Baraka Restaurant Budapest
Andrássy Hotel ©FourBees travel pic March 2007
Best of Budapest - the new Baraka restaurant
The Andrássy Hotel was designed in the 1930s by Olympic swimmer and architect Alfréd Hajós (1878-1955).
It was originally intended as an orphanage for Jewish boys.
A new plaque, in both Hungarian and English, placed on the hotel wall by the Alfréd Hajós Society (HAT), reveals that Hajós was Hungary's first Olympic champion, a great achievement.
He won gold in the 100-metre and 1,200-metre swimming events at the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1986.
Hajós also designed the Nemzeti Sport swimming pool on Margit-sziget.
The Andrássy Hotel building is a Bauhaus design, with elegantly curved corners and smooth lines.
This is the new venue for Baraka restaurant which takes over the ground floor from previous inhabitants, Zebrano and prior to that, the Mosaic Cafe.Baraka leaves the narrow, claustrophobic Magyar utca in District V and moves up a number.
It also gains a fabulous terrace and garden dining area which will be wonderful this steamy summer.
STOP PRESS It appears that the chef Tzadok Levi, who delighted us so much with his creations on the last evening of Baraka in Magyar utca, is no longer the kitchen supremo.
That honour now goes to Shani Prusman, a USA-qualified chef with Irish-Israelic roots and interesting inspirations and influences.
All the more reason to revisit Baraka and try out the latest culinary creations.Baraka moves to District VII recently had the good fortune to dine at Budapest's very best restaurant, Baraka, on the last occasion it offered sublime cuisine and expertly chosen wine on Magyar utca, before David, Leora and sommelier Sándor closed up shop and moved up in the world to the swanky premises of the ground floor of the Andrássy Hotel, near Hôsök tere (Heroes' Square).
That final evening was too much of a gorge-fest for yours truly to sit there with the notebook secreted under the table.
Link to Baraka menu from the last evening in Magyar utca.
We were wowed with such delights as self-trained wizard of the kitchen Tzadok Lavi's seared foie gras accompanied by Sándor Papp's choice of a wonderfully syrupy Tokaj, and some sensitively prepared sea bass and delicate slivers of duck.
So that you don't feel neglected, here is a review I compiled for a dreary local paper in 2002.Of course, I will return to review the new look Baraka once they have settled in.Especially as I have to check out details for a New York magazine and restaurant guide, who appreciate such sophisticated delights, unlike the afore-mentioned dullard rag.
Essence of Life
Sublime cuisine, expertly selected wines and personal service make this the best dining experience in Budapest
A FourBees review
For many years, I had an apartment in the centre of Budapest just behind the Astoria Hotel, on the narrow and dingy Magyar utca.
I ventured into the uninspiring Talk Talk café only once, despite it being only two paces away from my front door.
On that depressing occasion, my friend and I went in, sat down, were studiously ignored for 20 minutes, then stood up and left in a communal huff.
How ironic then that soon after I moved away, that same premises should change hands and transform into one of the best restaurants in town.
Baraka had been recommended to me, enthused over and raved about on so many occasions, that I felt deeply sorry - and also stupid - to have left it so late before trying it out. Anyway, I’ve put that right now, and will doubtlessly return again and again.
Baraka has a solid fan base and those who enjoy healthy, taste-filled dishes with imaginative combinations - it’s called 'fusion' cuisine these days - come back time after time.
Co-owner Leora Levi moves about the room, greeting guests like old friends, suggesting dishes and wines.
She even advises against some dishes, with refreshing honesty, when she feels that the ingredients aren’t up to scratch.
Decorations in the tiny room are sparse and stylish.Gorgeous white lamps hang down from the upper balcony and the plum-colored walls recall the warmth of the Middle East.
Leora said, however, that she had not quite captured the atmosphere she wanted, so she will redecorate in March.
The menu is a tasteful square containing just the right number of dishes.The entrées and main dishes were all described in such a mouth-watering manner, and the taste combinations so unusual and tempting, that we spent a long time deliberating.
Then Leora advised and we had to start all over again! I chose a mixed salad (Ft850) which was an inspired and artistically arranged mix of lollo rosso curls, sharp spikes of carrot, raw mushroom slices, toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds and a tangy dressing involving Balsamic vinegar.
My carnivorous companion selected a vegetable quiche (Ft1,500) from the daily specials chalked up on the blackboard by our side.
This appeared as an individual baby quiche, served upside down with a light, fluffy, cheesy egg and vegetable blend inside an unusual almost cakey-spongey pastry crust.
The wine list contained a good selection of quality reds and whites.Leora advised on the best wine - an Etyek Sauvignon (Ft2,590) to accompany the selected dishes.We sipped from huge four-deci red wine goblets balancing on elegant thin stems.
For her main course, my companion selected veal in a sun-dried tomato and coriander sauce (Ft2,350). The tomatoes were full of flavour and she remarked on how delicious and tender the meat was.
This was served with three ice-cream scoops of excellent mashed potatoes, dense and comforting with a liberal swathe of Dijon mustard whirling through.
I tried a fascinating salmon filet in a piquant coconut cream sauce and vodka lemon risotto (Ft2,850). I had never imagined salmon with coconut, but it worked extremely well.The risotto was perfection, served in wafer-thin courgette tubes.
The vodka was not immediately apparent but added a hot after-taste.Leora’s partner David Seboek is a trained pastry chef from New York so we just had to try the desserts, listed on a separate menu.
The chocolate volcano (Ft900) is something of a favourite at Baraka and I can see why.
Another upside-down casing of chocolate sponge lets out a thick, gooey lava when attacked viciously with a spoon. Scoops of vanilla ice cream cool the passions down a little and the dish is covered with grated Sumac, a dried berry spice from the Middle East with a lemony tang.
My companion demolished the cranberry, almond and caramel tart (Ft850) in record time, only slowed by the fact that she hit the jackpot and actually got two puddings; a divine snail of lemon meringue pie appeared first and then received a second, bonus dessert when the mistake was noticed by our ever-attentive but never-intrusive host.Baraka is a Sufi word meaning 'breath' or 'essence of life'. Eating food prepared with care, attention, love, imagination and inspiration is one of the pleasures of existence, and Baraka has found the key.
Budapest - District VI (1063)
Andrássy út 111
Getting there: Metro 1(little underground - kis földalatti) to Bajza utca
Tel: (+36 1) 483-1355
Open daily noon-3pm & Mon-Sat 6pm-11pm
Wine List 9/10
The Bees' Knees 10/10
POZOR! Baraka is the first - and I can confidently predict - the only Budapest restaurant to receive a Bees' Knees 10/10 rating.
Restaurants of Baraka's calibre appear in Central Europe with the frequency of Haley's Comet, so I recommend a visit to Budapest includes this venue - or regret it forever...