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Feel part of high society at Société Bistro & Bar

Founded by a publisher and philanthropist who throws his support behind causes like the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Société has the trappings of a restaurant targeting society’s upper echelons. This elegant ground-floor bistro in focal District V acts as the entryway to a complex that takes up a whole building, with venues for cultural and culinary evenings, art happenings and private events.

Société Bistro & Bar may feel very exclusive, but the prices are reasonable for the quality, which means you don’t have to spend like a member of high society to enjoy Société’s gourmet cuisine and superb service.

The first-class treatment starts when you are efficiently seated by the greeter and quickly receive attention from one of the bright, young hospitality professionals on the serving staff. Your apéritif can be chosen from an impressive range of hard liquors – Rutte Barrel-Aged genever, anyone? – or their attractive selection of craft beers. If you're feeling adventurous, Société's signature cocktails are decorative, and generally work out to taste as good as they look.

The more solid part of the meal is chosen from the well thought-out if concise selection of creative and contemporary Hungarian-style cuisine.

The new à la carte menu came into force this September, recalling the colours and flavours of the season. Autumn means mushroom season – one starter, for example, is wild-mushroom velouté. Grapes, raisins and renowned Hungarian dessert wine Tokaji aszú also appear among the ingredients.

Main courses also exceed tradition. The saddle of hare (4,950 HUF) is embellished by cauliflower, coconut and pomegranate. The Hungarian mangalica pork (4,950 HUF), served with potato gnocchi, red cabbage and anise, is fall-off-the-bone soft and richly flavoursome. Both of the steak offerings are satisfying, with the rib eye (7,950 HUF) perhaps coming out on top by virtue of the nicely spiced mashed potatoes that come with it.

If you're avoiding meat, there's branzino fish with sweet potatoes and figs, or a tasty risotto with blood orange, gorgonzola and fennel (3,700 HUF). Whatever your dietary needs, you can refer to the menu, which flags dishes that contain gluten, lactose, nuts, fish, eggs, etc.

When ordering your food, do take a couple of minutes to talk to the sommelier about the best wine pairing. Her recommendations are spot on, and even if you don't want wine, her knowledge about the flavours and bodies of Hungarian vintages, and what works well together, makes for entertaining listening.

The short dessert list does not disappoint, continuing the streak of creative combinations with plums, cinnamon and vanilla, and beetroot, dark chocolate and tonka beans.

The setting is a ground-floor dining room with big windows onto Sas utca and soft lighting coming from rather dramatic lamps. The design is modern, and perhaps a bit over the top, but inobtrusive enough, and the tables feel nicely private.

The dining room is on the street side of the ground floor in an open atrium. At the back, a fancy-looking bar manned by pros offers the aforementioned massive inventory of booze. Whatever your social standing, the drinks, service and scenery can create the sensation of being above it all.

Société Bistro & Bar District V. Sas utca 15

Open: Tue-Sat noon-midnight

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