Take a seat at Tasting Table to try Hungary’s top wines and foods
Photo : Brian H. Neely/Tasting Table
11/12/2014, 3:13 AM●3-minute article
When first stepping into the comfortably charming brick-walled cellar that houses Tasting Table, it’s easy to imagine that you’re visiting friends who just happen to have an extraordinary collection of Hungarian and Central European wines, all of which they’re happy to share over delicious morsels and lively conversation. In fact, this initial impression is quite close to the truth, as Tasting Table is the recently opened culinary hangout of the convivial husband-and-wife tour-guide team leaders Gábor and Carolyn Bánfalvi, and they welcome everyone to discover the nation’s finest flavors here.
Located in downtown Pest just a few steps away from the National Museum, Tasting Table is the newest enterprise launched by Carolyn and Gábor after many years of operating the renowned Taste Hungary tour company, specializing in taking visitors on creative gastronomical excursions throughout Budapest, the countryside, and beyond. Tasting Table now serves as headquarters for this award-winning touring business, but like a fine wine that becomes more complex as it ages, the character of this place grows continually more intricate and interesting as time goes by.
Tasting Table is not a wine bar, although visitors are certainly encouraged to sip good libations here with the assistance of a full-time sommelier; it’s also not exactly a shop, but scores of excellent (and reasonably priced) bottles of wine from throughout Hungary and the surrounding regions are sold here, along with local craft beers, pálinka brandy, and artisanal edibles like paprika paste, honey, and pumpkin-seed oil. Tasting Table is not a restaurant either, even though the complete show kitchen can be used to prepare hot feasts for private parties or to demonstrate cooking techniques. So, while we are not exactly sure how to categorize Tasting Table, we are absolutely glad to discover this place.
Rustically decorated with shelves built from old wine crates and tables attractively pieced together from mismatched scrap wood, Tasting Table is an absolutely unpretentious center for enjoying the amazing diversity of Hungarian wines with a rotating assortment of varieties available to drink on-site by the glass, along with carefully constructed wine flights available anytime during the open hours of 11am to 5pm every day. Different Hungarian wine-producing regions are highlighted every month with a special selection of each area’s specialties, while the kitchen provides platters of select regional cheeses and meat specialties to accompany every sip.
In the future, Gábor and Carolyn plan to host wine-themed dinner parties at Tasting Table, and this is already becoming a popular spot for private parties and relaxed receptions, as well as the starting and finishing point of several Taste Hungary tours. Regardless of when or why people visit, the warm spirit of this place certainly makes guests feel at home while savoring high-quality Hungarian hospitality.