near the opera, oktogon & andrassy ut

 
 
 

Andrassy ut and the surrounding streets are littered with restaurants and there are some really great choices. 


My favorite restaurant in Budapest is Cafe Bouchon (off Nagymezö utca on Zichy Jeno), a marvelous and uniquely welcoming restaurant whose simple, straightforward cooking consistently leaves an impression and belies its sophistication (and, for Budapest, the most unusual of phenomena: memorable ingredients seem to take the fore...I have clear and specific recollections of asparagus, of forest mushrooms, of marvelous foie gras; but there are also subtle Hungarian takes on classic dishes, and interesting tweaks to classic Hungarian ones...mild peppers find their way into a range of dishes, the generally leaden dessert Somloi Galuska is light and un deniable here, as are their palacsinta -- simply the best in town, thickly laden with home-made apricot preserves; even the wine list and their aperitifs and palinkas are special).  You get the point, I like the place.


But I’m actually no less partial to Segal which has relocated to O utca near the körut and is arguably the best upscale restaurant in town, surely the best fusion menu, the best execution, and my favorite for a fancy evening.  Viktor Segal (how can he resist walking around saying, "I'm the cook'"?) has run some large and impressive kitchens, including a major 5-star Tel Aviv kosher kitchen, but he’s most at home with a handful of guests and is obsessive about detail, flavor, and presentation.  The result is comfortable, surprising, fulfilling.  A restaurant that would be impressive in any city.  The new place is a bit larger than his old one, a bit more expansive, still a great bargain, and extremely ambitious.  In fact, Segal is an ambitious guy, working constantly (the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 365 days a year) and compulsively to bootstrap Hungarian cuisine into the culinary stratosphere.  He is creative not just about food but about marketing, and his design sense and attention to detail suffuse the menu, the decor, the appointments...You simply won't find another restaurant in town whose sights have been aimed higher or for less self-serving reasons.


Both Bouchon and Segal get full treatment on the Foodie Budie page.


And there are many more restaurants, including a surprising number of good ones, around Andrassy, of a wide variety of sorts, quite a few worth a try.  Goa for fusion glitz (that’s it, on the right above), Bombay Express for high quality, low cost Indian inspired wraps.  Menza and Leroy for hanging out on Liszt Ferenc ter.  An etkezde on Nagymezö where workers line up out to the street for lunch and
Cafe Eklektica (left) which meets the challenge of its name nearby. 
There’s the Commedia across from the Operetta Theatre, and a wonderful little café next to it that is part of the photography museum Mai Mono House (with the best fresh orange juice).  And there’s Klassz (right), owned by the Budapest Wine Society, with a wide array of wine by the glass, surprisingly excellent and creative food, and a no-reservations policy that leads tables to be scarce in the prime dinner hours.



 

While the Vth District is the major upmarket tourist bedroom community -- with the Gresham, the Intercontinental, the Kempinski, the Meridien, the Hyatt, and the Marriott, as well a a brace of Mercures and a near-limitless run of also-rans, the prime restaurant district -- if one can be singled out -- emanates from the Opera.  Bouchon, Segal, GOA, Klassz, Menza.  You could eat three meals daily, every day for a month, each at a different venue and never have a bad bit.