Budapest’s Tigris restaurant changes its stripes
The Tigris restaurant has been a point of reference in Budapest’s gastronomic scene for over a decade. Recently, a major transformation has taken place and the brasserie atmosphere is now accompanied by contemporary design – plus one of the best bars in the city centre.
The history of the Tigris began in the 1800s when a hotel was built of the same name, with a dining outlet on the ground floor. While the modern-day owners retained the name, their original plan was to establish a bistro without overdoing the elegance – later realising that serving fine wines of this quality required suitable surroundings.
Though it’s been a fair time in coming, this March saw the Tigris transformed and ironed out. Renovation has been kind, keeping revered elements while not having to answer to the latest trends. A cupboard now functions as a bar counter, the most exciting part of the new space. With a checked floor, copper-framed, bottle-green stools and globe lamps, this is now one of the most beautiful bars in the vicinity.
However, the change in the interior does not mean that they have changed their creed or their gastronomy. The Tigris still works with Hungarian flavours – just as guests like it, making this one of the best restaurants in Budapest. Regularly observed by the men from Michelin, whose guide always makes special mention of the outstanding wine selection here, the team at Tigris can be proud of the top-notch vintages they stock, as well as their exciting food-and-wine combinations.
So if you are looking for a refined meal with wine brought to the fore, then this restaurant is a wise choice. Not only for foreign diners who would like to become more acquainted with Hungary’s wine culture, but for locals who would to like to explore above and beyond the usual range offered at many wineries, whether it’s the latest bottle by Szepsy, Gere or Figula. How many other restaurants can you think of where the wine of the house is a Gere Kopar? The Tigris is, of course, the showcase restaurant for this winery of great renown.
The chef is László Jámbor, entrusted with the job by the previous incumbent and now part of the furniture. Experience counts at an establishment whose concept should never change: consistently high-quality Hungarian flavours. Most notably, goose liver. There is no other restaurant in Budapest that is so goose-livery. (Interestingly enough, these days we’re seeing more and more of duck liver as an appetiser.) As if by coincidence, they have found Hungary’s best producer of goose liver, who mostly prepares for export but can easily cope with the demands of this eatery on Mérleg utca.
We asked Jámbor to show his most signature dishes. There was, of course, no shortage of goose liver, the four variations we tasted being natural goose liver with apricot caviar and camomile jelly, the award-winning goose liver with paprika and strawberry caviar wrapped in mangalica ham, truffle goose liver garnished with plum and dark chocolate, and finally a classic brûlée.
Overall, all variants were outstanding, an assembly that anyone would like to show off to a foreign friend.
We also learned how goose liver can serve as a main course: pumpkin pie and chestnuts came with this flawless, butter-soft variety.
Sirloin à la Budapest could not be left off the menu, and here this means Angus, with paprika cream and goose-liver shavings. The texture was soft as lecsó tomato-and-pepper stew, elaborate and not too intrusive, a nice introduction to modern Hungarian cuisine.
For dessert, the Chef’s Dream is a cake with pumpkin-seed cream as its base, passion fruit and chocolate providing invention.
Prices reflect a fine-dining establishment in the city centre: 2,400-4,600 forints for soups and appetisers, main dishes from 5,500 to 9,900 forints. A gourmet menu costs 22,500 forints.
On the strength of our visit, we can safely say that this is a seriously reliable spot in downtown District V where anyone can safely tuck into contemporary Hungarian cuisine, be it your other half or a long-lost Canadian relative.
District V. Mérleg utca 10
Open: Mon-Sat noon-midnight