There's a new addition to the brunch options in the V District, and they serve what's possibly the best French toast in town. We visited Á la Maison and tasted their breakfasts, croissants, sweets and detox drinks.
We recently wrote a breakfast round-up, which we loved to do, but which filled us with a certain sadness, because we couldn't find a spot with the perfect croques and French toasts to include. Many gave it a try, but most proved to be short of authentic. They sold egg-coated bread with powdered sugar instead of real French toast, while their version of a croque madame was simply sandwich bread toasted dry with an egg on it. There is nothing worse than hoping for your favourite and getting a cheap copy. Just like there isn't anything more satisfying than finding the perfect one.
The area around St. Stephen's Basilica is as mixed in terms of hospitality options as the VII District is. We know the best soup bar, eatery, club, cocktail bar, speciality coffee bar and street food spots, but we don't now nearly enough places that focus on all-day breakfasts. Instead of pushing the bagel and the latte in the hands of people rushing to work, Á la Maison specialises in slower, more tranquil and relaxed breakfasts (although take away is also an option).
The environment is ideal: it lacks kitsch, it has simple white plates, a vaulted ceiling restored to its original state, and a spacious parlour, plus soon there'll be a terrace. Some spots that have a French/vintage style are overly sweet, but Á la Maison channels all its sweetness into its dessert breakfasts.
Let's take it slow and start with the salty selection: egg plates in every version from the simple ham and eggs (650 HUF) to the gourmet's fave Eggs Benedict (1490 HUF), classic French breakfast plate (990 HUF), egg-coated bread with extras (from 550 HUF), sandwich variations (from 790 HUF) including grilled cheese options, wraps (1090 HUF) and the breakfast of the house (1800 HUF), which comes with a wine-marinated duck liver paté. The Italian delicacies, like the bresaola, the prosciutto cotto/crudo and the mortadella are all imported from Italy. The lunch menu can be soup+sandwich or soup+salad, available in a wide selection. The pastries are superb, the croissant is baked on site, and the glass counter holds a changing cake and cookie selection too.
When it comes to the sweets, we have to talk about the holy trinity of waffles, French toast and American pancakes, since its the strongest point of Á la Maison. Everything tastes authentic, the butter on point, the marvellous maple syrup is the real deal, and the blueberries aren't the defrosted deep frozen kind. The French toast is available in several versions: we tried the one with a strawberry mascarpone filling and savoured every bite with that eyes-closed kind of pleasure. Next time, we'll go for the maple syrup version (1190 HUF). It's a huge portion, enough for two. The American pancake is thick and soft, like they do it in the States. The blueberry variation costs 750 forints, but you can also go for the wholemeal pancakes spread with Nutella. Of course, you can ask for the fruit-only version, and there is also oatmeal and muesli - if you can withstand ordering one of the brutal desserts.The coffee is all right, and they can prepare your latte with plant-based milks (coconut, almond, rice or soy) as well.
The pleasant atmosphere of Á la Maison and the relaxed feel to the place comes, in part, from the fact that the owners are siblings, and the partner of one of them also works there. Service is courteous and by no means pushy. Soon, the terrace in front of the parlour will also be open to complete this great new spot.