After winning a Hungarian cooking-competition show, Magyar chef Ádám Németh gained just enough popularity to open his own eatery. The Selection entered the culinary scene of Budapest’s District V as a fine-casual gastro bar with a simple, modern design and a similarly contemporary kitchen, featuring mouthwatering meats smoked in a BBQ Pit Box that we can pair with a wide variety of side dishes.
The heart of District V, near Arany János Street and St. Stephen’s Basilica, is rich with fine-dining restaurants, steakhouses, Italian and Turkish eateries, Asian street-food spots, and confectioneries selling sweet donuts and chocolate-covered strawberries. Since the genre of so-called fine-casual cuisine isn’t widespread in this area, The Selection intends to be a pioneer of this scene. The restaurant’s design is as sleek and simple as can be, dominated by wooden surfaces and the color white, following the plans of Dóra Fónagy. The large counter, the special ecosystem of air-refreshing plants, and the mirrors give an additional, contemporary character to the space. In the summer season, the restaurant has a small yet lively terrace.
We particularly like that the main focus is on the product – that is, on the food. Following the gastronomic concept, the BBQ Pit Box leisurely smokes some great meats in the kitchen: spare ribs, pork chops, and chicken. As to not overpower the natural flavors of the meats, they are treated with dry marinade and paired with imaginative side dishes and various pickled produce, such as shallot, red onion, and even melon. To wash down the meaty meals, we can choose among carefully selected wines and artisanal beers, including items from breweries Rothbeer, Bigfoot, and Szent András.
Ádám Németh first became popular when he competed in “A Konyhafőnök” (“The Kitchen Bosses”), a Hungarian cooking-competition TV show, and eventually won. The fans of the humble chef were yearning to taste his culinary creations for a long time, and now the opportunity is here in the form of The Selection, led by him and chef Péter Góczi.
Not all of the restaurant’s dishes are prepared in the smoker, but most have at least one component that has been in the Pit Box. The Selection already offers two- and three-course lunch menus for 1,590 and 1,990 forints. However, we decided to test the à la carte menu.
The first menu features a nice, summery gazpacho, but our attention was caught by the “mesterleves” (1,390 HUF), an Asian beef soup with Vietnamese and Chinese influences, served with two large, deliciously roasted beef slices. Among the appetizers, we can find eggplant cream and rillettes, as well, but this time we decided to taste the Chili con Selection (1,950 HUF), gourmet chili beans without corn, cooked with a secret spice combination. We didn’t even touch the two slices of bread it was served with; the pickled onion was enough.
The pulled-pork sandwich (2,490 HUF) hides crunchy pickled cucumbers within the meat, resulting in the best kind of comfort food we could ask for. We tasted traditional sausage with rosemary and paprika, as well as Bavarian white sausage with mustard and vegetables hand-pickled by the chef’s family. Our favorite dish, however, ended up being the BBQ beef ribs (5,591 HUF), served in slices on a bed of sweet-potato purée seasoned with rose pepper. Ádám jokingly commented that we could eat this dish with a straw, referring to the meat’s unbelievably tender texture. This is the kind of dish that would tempt a vegetarian to cheat just for one evening.
Despite its recent opening, The Selection boasts a convincing and remarkable kitchen with great flavors. It’s undoubtedly an excellent contemporary gastro bar, and hopefully remain that way for a long time.
Address: Budapest 1051, Október 6. Street 19
Opening hours: Sunday - Thursday, 11am - 11pm; Friday - Saturday, 11am - midnight