Caviar & Bull - Budapest
Updated: May 25
We managed to get a booking at the acclaimed Caviar & Bull Restaurant in Budapest. Marvin Gauci is an award winning chef who has worked mainly in Malta but in many countries around the work. The Corinthia Hotel hosts his second Caviar & Bull restaurant although he has five outlets in total.
Formerly the Royal Hotel, you walk into the entrance and are immediately reminded of other luxurious hotels… it’s a good job we dressed up! The restaurant has a luxurious sophisticated elegance about it and we are greeted with a warm welcome from staff. Patrons are put at ease quite easily and we choose a table by the window. Once seated, one can’t help but be impressed with décor and the layout of the restaurant. It is enhanced with a beautiful bar and even gave us an idea of an ice bar unit that we were trying to do at home where they paid great attention to both mixology and the assortment of fine wines. For instance, the wine list includes several highly elegant and special items well out of our price range.
We ordered the Cosmopolitan Tasting menu and a young female sommelier helped us choose a nice bottle of wine that was a perfect accompaniment. Apple mixed with hints of pineapple and apricot in a lemon yellow wine that was beautifully balanced. A definite go to in future.
The first course was the MARENNES-OLÉRON OYSTERS but before that arrived we were presented with an amuse bouche in the form of a spoon containing a Jelly bubble. Placing it into your mouth the large bubble bursts and the pure olive gives way to a burst of flavour into your mouth. This didn’t just impress Pook, but when we returned home she promptly bought everything needed to make these herself. The first course then arrived and the medium sized oyster came with a choice of two small plastic pipettes to add a note to the oyster. One was lime and one Ponzu soy. This came with some thin kale crisps, micro thin sliced carrot and turnip with a coating of oil and nuts. A Very good start for the night. The next course was the HOUSE SMOKED SALMON CARPACCIO with Parmesan textures, aged balsamic caviar, truffle & honey emulsion, nori julienne, toasted pistachios, cherry tomatoes and to balance off that emulsion there was a hint of lime skin. It was a picture on a plate. Pook thought it was one of the best salmon carpaccio’s she has ever had. The salmon was delicate and thinly sliced and the apple-wood smokey flavour gave it an extraordinary taste. The soft carpaccio contrasted beautifully with the crunch of the pistachio nuts and with what we thought was a goats cheese sphere it just worked wonderfully.
The next round of this tasting menu was the BLACK ANGUS TARTAR. Russian sturgeon caviar was presented with capers, Amarone impregnated shallots, explosive quail egg and whole grain mustard ice cream with twisted Carasau bread. The black angus tartar is second to none and was so tender, it melted like butter in the mouth. I thought this was the best dish so far and could have eaten it every day and twice at Christmas. Full of flavour.
The KING PRAWN IN ANCIENT TEMPURA was the next course to arrive and, well I thought it was the weakest dish to date. It seemed to rely upon the visual black plate with bright (single) prawn and the green of the mango and sweet chilli chutney (the so-called ragout). The “caviar” on the side wasn’t as it was made from sweet chilli into tiny balls to make it look like caviar. On the whole, especially after the tartar it just seemed a bit weak. Now maybe I was still thinking about the prawn but when the SALMON TORTELLACCI arrived I found it quite salty and the pasta to be quite thick and pasty. Pook wasn’t sure she agreed and thought it was “OK”. The dish probably needed a bit more lemon foam to reduce the saltiness and we couldn’t really decide if the pasta was too thick or not.
We were then offered a palate cleanser which was a small cocktail made from the national drink with white wine tikka. It was nice and did the trick perfectly. This was in preparation for the signature dish the LOBSTER POPCORN.
Maybe you can decide with the photographs but, whilst appreciating what we are getting for the price, we thought the lobster looked more like a crayfish. It was presented on a very grandly designed plate but there was actually very little to it. In summary we decided it was or had been a lobster but there wasn't a lot to it and must have just met legal standards. It was served with chilli and ginger chutney, micro greens and spicy mayo. At this point (and after consuming more wine) we started comparing it to the Westbury. We couldn't easily split the two, but not too many dishes here made me go OMG! (Beef tartar aside). The sommelier had previously suggested a wine to go with this course and perhaps it was the language differences but we hadn't confirmed we wanted it as we didn’t know how squishy we were likely to get by this point. However, it turned up anyway, a small but exquisite glass of 2015 yellow golden nectar to accompany the SEARED FOIE GRAS.
You remember me saying not many OMG moments? Well here was one. The Hungarian foie gras had been pan seared and was an OMG moment it was just so nice. It just dropped away in your mouth and was so gorgeous you hardly knew you actually eating meat. The chocolate moss was really quite sweet, maybe a little bit too sweet but it was still divine. Served with a raspberry hollandaise and mandarin caviar and coco bean tuille it was a perfect offering.
Now you sometimes get different reactions when you are sat there intent on documenting exactly what you are eating. Some serving staff stay clear and some pay particular attention. What happened next may have been as a result of our intent writing, chatting about the flavours etc and other aspects of the feed but the head waiter arrived and asked if we would like to take our final course at the Chefs Table!
What a lovely surprise to be offered to sit at the Chefs Table! We followed him to a small table in an alcove at the end of the large clean and very well organised commercial kitchen. The wall behind us was covered in messages from other patrons who had enjoyed this experience. DRINK ME! was the last course and was a glimmering strawberry consommé which was poured over compressed watermelon. Gin, candy floss and an ice pop finished off this dish beautifully. The restaurant manager came over and explained that they were opening a new section to a restaurant specialising in a very visual experience to accompany good food. This sounded like a brilliant idea because wherever we have been, the experience of the food has almost always been enhanced by careful visual presentation. Pookie wrote on the wall and left a mark as sawasdeekat.com
In summary, we had the Cosmopolitan tasting menu and it was absolutely delicious. The menu was very well balanced with extra treats along the way. The service could not be faulted and every member of staff was friendly and welcoming. The evening finished with a table in the chef's kitchen which was an unexpected and delightful surprise.
The total price was an eye watering £250 but around £80 of that was on the wine. Therefore for us it was OK value for money wise and if we were in Hungary we would travel 40 miles to eat here again.