Top Table

Udvarhaz, Budapest
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Location

Location

Harmashatarhegyi Ut, Buda Hills, Budapest (00 36 1 388 6921)

View

Nothing in this flat land of big skies prepares you for the view. A young Hungarian couple, high on Champagne and love, walked to the balustrade and stared, entranced, at the city far below, until the waiter reminded them their starters were getting cold.

The Danube is a snake-shaped mirror, the parliament and central squares and fields far beyond seem unreachably distant. I stared at the horizon 50 miles away and seemed to see white chargers on the Russian steppes. 10/10

Design and service

Thick wooden tables, old-school leaden tablecloths and cutlery made of something heavier than lead: you could be eating at the table of a nobleman in a Lermontov novel. The waiters wear black and white livery, wave their hands and twirl their moustaches. 8/10

Clientele

A bottle of Unicum, Hungary's national drink (a potent digestif), emptied rapidly at the next table as a doctor from Moscow explained, in broken English, to a politician from Budapest how his import-export scheme would leave them both millions richer. Their bejewelled wives looked out at the view. 7/10

Romance factor

The tableau of Budapest below is red, silver and gold, the fields beyond deepest green. Spread below you is Mitteleuropa, the land of tragic romantic heroes. This is a place to bring your true love, if they don't have vertigo. 10/10

Best table

On the terrace balcony.

Snoot factor

There is sexism at work here. Men should dress as if visiting a cathedral: the Hungarians do. The women were wearing microskirts, and were welcomed.

Toilets

A long way down dark passages lined with oak and photographs of forbidding-looking men, but when you get there, they are scented with lavender. 8/10

Finishing touch

A flourish from two waiters, but no chocolates.

Wine list

Hungary's finest, my hotel concierge told me. I shied away from Bull's Blood (enough of that in the food, I thought) and went for a local Villany Cabernet as expensive as all the rest of the meal put together. It was a little green. 6/10

Price

A pauper is no longer a king in Hungary, but a middle-class Brit is certainly minor royalty. Perch, venison, a bottle of fine wine and a glass of Unicum, essential for the digestion, or so the waiter told me, was less than £20, in Budapest's showiest restaurant. 10/10

Oh yeah, and the food

This is the heart and soul of Hungarian cuisine. My starter was fillet of perch: caught in Lake Balaton and cooked with herbs and oils, it was thick and pungent. A main course of Magyar venison casseroled with forest bilberries had me staring, watery-mouthed, at the distant woods: did such ideally-matched food items really live in such proximity to each other? It would be like lambs living in fields of oregano. 9/10

Comments