A few steps from the Basilica, the music-themed Aria Hotel has just launched its brand-new restaurant, Liszt. We Love Budapest had the chance to take a sneak peek behind the scenes before the official opening. And we can safely say that the combination of cuisine and design is completely harmonious – but you should expect a few culinary surprises as far as the homemade bread is concerned.
There’s a certain duality in the name of the new restaurant, Liszt, honouring both Hungarian history and gastronomy. On the one hand, the literal meaning of liszt is flour, one of the crucial ingredients of the unique bread baked fresh here every day; on the other, it’s also a reference to Hungarian maestro Franz Liszt, who founded the prestigious music academy still very much active in Budapest today. We love it!
However, this is not the only duality: the restaurant occupies two main street-front spaces. A room to the left shimmers with crystal glass, velvet and turquoise-emerald hues, and has been patronised by the likes of Sting, Lenny Kravitz and Al Di Meola, whose signatures adorn the mirrors on the wall. To the right, sleek sophistication will make you feel like royalty. At the chef’s table, visitors can take a peek behind the scenes through the open kitchen. The interiors were conceived by prestigious Gold Key Award-winning designer Zoltán Varró.
Sticking with duality, the restaurant takes you back to the times when culture and gastronomy flourished in Hungary, the Golden Age of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Ingredients come from the lands of the former Habsburg Empire, spanning Hungary, Transylvania, the Dalmatian coast and parts of modern-day Ukraine and Slovakia, just by way of immediate example. Chef Gergely Kövér harmonises the flavours of yesteryear with modern kitchen technology, while sweet creations by pastry chef Zsuzsanna Karádi and the cocktail concoctions of Péter Gózon and Richárd Mihály put the icing on the cake.
A meal at Liszt also takes you on a magical musical and gastronomic journey. It all starts with Overture and Paraphrase, bread, butter and water served to guests before each meal, courtesy of the restaurant. As mentioned, the bread is made fresh on the premises – so tasty, you could just have that all day – while the water is filtered and bottled on-site.
The menu features starters (Prelude), soups (Symphony) and mains (Concerto). Among them you find crispy herring fillet with purple potato salad, marinated red onion and mustard seeds (3,200 HUF), duck liver mousse with pomegranate-rhubarb purée, duck ham and brioche (3,800 HUF) and an old fashioned consommé – cooked from various kinds of meat – with egg yolk confit, vegetables and bone marrow on toast (2,800 HUF). On a side note, we recommend you try the duck liver with the sourdough bread as well, they go together perfectly.
For mains we tried the highlight of the seasonal menu, braised beef ribs with cured tenderloin, caramelised onion purée, sweet corn purée, red wine jus and homemade cornbread (6,500 HUF). A complex dish that we absolutely loved.
As a dessert (Encore), we had bread and apricot jam with acacia flower and bread-crust ice cream (1,900 HUF). Yeah, that’s right, the ice cream is also made of bread, and the taste of it really comes through. Complete with the sweetness of the apricot, it’s a very balanced dish. Our favourite dessert would still be the strawberry-almond cremeaux with buckwheat ice-cream, and quinoa crisp (1,900 HUF).
To wet your whistle, you can try something from the selection of aperitif and digestif cocktails or the wide variety of – mostly Hungarian – wines. Between noon and 6pm, guests are welcome for lunch (Sonata), when besides the à la carte dishes, lighter bites and classics such as craft burgers and a Caesar salad feature. A romantic rendezvous or an evening out with friends, Liszt is a great choice for all occasions. And don’t forget, after dinner you can toast sundown with a drink at the hotel’s amazing rooftop bar.
Liszt Restaurant Website District V. Hercegprímás utca