At the recently-opened Aria Hotel Budapest, not only does five star accommodation await, but so does a top-notch dining experience. At their signature Stradivari Restaurant, Chef Gabor Ferencz has created an elegant menu showcasing the classic flavours Hungarian cuisine is known for, in a fresh and contemporary way. The restaurant is intimate and makes a great venue for lunch meetings or a one-on-one rendezvous, purely due to its small and private setting, sectioned off from the main lobby of the hotel. The design centres around that beautiful string instrument, the violin, which makes perfect sense when you realise that the hotel has a music theme. But where the contemporary piano and its “key tiles” are the highlight and focus in the lobby’s ‘Music Garden’, at Stradivari, it is all about the food.
Across three courses I sampled some beautiful dishes and a great glass of clean and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. To start, the Buttersquash Velouté. Very subtle flavours came through here, secondary to the creamy and velvety texture of the soup, staying true to the French origins of the dish. My companion opted for the Duck Consommé for entrée, and I must admit I had a little food envy here, and tend to think this would be the more impressive choice to begin your meal at Stradivari.
For main, I chose the Pikeperch with mushrooms, whipped cream ragout, tomatoes, green peppers and parsley potatoes. Fish is a less common choice on the menu when in Hungary, a country renowned for its stodgy meat and potatoes, which every chef in Budapest seems to cook so well its like it is second nature. For this reason precisely I thought the Pikeperch to be a good test, as well as a refreshing change from red meat and poultry. Coming from Australia, where seafood tends to be a specialty and is usually cooked extremely well, I went into the tasting with high expectations and was a little disappointed with the fish served up on this occasion. The flavours in the dish itself were tasty and enjoyable, but unfortunately the fish was rather dry.
The highlight of the meal for me was the dessert. Not only was the plating superb, an absolute work of art, the two dishes I sampled were also delicious and generously-sized. The Esterházy walnut cake is a delicate dessert that is a good option if you’re after something that isn’t heavy following on from your main course. The traditional Hungarian cake is well worth a try and this dessert was my favourite of the two. The chilli chocolate cake is just what you would expect, and melts in the mouth. It’s not for everyone though, given chill chocolate itself tends to be polarising and you either love it or hate it. The chilli in this dish is especially strong, but being a fan of heat in dishes this didn’t bother me. The chocolate cake was more like a torte than a cake, with a rich, thick and creamy centre that isn’t for the faint hearted! The presentation of the dish was outstanding and believe me, one of these is enough for two.
Dining at Stradivari was a true pleasure, and if you happen to find yourself in Budapest in need of a satisfying meal in five-star surroundings, look no further than Stradivari at Aria Hotel. As well as a lovely meal, you will also be eating fresh ingredients that have been sourced from local farmers and artisan makers who take pride in their produce. Bon appétit!