This restaurant, which opened in December 2010, is in a pedestrianised street in the centre of Budapest, a short walk from the Danube. There were several outside tables as well as those in the main dining room on this warm June evening. The menu is quite modern in style, updating Hungarian dishes for a modern audience. The atmosphere is quite casual. The chef Ákos Sárköz previously worked in Alabardos under chef Attila Bicsar, in the role of sous-chef from 2006-2010, as well as a couple of brief stints at Villa Joya in Portugal. The restaurant gained a Michelin star in 2014, which it retained in 2015.
The wine list had a few dozen offerings, all Hungarian. Oremus Mandolas 2012 was 6,500 Ft on the list, yet this wine in a UK high street costs 7,765 Ft, Szepsy Furmint Uragya 2013 was 15,000 Ft compared to a shop price of about 14,500 Ft.
The meal began with crispy duck liver with kohlrabi, saffron and puree of kohlrabi. This was an enjoyable dish, the liver having good texture and going well with the earthy kohlrabi. The dish was quite salty but that seemed all right in the context of the rich liver (14/20).
Vichyssoise was poured over a scallop with black pepper and "caviar" that was actually lobs of balsamic vinegar. The seared scallop was fine and the vinegar was a sensible foil to the inherent sweetness of the shellfish. Perhaps I was spoilt by a dazzling vichyssoise just days ago at Pres des Eugenie, but the cold soup itself seemed rather bland (13/20).
Marinated salmon trout was served on a bed of olives and peach with basil oil and a Parmesan crisp. The trout was a touch limp in texture but the olives were a good contrast, and the acidity of the peach was a nice foil to the inherent oiliness of the fish, and the cheese crisp was excellent (14/20).
Roast beef sirloin came with potato noodles with sherry, ham chips, peas and bok choi flowers along with a reduction of the cooking juices. This was a successful dish, the peas combining well with the carefully cooked beef, the gnocchi having good texture. The beef was from Argentina (apparently there are limitations with the availability of good quality local beef) but it certainly had nice flavour (15/20).
Strawberry mousse came with strawberry sorbet, dried yoghurt and popping candy. This was pleasant enough, the texture of the sorbet good, but the fruit did not have great flavour and the popping candy seemed gimmicky to me (14/20).
Chocolate ganache came with bitter chocolate cake, crispy biscuit, coffee cream and black tea ice cream, with yet more popping candy. The chocolate was of good quality and the textures worked quite well together. However the popping candy was like an obscure and unwelcome family member that keeps turning up at parties: awkward the first time, distinctly irritating on the second visit (14/20).
The bill came to 40,000 Ft (£93) per person, including copious Hungarian wine, the star of which was the glorious Szepsy Tokaji 6 Puttonyos 2007. A more typical cost per head for a three-course meal with modest wine would be around £40. Service was excellent, the waiting staff helpful and friendly. Overall I enjoyed the meal tonight, the food quite inventive, the wines excellent and the atmosphere relaxed.