GUNDEL IN BUDAPEST
We have three nights in Budapest in September. Want to eat "well" for two of those and just
fun and funky but still good for the third. Welcome all suggestions. But big question - is Gundel past its prime or is it a must? Also looking for tasty casual lunch places. Scenic doesn't hurt.
Gundel is a superb restaurant. Especially if you have no budget or someone esle from one of the major oil producing countries invited you. One ot the times we were there it seemed the majority was from the Arab countries for some petro conference. The staff was very happy for the outlandish tips.
Oh - I had posted a while ago about a wine bar in Budapest called "Red and White" (Vörös és Féher) - on Andrassy Ut, just up from the Opera. We thought it was lovely - some of the best food we had in Budapest and great wine. Might be a good lunch option for you.
Overall, we were highly impressed with the quality of food and wine in Budapest.
We ate at Gundel in May and enjoyed it immensely. Definitely a "destination" restaurant in the pomp and circumstance sense - but not necessarily a gastronomical sense. That said, it's a gorgeous location, lovely room, and elegant service - we would go back.
We would recommend NOT getting a tasting menu if you're comfortable doing so. I felt that it was good, but probably not the best the kitchen could offer and it was WAY too much food for a "tasting" menu (though good value).
Two more recs:
Karpatia does classic and fine Hungarian fare in a more pre-Astro-Hungary way than Gundel and its fin de siecle loveliness. Also, it is closer to the tourist area on Vaci utca.
After about 13 years, Cyrano (just off Vaci utca) still does the best semi-hip continental. I ate there on Saturday night for the first time in 7-8 years, and it was just great. Every dish was delicious, the service was top notch and the vibe was fun.
Here is some detail on Cyrano along with a list on the left of some of the best restaurants in Budapest: http://www.budapestweek.com/restauran...
Gundel is still great, but I don't disagree with the assessment--though it's not really out of the way. There are lots of touristy things to do nearby, including City Park, the Zoo, Heroes' Square, The Museum of Fine Arts. It may not be on Vaci utca, but it's not out of the way, imo. BTW, we live in Budapest 2-3 months a year, and we usually have access to a car, so maybe that's a bias showing!
Some other ideas:
In Buda, there's a place called Hemingway that has a nice, varied menu and a tremendous atmosphere. In the summer, it's mostly open air, looking out onto a large city park. For real hardcore Hungarian food that's also damn good, try Karpatia just past the end of Vaci utca in Pest. For a little hipper night, try any of the many Leroys around the city--there are about 4-5, just avoid the ones in malls. It's sort of American style, though. Another coolish place is Artichoke.
As for the "sandwiches," I can't stand them. Just about any little place that looks like a 50s american coffee shop serves good food. They won't speak much English there, but the food will be hot, fresh and flavorful.
I did Gundel (quite a number of years ago--at least 5) and it was fun but definitely a bit tired around the edges. I had foie gras-what else??? It's a bit out of the way. We went as a large group so that added to the atmosphere.
I had a surprisingly great meal at a spot that may not be there anymore but it was called Barock, a block or two behind the Opera house. It was sort of hidden away but everything was delicious--including my deep fried foie gras (not sure how that's possible but awesome). Everyone else's Paprikash is still on my mind all these years' later.
Throughout the city, there are many sandwich (small sandwiches, that is--one can eat 3-5 for a nice lunch-ex: egg, smoked fish, chicken, beef, cheese) shops. Very inexpensive--can eat in or take out.
fyi--not about the food but if you like porcelain, Hungary has Herend and it's a real find!!!! There are several stores plus other outlets for other makers. Enjoy!!!