Budapest is one of those rare cities where the ancient and the modern paradoxes are visible to the naked eye in panoramic view. There are several vantage points in Buda where you can see Pest, and similarly from Pest you can see imperial Buda. Interestingly the young twin city, used to be two different cities separated by the Danube.
Buda has an air of old world charm and wealth, while Pest is flat and has a more modern vibe. The majestic chain bridge is as recent as 1853. That however, is fodder for another blog, this one is going to concentrate on Food. Finding Local Food is high on my travel agenda, and all other activities are planned around meals and where we are going to eat them. I am an eggetarian, so I am going to tell you about my Top 5 founds in Budapest which did not involve Meat.
We found great places to eat on both the Buda and Pest sides.
Coffee Shops Fit For Kings
I visited Cafe Gerbeaud and Cafe New York in Budapest. The latter is referred to as the most beautiful cafe in the world and the pictures down will tell you why. Cafe Gerbeaud is regarded as being touristy, but even if it was, what I did eat there was phenomenal. Let them eat cake” just my mantra for life… as I sat in the opulent Cafe Gerbeaud you totally get what the fuss is about. Greedy us, we tried their esterhazy, the gerbaud and the dobos slice with vanilla ice cream. They were all hungarian delicacies and my favorite was the Gerbaud Cake. It is a layered apricot and walnut cake, a family recipe. My second favorite was the dobos torte which was also a layered sponge cake with chocolate. These are all the best delicacies of the coffee house and all the burpees I will have to do after this are worth it! The platter was perfect and we had it all.
We went to Cafe New York for breakfast. They have a breakfast buffet as well as an a la carte menu. The food wasn’t bad at all, but I do not remember anything in particular except that the place was breathtakingly gorgeous and at some point violinists were serenading us. I would go for the ambience and little else.
You can tell that the coffee house culture was an elite pastime, and all the restored coffee houses post the war retain all the charm that you would rightly expect. It is an experience I would not miss at all, and the best part is I saw a lot of locals as well, so you may not be walking into a tourist trap.
Most restaurants do a Non-Vegetarian Paprika, however I found a restaurant in Budapest that serves vegetarian Paprika. Kantin in the Pest Side in the Andrassy Neighborhood served us Mushroom Paprika with Gnocchi.
I must warn the purist vegetarian that, it is like ordering Egg curry in Karaikudi in Chennai, I have been the lucky recipient of some chicken shreds in both places. However, I am the kind of person who will keep the meat aside and continue eating, So here’s a warning. Keep that in mind and you may want to warn the staff that you are a strict vegetarian . I did enjoy it, while I did find it fairly heavy as a dish, but after a day of walking I was happy to wolf down most of it.
Vegetarian Food Michelin Style
Most announcements of travel are often met with a “but you are vegetarian! what will you eat” – I had me a superb meal at a Hungarian restaurant with no customizations at all. Yes, None. Nancsi Neni was our chosen restaurant for a good meal that was of Michelin standards.
Nancsi Neni is in Budapest and is a farmhouse that has been converted into a restaurant. Its is on the higway and at least 45 minutes away from the Fishermen’s Bastion. We took a tram and a bus to get to this place. It has also received a Michelin bib gourmand award
I had a delicious rice and peas, very similar to our good old pulao with grilled zucchini, a peas and carrot soup which was clear and very very tasty, and nothing like the creamy pea soup we get back home. I honestly prefer this over the pureed creamy soups we so often get back home. Of course my favorite dessert of the trip is the Palacinky with curd cheese and that is what I had here too! That by the way was my guilty indulgence even in Prague.
Chimney Cakes, Tredlnik, kürtőskalács, Kurtos they have many names and I saw a lot of them in Prague and Budapest. This is a traditional hungarian / czech delicacy. It used to be a wedding treat, but now it is made most for tourists and has become an everyday affair.
The best ones in Budapest are made at Molnár’s Kürtőskalács Kávézó but don’t be in a hurry. They make them fresh and sometimes you have to wait 20-30 mins. I had all the time in the world, but I saw a father and little boy who seemed quite keen on one, and he kept coming back to check on it.
I saw the smallest batches being made at Molnar, and it’s best had Fresh and warm. You can choose your toppings, but the plain almond or the almond and chocolate ones are the best! Not too sweet, by themselves you can make them as evil and as sugary as you would like! I prefer the non ice cream simpler versions actually. The mass produced ones I found too sweet and sickening. Good thing is you can do a half and half too!
This was my culinary journey in Budapest. I would love to hear about yours too… And if this blog helps you make plans, won’t you leave a comment about it 🙂