While in Budapest during our recent Viking River Cruise, we decided to skip the ship food and seek out a bona fide Hungarian dining experience. As luck would have it, the bartender on duty was Hungarian and didn't hesitate to draw us a map to Mátyás Pince (which was fortuitously located only a short walk from where we were docked). This 100+ year old restaurant charmed us upon entry with its starched linens, sparkling glassware, professional waitstaff, live Gypsy music and authentic Hungarian and Renaissance decor. Suffering mightily from jet-lag, our drooping eyelids forced us there at the most European-ungodly dining hour of 6:00 PM, which explains the empty venue. It was filling up nicely by the time we finished a leisurely 2-hour dinner and headed back to the Njord, however.
Warm, crusty bread and sparkling wine were dispensed while we perused the menu. Doesn't this look romantic?
We started with Rare Muscovy Duck Breast stuffed with duck liver and presented on a bed of greens...
...and a selection of Royal Pâtés. Liver was present in abundance on Mátyás Pince's menu, which always earns my great favor.
We both then proceeded to slurp the proffered bowls of classic Hungarian beef goulash soup, which was far more amazing than I ever would've expected and nothing like anything I've ever tasted in the U.S. that was labeled "goulash" - thinner, more "noodly" and laden with hearty chunks of beef.
Settling on an entree selection was so difficult that my final decision practically came down to a coin toss. Offerings all sounded homey and comforting, ranging from roasted goose leg to bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, to beef cheek braised in carrot sauce with dumplings...the tantalizing list of options never seemed to end. I chose wisely with my Steak Budapest-Style, which was served atop potato croquettes and a pool of veggie ragout. The fact that it was crowned with a slab of goose liver and a giant broiled mushroom cap took it over the top. Folks, we have a winner!
I thought UD's sirloin chop with fried potatoes, bacon and onions looked a little "ugly stepsister-ish" by comparison, but I didn't hear any complaints.
Desserts were off the chain. My better half's plum strudel packed a fruity punch and was served with a brandy-laced prune ragout.
HOWEVER...it was trumped by my Gundel pancakes flambéed in rum. Oh, did I mention that they were filled with ground walnuts, slathered in chocolate sauce and set afire at the table?
Such a fabulous dining experience...and one that I'll remember for the rest of my life.
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.