and bad days, sometimes the chef is not at the top of his game. But most times it’s a pleasure.

I had previously voted 7 and on good days it can produce that quality.

Abszint

Although I haven’t written extensively about this place, it now has a new chef - previously from Goa – who has led the restaurant from Provence towards French Polinesia. Smaller orders, more refined cuisine and more creative and interesting flavours. Coupled with the revamped interior makes it an ideal candidate to try out again.

On its way towards a 7, now 6.5.

Café Erté

An absolutely gorgeous interior with art deco paneling, plush seating and soft lights. Two or three visits made me realise that the kitchen isn’t as good as the design would warrant it to be. I’d really have to give it another try nowadays – which I will – to make up my mind.

I’d give it a diplomatic 6,5 for now.

MO

Interesting how the Bazilika area has become the Bermuda Triangle of Nouveau Hungarian cuisine - all a bit similar to my taste. Mo doesn’t really stand out from the mass, but it serves up good tasting fare in a trendy environment. Also caters mostly for tourists.

6,5
A38
Having recently tested the boat restaurant which is home of rock concerts and other events I came upon the most well prepared rabbit that I ate lately. It arrived two ways: one with peppers and "bulgur" and the other with cabbage and a light horseradish sauce. Too bad the piri piri prawn that we ate as a starter had nothing to do with its spanish namesake.
6

Dió

My first visit there in a long time just recently posted didn’t make me wet my pants at all. More seasonal ingredients would help and also some simplification of the food.

It’s a downward movement from 6,5 towards 6.

Café Bouchon

The service is best in town and class, but the food is simply not up to the standards inherited from Café Kör. It’s big and bulky.


Stays 6.

Tom George

Seems to have lost that spark – maybe a revamp of the menu and interior is in order

About a 6 nowadays


Terzo Cerchio


It started off strong, but where the other trattoria provide superior service, you mainly see the waiters here arguing and swearing in Italian with the chefs. It’s more of a southern feeling shall we say. The famous charcoal meat platter wasn’t good at all, the pizza was good and some other dishes also stand out like the squid appetizers.
Went from about a 7 to a 6

Déryné

Perhaps the most talked about establishment currently on the Budapest food scene. My last visit - which I didn’t write about - turned out to be an absolute disaster once again on the service and organisation front. We booked for 20 people and they gave us two separate (!) tables for 15. At the end it turned out we were 22 in total so 6 people had to go upstairs to another table to have their lunch. Embarassing to say the least. Oh, and my goulash soup was pretty good. But who cares – my appetite was already gone after 50 minutes of waiting around.

I’d be generous with a 6, but the food has gotten better.

Kogart

Trying to be very innovative, but failing to deliver the goods.A bit of a fusion feeling can be felt on the menu with veal entrecote arriving accompanied by lemongrass and pistachio sauce and an avocado gratin. The determination is there but the kitchen has to go a long way to get to artistic pinnacles that define Kogart in other areas.

About a 6.

Dunapark

I hear the previous Russian chef is gone and gave way to a new one. I had a quick lunch there the other day with some pretty good fusili with tomato sauce, chicken, rocket and parmesan shavings.

I’d give it a 6 nowadays.

Chez Daniel
I hear a lot about the ups and downs and inconsistencies that chef Daniel produces and a lot depends seemingly on how he got out of bed that day.
About a 6.

Choco

Last time I was there it had just opened and it would be unjust to make such a quick critique of the place (like I did with Déryné). However... the interior design is the most lavish I have seen in the city, with hundreds of millions poured into chocolate themed wall decorations, chocolate fountains and the likes. The food and the kitchen – as is typically so in this part of the galaxy – doesn’t live up to the decor. There are some very welcome and innovative little treats and bites, like the apricot schnaps/liquor made with home apricot jam and the pan fried snowpeas with drizzles of olive oil and seasalt. All that is well. The problem came with my scallop starter which seemed to have a, been drowned in some strange sauce and b, drowned with a fistful of rocksalt. The sesame encrusted tuna for main course didn’t leave a lasting impression either, but I’ll be back in Summer trying out some of their specialities on the grand balcony.

When opening about a 5,5.

Noir et L’or


I haven’t been back since, but based on what I hear from Király street locals, I don’t think I’ll be back soon.

Stays 5,5

Milennium da Pippo

All I can say about this place that it’s ok, the pizza is really good and there are some interesting dishes. Not my top Italian pick in town.

5,5

Gerlóczy

Ok, so maybe the 4 I gave it a long time ago was a bit nasty, but the dinner was truly terrible. Since then I’ve only been there on breakfast: the service was appaling, but the bundás kenyér and the whole mixed breakfast plate was extremely good looking and tasting at the same time.

I think it’s probably around a 5.

Nefrit

Well this has probably slid down to my number three choice for chinese food in town or maybe top 5. It’s geared towards large groups and perhaps not as authentic as I’d like it to be. I still recall the waitress’ face as she looked at me when I asked for 100 day old eggs.
About a 5.

Paulaner

I almost always have a stomach ache after eating a lunch menu there.
It's between 4 and 5.

Creol
Does anybody go there to eat?

6 megjegyzés:

Nenos said...

See Please Here

Oran said...

ww.pirosvilla.info

Been to Fausto's recently and found the service invisible and absolutely flawless! I had scallops for mains which were beautiful but coming from Ireland I can be a bit picky... My friend had 'Ravioli filled with fish and rukola in basil flavoured tomato sauce' which was to die for. I had 'Chocolate mousse with green apple and mint sauce' for dessert - the texture and flavour of the mousse was wonderful; the sauces gave an interesting dynamic to an otherwise standard-but-hard-to-perfect dessert. Highly recommended! Wine list was wonderfully-chosen if high-end—they even have off-menu wines by the glass (Konyári Loliense was one of the whites!) so it would do for lunch too ;) I can't wait to go back! PV

Anonymous said...

your blog is great save for one thing: I do not really appreciate your pictures for a single reason and it is light. either you use flash when you shouldn't or you place the object into half-dim - half-light but somehow without justification or the picture is pervaded by a monotonous unlit "greyness" and the result is invariably something which is both hard to interpret and has a touch of amateurship. no offence please but i am sure you can improve on this very minor point.

steel said...

anonymous: thanks, agree fully. problem is, I don't want to use a camera only my phone. i feel it's better to stay relatively anonymous while reviewing the restaurants. If I start shooting with a huge camera, that changes the dynamics of the thing completely. Anyway, see the new pics on HVP. I'm trying my best!

SPELUNK said...

As you seem to be a food enthusiast without a budget - am wondering where Baraka sits with you?

steel said...

spelunk
baraka is very good, but not excellent. last time i was there we had to send back my wife's pasta because the truffle oil bottle fell on it and I was missing a piece of veal on my five types of veal course. other meals, however went really well and there was no compromise in the ingredients. so altogether i could imagine it for a couple of executive lunches or dinners but somehow I feel that it lacks soul.