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Close to perfect dishes but over-caring service: Restaurant Costes (14. December 2016)

| January 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

The ‘Costes’ is the first Hungarian restaurant which has received a Michelin star in 2010. And they managed to keep it throughout the entire time – and I must admit, for a reason. It wasn’t entirely intuitive to me as I think there are a couple of things one could do better but overall, it is well deserved.

Luckily, I was able to book a table the same day – which was already quite surprising to me. Once you’re seated, the sommelier is the first to welcome you and to suggest you an aperitif. I went for a glass of a local sparkling wine, the “Garamvari, 2008” which was relatively dry and tasty.

After having selected your drink, the menu is brought to you. And the concept is a bit different to what I am used to when it comes to ‘Tasting Menus’. Basically, you chose if you want five, six, or seven courses. After you’ve made that choice, you pick what you actually want to eat. So, the ‘tasting menu’ is one which you assemble yourself (within limits) and not one which is prepared and pre-picked for you. I went for the “Seven Course Menu” (37’500 HUF) plus the respective “Wine Pairing” (21’500 HUF) after I have been asked various times within five minutes if I am ready which had good intentions but was too much.

The evening then starts with a little greeting from the kitchen – a cookie with sour cream, a cornet, and a sausage with mustard. The small dishes were perfect to et your palate started.

Now, usually I would say that bread is not outstanding – and while it was definitely great, the bread itself was not outstanding. But what you can see in the next picture actually was …

… they served five different types of butter: regular, bell pepper, basil, black olives, and the last one was not really butter but ‘duck fat’. I tried them all and with the exception of the bell pepper (relatively boring), they were all outstanding.

As an amuse bouche, the kitchen served “pork jelly with radish and horseradish”. And while the dish looked incredibly cool as the pork jelly was served in a tin can, I was a bit disappointed. The pork jelly did not really taste like anything. I mean, of course, if you just take jelly, it does not have much taste of its own – however, one could have definitely made more out of it. The combination of the radish with the horseradish on the other side was actually great.

The first course of the evening was a “duck liver, Tokaji Aszú marinated, cranberry, sea buckthorn” served with a glass of “Gemini Rosé, Bencze, Badacsony, 2013” (usually 5’500 HUF). The combination of the liver, the cranberry jelly, the crunchiness of the rice grains, and the sea buckthorn made it an almost perfect dish. The flavour and texture combination was outstanding – the only thing which was lacking for me was the element of true surprise.

The second course was a “raviolo (free range egg yolk, truffle)” served with a glass of “Ezerjó, Miklós Csabi, Mór, 2015” (usually, 5’800 HUF). The raviolo was definitely unusual in its appearance, i.e., not in shape you would expect a raviolo to be. However, the combination of flavours with the mushrooms was actually good – only the mushroom sauce put at the bottom of the raviolo was too intense for me and kind of dominated the dish.

The third course was a bit of a disappointment for me as it tasted rather regular – the “trout (slow cooked, roe, pumpkin)” served with a glass of “Vision Cuvée, Holdvölgy, Tokaj, 2014” (usually, 10’000 HUF). The dish just didn’t have any kick whatsoever to itself. I mean, yes, you can definitely eat it but for me it lacked kind of everything.

The next one on the other hand looked absolutely gorgeous – the “pigeon (2 ways, beetroot and coffee)” served with a glass of “Steiner Blaufränkisch, Weninger, Sopron, 2012” (usually, 12’000 HUF). But it was not only gorgeous, it was actually really good. The various beet roots gave it a little bit of the extra twist, and the coffee lightly applied on top of all added yet another special note. However, the pigeon was a bit too chewy for my gusto.

One of my favourite courses was the “beef (Jerusalem artichoke, blueberry, green walnut)” served with a glass of “Cabernet Franc Selection, Iványi Zsófi, Villányn, 2009”. If you have a look at the picture – look at the attention to detail! This is truly impressive! Each of these little half-transparent things are looking like maple leaves. I mean, even the small ones where you could think they might be kind of tired to prepare it that way but no it is consistent throughout the whole dish. And beside the lovely eyesight, the beef is actually tasty and tender (could have a tiny bit of stronger grill flavours) and goes very well with the walnut and the blueberry.

With regards to the “cheese selection” (usually, HUF 5’500) served with a glass of “Zweigelt, Kristinus, Kéthely, 2011”, I had definitely expected more. I mean, it looks lovely! Especially the jellies in the form of a jigsaw puzzle, respectively puzzle pieces. However, the selection of cheeses was rather dull for a Michelin starred restaurant. The first one was a Hungarian one served with a fig jelly, the second one was served with a ‘white grape jelly’, the third one Manchego with a ‘mandarin jelly’, and the last one ‘sweet gorgonzola’ served with ‘black current jelly’. All good, also the combination with the jellies, but it just lacked originality for my personal gusto.

The last course though was extraordinary again. The “Citrus (lemon, lime, kumquat, gingerbread)” served with a glass of “Furmint, Barta Pince, Tokaj, 2010” (usually, 5’800 HUF) made me a bit suspicious when I had looked at it. As it looked like a lemon – a nicely shaped lemon. The outside was basically made of lemon-tasting sugar and the inside contained lemon and lime cream, a sorbet, and gingerbread pieces. The combination was excellent. Hard (the sugar), soft (the cream), cold and sweet (the sorbet), and last but not least a crumbly consistency (the gingerbread). Exquisite!

To finalize the dinner, some “Petite Fours” were served. A little ‘moon’, some chocolate and ‘kisses from the chef”. A nice ending to an overall great dinner. The pairing of the wines fit on average very well with the dishes and the service was super attentive. Anita, Joel, and Benjamin did a great job. For my personal gusto though, one of them was sometimes a bit overly motivated, i.e. if you ask me in a frequency if everything is okay so I get annoyed, then it is definitely too much. Else, nothing to complain about the service!

The atmosphere of the place is quite nice – it is super modern, super organized, one could even say a bit sterile but the brigade of waiters and waitresses compensates for that. The price is steep for Hungarian standards but quite okay for central European ones. The double espresso accounts for 1’500 HUF and a 0,75l water bottle for 1’600 HUF.

Overall, I get why the Costes has a Michelin star – the dishes are very good (some of them exquisite; some with room for improvement). The service is close to perfect but a tiny bit overcaring for my taste – and the price is fair for what you get (especially considering the generous wine pairing). Just make sure to book a table in advance as else you probably won’t stand a chance to get a seat – at least the walk-in didn’t.


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Contact Details:

Restaurant Costes

Ráday u. 4

1092 Budapest (HU)

Tel.: +36 1 219 0696

E-Mail: info@costes.hu

Homepage: http://www.costes.hu

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.
71'344 HUF (incl. tip) Filed in: Budapest (HU), Restaurants

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