The local blogosphere was set a-twitter in the last few weeks as two international heavyweights of the culinary world visited and reported on their discoveries in and around Budapest. With four Michelin-star restaurants, Hungary has earned more of that top honor than any other country of the former Soviet Bloc, putting it in the spotlight for adventurous eaters, and turning it into a surprise high-end culinary destination.
Anthony Bourdain, who is perhaps the most recognizable television personality covering international locations, made a stop in Budapest for his CNN series Parts Unknown (the full episode is embedded below). He was soon followed by top UK food critic, Elite Traveler Magazine writer Andy Hayler, who covered several of Hungary’s fine dining restaurants.
Bourdain – who is known for his adventourous eating habits (cobra heart, anybody?) played it somewhat safe in Budapest, keeping to the gilded confines of the tourist favorite New York Café for Hungarian goose liver, though he did venture out for a more local experience at an étkezde (lunch canteen), for a chicken liver crepe with bone marrow gravy, followed by a schnitzel big enough to swaddle a baby in.
via @Bourdain/ Twitter
A stop to a butcher’s for sausage, which the personality got his mouth around more capably than the difficult Hungarian-language pronunciation, and it was off for a relaxing with a dip in fabled Gellért Baths with Academy Award winning legend of cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond. Bourdain came away from Budapest proclaiming his experience ‘deeply delicious’.
New York Café via Wikipedia
Gellért Baths via Wikipedia
Hayler, perhaps less adventurously, stuck to high-end dining in Hungary, reviewing restaurants Ikon, Borkonyha, Olimpia, and Four Seasons Hotel eatery Kollázs. Hayer has the distinction of having eaten at ‘every three-star Micheleon restaurant in the world,’ which is fair to say makes him an authority on good food.
Calling Budapest ‘seriously elegant’ Hayler seemed most impressed with the country’s wine, citing Hungarian winery’s Szepsy 6 Puttnyos Furmit as the highlight of the trip. Each restaurant experience received praise for food and service, though Borkonyha (see our post on the restaurant here) fared best. No surprise there, if you like wine the ‘Wine Kitchen’ is the place to be, offering the best Hungarian wines along side Michelin star quality food. Hayler summed it up as such: “Overall I enjoyed the meal tonight, the food quite inventive, the wines excellent and the atmosphere relaxed.”
Borkonyha via Lonely Planet
Long gone are the days when fine dining in Budapest meant a trip to Gundel or Vienna. Pull up a chair at the big table: with the likes of Bourdain and Hayler, you’re in good company.
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