Virginia Hound headed to Budapest....
Been to Budapest before and fairly familiar with the city. Will be staying in the castle district last week in May first week in June. Anything new or note worthy? I would like to visit Gundel I know I know touristy but is it really one of those not to miss restaurants?
Any other suggestions for Budapest? Also traveling to Eger, Kecskemet, Tokaj regions. Any recomendations food, wine or market related would be great.
I was in Budapest in March (2007). The Central Coffee House is a classic & they had a nice menu (great desserts, and a rich but tasty paprika chicken). I would skip the Hungarian House of Wine in Buda-it did little to advance the cause & you have to pay extra to try Tokaj. Instead I would get an appetizer at the 4 Seasons and try their wines. The basket of baked goods that came with our appetizer was phenomenal. I had a great merlot there (and I'm more of a cab and zin person) & although it's expensive if you skip the Hungarian House of Wine it's a wash!
You can also get a variety of dishes a la carte at the big indoor market (on the 2nd floor), and you can drink 2-6 "basket" Tokaj by the glass for very reasonable. That's the place to do wine tasting! There is also a "Panorama bar" in the corner where you can view the Buda Hills & the Elizabeth bridge. A lovely spot but a bit smoky-we had the people watching view from a little bar/food stall a few steps away & it was great. Very reasonable prices there too.
The touristy looking paprika packs (sweet & hot) at the market were amazingly fresh & fragrant, and you can get a nice packet of saffron for US $6!
My wife and I went to Budapest this past May. Our private tour guide told us that, while Gundel is an outstanding restaurant, it IS a bit touristy and VERY expensive. He told us a well-kept (until now) secret: The Owl's Nest Restaurant, located behind the Fine Arts Museum, is owned and operated by the women in the family that own and run Gundels. That is to say, the wifes, mothers, daughters, and nieces are the chefs, mme. d', and waitresses at the Owl's Nest and the menu is exactly the same!! We had an outstanding and abundant six-course tasting menu WITH WINES, for under $100 for the two of us. I HIGHLY recommend the Owl's Nest!
I agree that you should go to Gundel's. The food was good and the service was exquisitly "old Europe" to use a much maligned term. We were treated very well and thoroughly enjoyed our meal there. There is a wonderful restaurant in a castle on a hill on the Buda side, I believe, but I can't recall the name. There is also a wonderful Russian restaurant on the Buda side that should not be missed. I had written an extensive post about my food travels there about three years ago with names but it was on the old website and don't know if it still exists. Have a great time!
Agree that Gundel is a lot of fun. Sure, it's remarkably touristy but the food is good, service excellent, and you can get foie gras in what seemed like 18 different ways. I thought the duck was slightly disappointing so I'd recommend not ordering that.
But on a pure chow level the place that I was most impressed by was Carne di Hall. It's a very attractive, cellar-like space located on the Buda side, mere steps from the Art 'Otel. We just happened on it because it was so close to our hotel and had just arrived tired that evening. But I think the fact that I recall so vividly what I had this summer speaks volumes for the quality. I started with a delicious goose liver app, and my wife had a very refined Goulash. For my main, I had perfectly cooked venison resting on a nice jus, with potato "donuts", a gorgeous piece of basil, and a gingery, peach and root vegetable compote on the side. My wife had a perfectly cooked duck breast. All that, and a beautiful Hungarian wine probably came to around a 100 dollars or so. Incredible value by North American standards (and quite a bit cheaper than Gundel for the record).
If you want a nice cheap option, check the restaurant at the Art 'Otel as well - they offer prix fixe specials that rotate weekly. What's on offer varies quite a bit, so it may or may not appeal to you but if it does, you can't beat the price.
I would have to agree that you should go to Gundel. Touristy,
but not obnoxiously so. Seared foi gras, pate de fois gras,
goulash, other Hugarian dishes, good wine list, very good service, and ambiance. A septet of string musicians entertained us. Contrary to the advise given by Lonely Planet, when the musicians take special requests, they DO expect to be tipped. Another diner requested "Flight of the Bumblebee" (Rimsky-Korsakov), which was so beautiful that it nearly silenced the restaurant.
Find a bath house that appeals to you and take time to enjoy
the experience. It's a family friendly and popular Hungarian
I will try to find the name of the catacomb wine shop at the
top of the hill that specializes in Hungarian & Austrian wines.
Take a subway ride on vintage cars still in use.