It’s always an uplifting experience to visit a place that delivers top quality with genuine enthusiasm. Although the history of Tanti only started two years ago, it was an eventful period. Chef István Pesti guided the top restaurant of Hegyvidék Center to earn a Michelin star, before he left the kitchen of Tanti to be replaced by Olivér Heiszler – who, despite all of the changes, managed to keep the cherished star. It’s a great achievement, and the current team absolutely deserves the title. We recently returned to admire the heavenly flavors, professional service, and marvelous atmosphere.

Because of its somewhat peculiar location in Buda’s Hegyvidék Center, Tanti is a bit out of step with the city’s other Michelin-starred eateries (Costes, Costes Downtown, Onyx, and Borkonyha), all located in downtown Pest; instead, this restaurant is tucked within a shopping mall amid the foothills of District XII. To be fair, the term “shopping mall” is a bit strong, as this is a more intimate consumer complex. Anyway, upon entering Tanti’s door, the location is instantly forgotten: the interior is sophisticated, colorful, and unique, a bit different than the usual trend. We sat at the terrace the first time we were here, but maybe it’s better to dine inside – it has a very pleasant coolness to it, and here we can maximize our experience. This is the kind of coolness that lets us laugh a little louder, ask our waiter to take a picture of us without any embarrassment, or check our e-mails on our laptop during lunchtime. This is something that we wouldn’t normally do in a lot of the other elegant Michelin-starredrestaurants of Hungary (although there are numerous street-food places around the world that gained the Michelin-star). The service goes smoothly: the staff is quick; they pay attention in just the right amount without being intrusive, and can tell us all about the courses and the wines that go well with them – all of this in a well-prepared yet not over-explaining way. The fact that the manager of the restaurant, Eszter Haris, and Olivér Heiszler, the “conductor” of Tanti, are a couple, is another plus in the concept.

Olivér really had a tough task, as he had to maintain already established standards and recognition – and he succeeded. What’s more, if we want to be honest, this time we left with a better overall experience than the last time we were here around their opening in 2014. The 28-year-old chef gained a lot of experience abroad (the UK, Basque Country), and he also worked in Hungary at Cyrano, Costes, ChateauVisz, Mák Bistro, and Aranyszarvas. He uses exciting ingredients; he pairs Hungarian cuisine with Asian influences; he operates with a lot of vegetables, and as we noticed on our plates, he keeps the courses “lively” by adding green colors and different oils. We also have to mention the plates of Tanti: the unique ceramic platters are made especially for the restaurant by Tünde Ruzicska, and they provide a worthy canvas for the artfully prepared dishes.

Tanti has a separate lunch time from noon to 3pm (with a daily special offering two courses for 2,700 HUF or three courses for 4,500 HUF), while dinnertime lasts from 6pm to 11pm; on Saturdays, lunchtime is from noon to 2pm, while the dinner hours remain the same; in the evening they offer three courses for 12,000 forints, five courses for 17,000 forints, seven courses for 22,000 forints. They have a family menu on Sundays that contains three courses for 7,000 forints. The prices are absolutely fair for the Michelin-starred quality of the dishes. We won’t have lunch every day here, but it is something to consider when there’s a special occasion, if we crave a treat that is out of the ordinary, if we want to impress somebody, or show something gastronomically different to an acquaintance. The price of their lunch could easily pass at any average restaurant in a Western European city. This is probably the right way to approach this. Based on our experiences, we would more likely to come to Tanti for stylish and lasting flavors than to any of the mediocre bistros that look budget-friendly at first, but you end up with the same total at the end.

Fresh leavened bread with butter arrives to the table before the meal – it’s hard to resist the temptation of the warm crust, even though we don’t want to spoil our appetite, because even the three- or five-course dinner options provide a serious amount of food. The portions are the largest in the three-course option; due to the array of flavors, the seven-course version has smaller portions. The dishes are still listed by theircomponents, so we trust Olivér Heiszler and his team with the shape and texture of the dishes by only this. The goat cheese-ravioli-salsa verde had a zesty springtime taste to it, the goose liver-rhubarb-beetroot was built on the creaminess of the liver and the contrast between sweet and sour flavors, and the scallops-buttermilk-pineapple had a smooth seaside vibe. The potatoes-sour cream-yolks was a Hungarian-inspired appetizer, and we think it’s the gourmet version of a potato casserole with a special texture. From our main courses, we found the milky suckling pig-radish-endive quite a curious combination, but our absolute favorite was the octopus-cabbage-cumin, which sounds daring, and maybe a little extreme and exaggerated at first. How does octopus end up in an environment inspired by Hungarian cuisine, before ending up on the plate with an Asian overtone? Their common ground became obvious upon the first bite, and when we tasted the recommended sweet white wine with it, we absolutely fell in love with the Hungarian-Asian seafood course.

Tanti is strong in desserts, too: the parsnip-passion fruit-white chocolate is a more feminine sweet, which is sometimes sour, and sometimes sweet and creamy; the cane sugar-treacle-chocolate has elegant looks and taste – it’s a perfumed dessert, and we can tell that it’s very sweet, so it’s a favorite for sugar addicts. But the one we liked the best was the potato-plum-cinnamon combination. It was a plum dumpling that was prepared in a perfect way. Just like the whole dinner. We would return to Tanti anytime.