Aranyszarvas, Restaurant in Budapest, Hungary
This has been my favorite restaurant in Budapest for many years. It became a place of many lunches in the Hungarian capital as some years ago the office of an affiliated company I worked with was just around the corner. Today I only come at night and it is very nice as well.
This restaurant offers an appropriate mix of classic style, elegance and coziness. You feel immediately very snugly like in a familiar big living room.
The food is a perfect combination of high end Hungarian cuisine and an excursion into southern European styles.
The menu is constantly changing and oriented to the seasons, but probably also to the weekly inspirations of the chef. What I really like is that you recognize an individual character and – let’s call it – a signature in all of the dishes. Whether you take the fish, chicken or some lamb, the way it is prepared and cooked is somehow similar, always down to earth in its substance but subtly flavored.
You can almost always find something rare on the menu. Very recently I had mouflon with “tarhonya”: the meat was prepared in the style of goulash, the consistency rather rough but not tough. The taste had a special character which you can experience only with meat of wild animals. This came along with Hungarian egg-based pasta grain. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_barley). It looks even a little bit like couscous but it doesn’t like it of course as it is made our of wheat flour. And this one I had was certainly fried quickly in butter. Very delicious!
Among the appetizers there are always some classic soups which I always appreciate. Straightforward, without any “lemon-grass” experience and committed to the resources of home garden or stable.
Bear’s garlic soup
Beef Brooth with farina dumblings
The deserts are relatively distant from that what you would expect as Hungarian sweets. This seems to be only area in which the chef really experiments. Normally Hungarian desserts are similar to rich Austrian strudel or cheese curd dumplings. In Aranyszarvas you get individual interpretations of such classics as crème brulée or floating islands.
The service is solid and friendly but not too special unfortunately. This is a place you would expect a present host. Since Hungary is a rich wine country I would be happy to learn something more about these wines – coming from apart – but the presentation of the selections of this restaurant is a little bit undedicated and without the same inspiration as the cooking. Unfortunately it even can happen that some selected wines aren’t in the best temperature.