Next to the Opera House, three young Ukrainians run a place that looks elegant at first glance but immediately becomes homely upon entering. It has an international feel to it, and what's more, one of their tables offers a fabulous view of the Basilica. Their borscht soup comes with duck meat, served with pork fat, bread, sour cream, and spring onions, and they casually grate truffles into their mashed potatoes. Plus, with a good aim, you can win a glass of wine at Cork Breakfast & Wine.
Average prices in an above-average venue
Cork Breakfast & Wine's proximity to World Heritage Site Andrássy Avenue and St Stephen's Basilica, the breathtaking view, and the wine bar character all suggest that the place targets the upper class. But it does not. With its welcoming, pleasant atmosphere and prices similar to an average bistro, you don't have to suit up in a tuxedo and win the lottery to have breakfast here.
From breakfast to late-night toasts
Nataliia, the restaurant’s brand manager, Artem, the founder and co-owner, and Myroslav, the head chef, welcomed us on a weekday morning. They gave us first-hand experience of what they think about gastronomy and hospitality. Their concept, as their name suggests, is that Cork is open from morning till night and offers a wide range of choices. You can drop in for coffee and dessert, a weekend brunch, a wine-bar night out, or a pre-theatre/opera cocktail. From 9 am to 10 pm, whenever you like.
The chef: Myroslav Pasechnyi
Despite his youth, Myroslav Pasechnyi, a native of Mukachevo, has a wealth of international experience, having worked in hotels and restaurants from Kyiv to Bangkok. But now his headquarters are in Budapest. We tasted his creations; breakfasts, main courses, and desserts, all of which could be described as harmonious and balanced. We didn't lack anything, and we liked that the Cork cuisine isn’t trying too hard to be fashionable, it is rather fresh, with a nice touch of more homely Ukrainian flavours. It is very easy to pick up the thread, interesting ingredients and flavours characterise Myroslav's work.
Breakfast at Cork
Let's start with the morning treats: classic big-city breakfasts like poached eggs with avocado and salmon, omelettes, scrambled eggs, granola with yoghurt, French toast with maple syrup, and berries are all on the menu. You can even order a shakshuka or polenta meal with sautéed mushrooms, and eggs. We started with a distinctly Ukrainian breakfast delicacy: the gombovci, which is similar to the Hungarian cottage cheese dumpling. These dumplings are steamed and served in a spicy, silky cardamom sauce. A light sweetness. There are several types of bruschetta listed on the menu, of which we tried the avocado, crabs, and tomato combo on toasted sourdough bread: an amazing (day)starter.
Borscht for lunch, dinner, anytime
The biggest hit was the borscht soup speciality, which they are justifiably proud of and which we definitely wanted to try. Tasty and heart-warming, it also goes very well with pulled duck meat piled on top of the beetroot. The beetroot, by the way, was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2022. We loved it too, and we're sure that any of your guests from Slavic countries will appreciate the Cork version. We were also served a plate of bread, very thinly sliced bacon, sour cream, and spring onions, which we enjoyed with the soup. Many families in Ukraine eat it this way, which is quite understandable.
Myroslav also recommended our main course, which was beef cheek with plum jus, crispy onions, and truffle potato puree. It might be a favourite for carnivores, the intense aroma will leave a lasting memory. We like the fact that they don't skimp on the salt, nor on the more characteristic spices.
Drop the cork and win another glass!
Their cocktails are quite intense too: classics and signature drinks are both available, with a nice and professional finish, in case you prefer mixed drinks instead of wine or champagne.
Since the name is Cork, you can make an safe guess that the wines are also their forte.
They mostly offer Hungarian wines, and the chef complimented the local batches, saying that they are not only a pleasure to drink but a delight to work with. They also have a little surprise for those who order their wine by the bottle: to the right of the bar is a plexiglass case full of corks. When you finish your wine, you can try to aim the cork into one of the holes cut in the plexiglass... If you get it right, you'll get a cork painted with the place's logo, which you can redeem for another glass of wine!
To finish, we also tried their truffle tart, richly served with caramel cream. It is the opposite of gombovci, as it is a heavy chocolate tart, and worth splitting in half due to its intensity. No worries, some bubbles make up for it.
All in all, we recommend Cork Breakfast & Wine for brunch, coffee and snacks, a pre-theatre gathering, a romantic dinner, or to relax after work. You'll see from which table we caught a glimpse of the Basilica: you can hardly find a more romantic spot in the area.