Open since 1894, this is one of Budapest’s best known and most expensive restaurants, located in an Art Nouveau palace– Conde Nast Magazine
The distinguished city of Budapest is known for many things; the grand Danube River that divides both Buda and Pest; the historical Castle Hill that majestically watches over the country’s capital; and Gundel, the city’s finest restaurant for over 120 years.
After opening their doors in 1894, Gundel had been considered Budapest’s most elegant and gastronomic restaurants for many years. Although over the last century, Gundel had transitioned and changed ownerships several times after World War II, this fine establishment remained strong and evolved into the refined restaurant it is today.
This classic Hungarian restaurant takes its name from ‘Károly Gundel’ who modernized the older provincial dishes into an elevated and enticing culinary affair.
In 1910, Károly Gundel rents the Wampetics Inn from the city and renames it Gundel Restaurant. He is ready to take on the work of modernizing the menu and reforming the service and the entire kitchen system. And he succeeds!
Károly Gundel himself does not cook. He never holds a wooden spoon in his hands; however, he is an expert at tasting. He makes lightly steamed spinach presentable, and introduces asparagus as a side dish. In 1939, the young Károly Gundel’s restaurant will become the official restaurant of the Hungarian pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. In 1939, the New York Times writes: “The Gundel Restaurant is a bigger, better publicity from Budapest than a boatload of tourist brochures.”– Taken from Gundel Restaurant Website
Gundel was the first place I visited in Hungary after I checked into my flat, which was close to the Old Jewish quarter of Budapest. I hopped onto the subway, which happens to be the oldest underground in Europe, and got off at the Hosok tere stop. It was a nice short walk but not without strolling past the magnificent Hosok tere, along the edges of the beautiful City Park.
I arrived early and wandered the lovely grounds and elegant outdoor seating of Gundel. I must have looked precarious because the hostess came outside to greet me and asked if I needed anything. Since I already had a reservation for one and was early, I was invited in for a drink at the Lobby Bar.
A classic Gin and Tonic inside the elegant lobby bar was a marvelous way to begin my coursed lunch.
There was a sense of refinement and old aristocracy inside Gundel. The rich wood furnishings, hanging pendant lightings paired with the royal blue and gold carpeting, created a sophisticated dining space. It felt both comfortable and luxurious, the best of both worlds.
Every tasteful detail was not spared in the table settings either. Crisp white linens, towering napkin sculptures, classic silver flatware and matching china that seamlessly blended in with the restaurant’s color motif.
Since this meal was the start of a six week solo journey through Eastern Europe and the Balkans, I decided to celebrate with myself and go all out. I ordered a very extravagant and lavish lunch but with no dessert. I saved that treat for one of the oldest dessert restaurants in the city, Gerbeaud!
— On the Table —
For myself, the serving of an Amuse Bouche has always been a special way to start an elegant meal. It is a bite-sized miniature course, complementary from the chef and given to to taste a glimpse of the chef’s style of food preparation.
Fresh Bread Rolls and Butter
It is all in the details! Breaking bread with a couple of freshly baked crescent styled rolls served on elegant china.
Between 2008 and 2016, the restaurant receives four spoons and forks (comfort and quality at the luxury level) in the Michelin Guide.Gundel Restaurant Website
Gundel is well known for their wine selection, including many of the best regional wines.
Since I was ordering red meat for my main course, I asked for a regional Pinot Noir. I was poured a beautiful glass of ‘2016 St. Andrea ‘Csakegyszoval’ Egri Pinot Noir’, from Eger Hungary. It was a very delicious red wine that had a fruity taste blend and paired nicely with my filet. I was impressed on how it carried the fullness of my meat course very well.
This exquisite white and gold patterned bowl, full of a vibrant red traditional Hungarian Fish Soup was a delicious play on classy and provincial. This National dish of fresh fish and ground Hungarian paprika was a favorite of mine, since I favor both. The selections of fish were very fresh and the broth was quite flavorful. This was one of the most delicious and memorable fish soups that I have eaten, so far!
Filet Topped with Seared Foie
This is where I went all out for my lavish lunch. This was a divine main course of a medium-rare filet, topped with a thick serving of seared foie gras and drizzled with a savory brown sauce. The tender root vegetables were a perfect addition to this savory meat dish. The presentation was perfect as well as the flavors. This dish was a flawless representation of Gundel’s magnificent presence in the world of classic gastronomy.
Gundel Restaurant was everything I hoped that my luxurious lunch would be. From the moment I stepped into the lobby bar for my Gin and Tonic, to my last bite of seared foie gras, I felt that I had experienced a special moment in my gastronomic journey. Not only for the cuisine but the history and longevity of this restaurant, as well as the hospitality and classic refinement found in every detail of this restaurant. Gundel is legendary.
For restaurant information and reservations, please visit Gundel Restaurant
Eat well. Live well. Be well.
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