This place opened about a year ago and is the sister restaurant to Costes, under the same executive chef Miguel Rocha Vieira, but on site under the direction of Portuguese Sous Chef Tiago Sabarigo. Both have a one star Michelin rating. Attached to the Prestige Hotel, it’s supposed to be a more casual atmosphere, which it is, billing it as “international cuisine with a Hungarian influence”. It has an open kitchen and a chef’s table for “serious culinary fans.” One guess where we sat? At the table they can accommodate up to 8 people for a 6-course tasting menu with some additional amuse bouche; there were just the 2 of us that night.
They offer wine pairings with the meal but we ordered our own bottles. We have sat at many chef tables next to or in a restaurant’s open kitchen but this was unique and I think it’s because this kitchen and chef were not used to the format. Chef Sabarigo was most gracious is greeting us and checking in after the meal, as well as watching over every plate that was sent out but then it got weird as his frustration with the staff was vented over and over. So many of these fine kitchens operate like a well oiled machine with staff proficient at their tasks or at least the critique of their skills are not carried out so openly in front of guests. Some of the kitchen people were working fast and still would get criticized for not having whatever chef wanted immediately. Others openly worked at a slow pace with a look of ‘who cares’ written all over their body. The atmosphere carried over to the servers who would get chastised if not there when he wanted things served. It was not a happy crowd which carried over to us bearing witness. Another thing was the water, which was served in cool looking but black glass, so no one but me knew when it was empty. I asked for more and the waiter had to run around trying to find out what bottle to pour from. My conclusion here is to order the tasting menu from your own table until they have more time to make a chef’s table as it should be.
We started with an amuse of fried pastry chips with a oil and lemon dipping sauce. They were thin, delicate and really crisp. Tastes of cumin, parmesan and squid ink were good accompaniments for a starting glass of sparkler. The bread service had warm loaves of white and wheat bread and butter served in the form of shavings.
The first amuse was green peas and fava beans with mint and parmesan. The peas were nice and sweet and the amount of mint was well balanced with the parmesan crisps providing a wonderful taste and texture. The mint was a nice twist on this mix. It was the first of a number of plates that all start with a swirl of flavored goo and finished with a dollop of the same goo. We watched this same preparation being put to use on most every plate that went out. The swirl and dollop will be forever imprinted on my mind from this place.
Our first course was a beet root variation – marinated and raw and served with pesto, grapes, and goat cheese. I liked the striped beets best but the only novelty of this dish was the addition of grapes which worked nicely but overall I’d call it good but not mind blowing.
Second was quail which was cooked perfectly and served with lentils, onions and spinach puree (swirl and dollop). It was a very nice course.
Third was pike perch, which again was cooked perfectly and served with artichoke steamed and pureed, black quinoa, baby bok choy and rolled up zucchini. It was a good combination of flavors.
Fourth was lamb with wild garlic purée (swirl and plop) served with white asparagus, morels and maybe ramps. Here the garlic was a bit overwhelming but the lamb was quite nice.
Fifth was carrot cake with ginger and coconut crumbles. The cream cheese was smokey which I found too strange. This one would only rate okay.
Last course was a traditional Hungarian sponge cake with rum soaked raisins and chocolate. It came out beautiful and then warm chocolate was poured over it until in collapsed into a mess of stuff in the bowl that actually tasted very good. It rates a yum in flavor but less in appearance. A few extra treats were served to finish the meal which were mixed. I surprisingly liked the pineapple marshmallow the best.