Romantic Dinner in Budapest
We are going to be in Budapest for my wive's birthday, and I wanted to find a great, romantic restaurant to take her to.
Any recommendations? Unfortuantely she doesn't eat meat so that may limit choices and responses, but any help would be great!
I tend to prefer http://www.chew.hu/top33.html (the chew.hu Top 33), though there is considerable overlap; where they diverge, Chew tends to go more for local spots that don't hit the guidebooks, while Top50 cuts the other way. Unlikely to go wrong with throwing a dart at either list, but if you're seriously looking for something that goes beyond food to culture of the city, possibly lean towards Chew.
Well, everyone has a different notion of romance. You can browse the website I have been building about food in Budapest at: http://everythingbudapest.eu/Budapest_-_Restaurants/ which breaks things out by various categories.
For my money, the most romantic place in town is Cafe Bouchon (http://cafebouchon.hu ), because I feel pampered there and the food is always wonderful, the lighting is low and the ambience like a comfortable Parisian neighborhood restaurant. They are very solicitous of the meat-impaired and will happily discuss vegetarian options beyond those on the posted menu.
Others prefer something more high end and glitzy, and for that there is Lou-Lou (hard to find website: http://www.loulourestaurant.com/ or Pava at the Four Seasons.
Others are looking for grandly restored Austro-Hungarian luxury, and architecturally the respondent who suggests Gundel's is right, and the food is not bad...the lush red interior oozes 19th Century wealth; the grand restaurant scenes in the film Being Julia were filmed there (and the American restaurateur and co-owner George Lang plays the gallant maitre d'). The Cafe New York competes for most over-the-top restoration, in that case by a not-very-reverent Italian hotel chain. The food is just fair; when I was growing up in Yorkville in Manhattan during an era when there were 20 Hungarian restaurants within 3 blocks of my front door, probably 12 out of those 20 served better food than Gundel does today.
Others seek out adventuresome cooking, and Segal tops that list, with a sleek decor that might or might not qualify as romantic, but if you call for a reservation and speak with the owner (Viktor Segal) and tell him how special the occasion is and why, he will (I feel certain) work with you to do something very special and respectful of your wife's vegetarian leanings. http://web.axelero.hu/vsegal/ For those who care about food, Segal is among the tiny handful of serious chefs working in Budapest, and for my money is in a category by himself.
If you are looking for a romantic place to stay, with a lovely restaurant just downstairs, in the very center of the city, the just-opened Gerloczy Hotel http://gerloczy.hu is a great deal at 105 Euros/night with breakfast for 2. The Paris bistro scenes in Steven Spielberg's film Munich were shot there.
Spoon is accurately described as a place that locals go for a romantic evening, as are Le jardin de Paris -- http://www.lejardindeparis.hu -- Noir et l'or -- http://noiretlor.hu/mainframe_hu.html -- and Krizia -- http://www.ristorantekrizia.hu/.
Among the gypsy violin kitsch venues, my favorite is a place called Búsuló Juhász in Buda http://busulojuhasz.hu/frameset.php?lang=en . Others swear by Remiz and Kisbuda Gyongye Etterem (they share ownership and a website: http://remiz.hu but I find them just fair at best and out of the way.
For a gorgeous room and view and place to sit and very good food but indifferent service, the Mannalounge in Buda sits on top of an auto tunnel and overlooks the river and Pest from its perch. The website seems to be only in Hunagrian. http://mannalounge.com/index.d2
I personally am a big fan of Ocean Grill, mentioned in another reply, and think it can hold its own among seafood restaurants in far less landlocked cities, but I don't think of it as very romantic, unless your idea of romance centers on your stomach rather than your heart...
Wow, I want to thank everyone for thier responses!. However, you have made it very difficult! My wife and I are eaters. When we are traveling, we love to hit all the best restaurants, and when it comes to dining, we are willing to open our wallets. Thankfully we are in Budapest for 4 nights, so it should give us a chance to try most of the recommendations above.
For a romantic dinner, most local expats and tourists go to Spoon. It is an elegant cafe on a boat that is moored on the Danube and has picturesque views in the evenings with the bridges and Castle Districts lit up. I know that they have vegetarian offerings as well. www.spooncafe.hu
Another place that is certain to have plenty of vegetarian offerings is the Óceán Bar and Grill that is near the Pest side of the Danube. It's probably the best seafood restaurant in Budapest. (although that's not saying too much in this landlocked country) It has a nice interior with aquariums.
Good luck dealing with a vegetarian in Budapest as it is a very foreign concept here, so most restaurants that cater to locals indulge their "meat and potatoes" mentality.
Yes, there is a fantastic spot called something "Rooster" on the Pest side. They have a gypsy band, and I had one of the best meals I've ever had in my life. You must order the stuffed cabbage. It's not vegetarian, but I am sure she'll find something. Maybe there's such a thing as vegetarian goulash. Also, call the concierge at the Four Seasons, they know all. The food is amazing in Budapest. Have fun!
If you are not too price-conscious, Gundel is the place to go. The restaurant is just about the most beautiful and luxurious I have ever been to. It's a throwback to a bygone era, a magnificent restoration of a grand space. The food is quite good, and you will spend less than the cost of something comparable in the US or western Europe. If you want to keep the cost moderate I recommend Cafe Pierrot. The atmosphere is elegant and cozy, and the food is excellent. The menus at both are extensive so there should be enough non-meat choices.