* the New York Cafe in Budapest … three for three
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2007
“May I take a picture?”
“But you must,” says the tuxedoed headwaiter with an appreciative smile.
We are generally satisfied with two out of three when we dine: ambience, quality of food, reasonable price. The ambience is clearly extraordinary.
The New York Café originally opened in October of 1894. It was described at the time as the most beautiful café in the world, and soon became the literary center of Budapest, home to writers and journalists, and later, film people.
World War One interfered, but the café rebounded into its second life between the world wars, adding food and becoming one of the city’s most elegant restaurants. During the Second World War, the café and restaurant were closed and the building became, under Nazi rule, the most beautiful warehouse in Europe. It reopened in 1954 but suffered under Soviet rule and eventually declined to a barely recognizable shell of its former glorious self.
Two weeks before our arrival, after five years of loving restoration at the hands of the Italian Boscolo Group, the Café re-opened within the similarly restored and renamed Boscolo Hotel, a golden fantasy of marble floors, curved columns, and statues. We gazed with open mouths.
The menu featured a wide selection of foods not typical of Budapest. The promise of delicate fish and sauces. A choice of fine wines. The lobster and pasta entrée, with a light cream sauce, was exquisite. My favorite in any country, pea soup, did not disappoint, and the medallions of sole, set among lightly sautéed potatoes, was a visual as well as culinary delight. For dessert, we shared a sinful hot chocolate pastry smothered in thick chocolate sauce.
The bill, presented in Hungarian forints, translated to $80.00.
Three for three.