New menu at Budapest’s historic Gundel is a feast for the senses
Considered a legend in Budapest’s ever-evolving gastronomy scene, the Gundel restaurant has hosted acclaimed guests from Queen Elizabeth II to Jennifer Lawrence. Dating back 120 years, this traditional Hungarian dining destination has recently switched up a gear to provide the cream of Magyar cuisine, as the kitchen is headed by new chef Zsolt Litauszki, a seasoned master. While the ambience is still defined by white tablecloths, precious Munkácsy paintings and delicate Zsolnay porcelain, the menu has been taken to greater heights to offer goulash and goose liver created with 21st-century style.
In recent years, as nearby City Park has been undergoing great transformations, its iconic restaurant, the Gundel, has been enticing royalty, film stars, sportsmen and world leaders. Sir Roger Moore, Michael Schumacher, Kofi Annan, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have all enjoyed the revered Gundel hospitality during their stays in Budapest.
Now, with chef Litauszki, a new management and a reinforced team in place, the Gundel is digging back to its roots, when founder Károly Gundel placed the restaurant, and subsequently Hungary, on the world’s gastronomic map in the early 20th century. However, the new Gundel chef has much more in store than simply reviving a heritage. Litauszki, using his profound fine dining experience, dreams up a symphony of treats inspired by local culinary traditions and forward-looking trends.
To start with, creamy guinea-fowl pâté and quince are served as an amuse-bouche, while a gold-rimmed plate presents the butter that, as a reference to the iconic Gundel logo, forms the shape of an elephant.
For an appetiser, crispy romaine lettuce with honeydew melon and goose crackling (3,500 forints) is a refreshingly light dish that goes well with a glass of Furmint. Another starter treat, bearing the name of Gundel’s ‘The Trio’ (7,900 forints), features three types of goose liver, smoked, pan-fried and creamed.
During dinner, Gundel’s own band plays pleasant music. It feels like as if the whole staff has benefitted from this rhythmic attraction, inspiring everyone from hosts to the sommelier to work in synergy throughout the event. This is what defines the new Gundel experience.
Whether it’s a group of business people from Toronto, an old couple from the US or a local family celebrating a birthday, everyone is in for the same treat, where each course is delivered on elegant porcelain plates produced by the famed Zsolnay factory in Pécs.
Meanwhile, Hungarian goulash soup arrives in the same fashion. Then there are the mains, featuring free-range farm chicken (5,900 forints), served here in two acts to represent the distinct style that Litauszki can bring to the Gundel table. For this dish, a small jar contains a base of chicken heart and gizzard, topped with a layer of egg and parsley foam. Complex in its taste, modern in its technology, and innovative in its presentation.
The second part of the delicate duo is chicken stew, with a deep red colour and aromatic flavours. It’s paired with spätzle on the side and fresh Hungarian Siller wine, as suggested by the sommelier.
Any meal at the Gundel is crowned by its recreated Hungarian desserts. Whether it’s the lúdláb chocolate cake or the floating island, the appearance of these sweets is reminiscent of French-style confectionery, while the basic ingredients evoke traditional Magyar flavours.
Six-course tasting menu options also feature, available from 23,500 forints. This new epoch in the Gundel history hints that its legacy is now carried on with pride and it will remain a coveted dining destination for many a prestigious guest.
- 1146 Budapest, Gundel Károly út 4.