Fuelled by an obscene amount of Hungarian wine and ice cream over the past four days I racked up a total of 55,632 steps (or 24.6 miles if you’re not a FitBit fiend), taking in what is deservingly the Best European Destination 2019. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Budapest and check out their foodie scene, you may well recognise some of these gems I enjoyed:
Doblo Wine Bar – After touching down early Thursday afternoon and spending the rest of the day exploring the Fisherman’s Bastion and surrounding areas (Raspberry Sorbet was my ice cream of choice there), we chose to relax with the soothing sounds of the guitarist and singer at Doblo Wine Bar. In the dimly-lit brick venue, we ordered the Jamón Serrano Platter with extra Camembert and washed it down with a few Hungarian white wines.
The Drum Café – On the recommendation of a Hungarian family friend, we brunched at a road-side café serving traditional Hungarian dishes. With temperatures in the day never dropping below 28°C we couldn’t face trying the traditional Goulash (a hot stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices) so we picked one of the tens of Lángos dishes listed on the menu instead. Biting into the, crispy on the outside fluffy on the inside, deep-fried dough, my eyes rolled in to the back of my head…wow! A traditional Lángos is topped with sour cream, garlic butter and heaps of grated cheese, but needing to save my lactose-intake for the ice creams (it was chocolate and a mocha scoop later that day), we chose a cheesy chicken, bbq sauce and red onion Lángos instead. It did not disappoint! The doughy dish was accompanied by a strawberry flavoured draft beer from the award-winning Rizmajer Brewery.
New York Café – ‘The Most Beautiful Café in the World’ certainly lives up to its name… Opulence, splendour, grandeur, this place has it all. Having melted over the meat platter at Doblo Wine Bar the night before, I decided to start my evening with the Rucola Salad with Aged Dried “Mangalica Pork” Ham and Fig Chutney, a somewhat lighter option that was as colourful and delicious as it sounds. Our mains were equally indulgent, plated up to perfection. We had the Rib-Eye Steak with Caramelized Root Vegetables and Roasted Potato and the Roasted Pink Duck Breast with “Dödölle” Dumplings and Blackberry Purée. No ice cream here, but I did try the signature New York Café Chocolate Cake – as divine as the great hall I was sitting in.
Vintage Garden – After a day wandering around Margaret Island (a beautiful park in the middle of the Danube river) where I found a new flavour of my favourite ice lolly, A PEACH TWISTER, it was time to relax with another glass of Hungarian wine (rosé this time). Vintage Garden with its al fresco seating area for those who book in advance (sensible Jessica planned ahead), is most definitely a venue for the ‘gram. The restaurant greets you with a hysteria-inducing insta worthy décor of pink flowers, glistening chandeliers, vintage wooden shutters and candles galore. But it’s not a case of style over substance as I found out when a beautifully plated Salmon Steak, Basil Pesto, Mash Potato and Seasonal Veg (pink and purple vegetables no-less!) was placed in front of me. Whilst undoubtedly one for the ‘hens in Buda’, it’s equally one for those looking for an exquisite meal which uses fresh seasonal produce and is plated up as if it were a work of art.
360 Bar – Catching the final moments of Saturday’s sunset at the top of Budapest was an incredibly humbling moment. How lucky I am to be able to travel, eat glorious food and learn about new cultures. So, with a belly full of good food and a 360° view of the most breath-taking city, all that was left was for my hand to be holding a glass of Pálinka, the Hungarian fruit brandy. On the waiter’s recommendation we tried the Kecskeméti Barackpálinka (Apricot Pálinka – and no, the 42% proof shot did not make pronouncing this any easier!). WARNING: Not for the faint-hearted.
If you’ve been to Budapest, I’d love to know what you thought. Tweet me and the team @jessfoodie @jellybeanagency… I plan to return one day for a Christmas city break so all recommendations welcomed!