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Good lunch deal but doesn’t make you feel comfortable: ZONA Budapest (15. December 2016)

| January 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

The ZONA used to be among the best restaurants in Budapest – I was told. But also, I was informed that the chef has changed twice in the last year. And I don’t know if that is also true for the rest of the staff but it was definitely the place I felt least welcome of all the restaurants I have visited in Budapest.

The interior of the place is very nice as it is modern, spacious, a relaxed atmosphere. However, when you walk in and are brought to your table, they are merely pointing at the chair and that’s it (well, they help you with your jacked and you can hand it over to them for storage).

Despite the first not so perfect impression, I decided to have the “Tasting Menu” (14’000 HUF) which seemed quite unusual – at least it didn’t feel like anybody had expected someone to pick the tasting menu for lunch. However, the menu started with an amuse bouche (which was not explained) basically being ham and salad with an admittedly great olive oil

The first course was a “foie gras mousse (hokkaido pumpkin, milk-loaf crumbs, Granny Smith apple)”. The first thing which popped my mind: This is huge! If you have five courses, then the foie gras mousse was definitely too big (and I’m not exactly a light eater). However, the combination with the pumpkin, the sweetness of the Granny Smith, and the milk-loaf crumbs made it a good dish. Only after a while you would feel like you definitely have had enough.

The second course was a classic of ZONA (apparently, the “ZONA, goulash, beef cheek”. The soup was rich, full of vegetables and beef and quite spicy. After the relatively smooth foie gras this was kind of like ‘wow, hot!’. However, the soup was good.

The next course was actually my favourite – the “Risotto with baby spinach, pine nuts, celery, Robiola cheese” was interesting for two reasons. First, I have actually never encountered Robiola cheese anywhere outside of Italy. Secondly, the dish was perfect in its combination – smoothness of the risotto, crunchiness of the roasted pine nuts, creaminess by the Robiola cheese and something for the chewy consistency created by the herbs and the baby spinach. Overall, a great dish.

The “wild duck leg, vanilla flavoured” was definitely on the interesting side – but also on the ‘very annoying to eat’ side. The elements are tiny and not easily to be combined together on a fork – making the whole process of eating the dish a bit cumbersome if you didn’t want to use your hands (and you don’t, given you are not offered anything which would support your way of potentially enjoying the dish by eating it by hand). The duck is very rich once you get it off the bones and the combination with the dried zucchini, etc. makes it a sound dish. The ‘potato dumplings’ on the other hand were too sweet for me and too creamy.

The last course for lunch was a “Sacher” – well, not the cake you would have expected but a re-interpreted cake in the form of a mousse, respectively various layers of mousse. While the dish was definitely it was a bit too heavy on my stomach. Secondly, if you look at the wild duck legs, they used the same elements in the dish as in this one (pink topping). While this fits taste-wise, I think it is a sign of lack of creativity if you use the same ‘decorative elements’ for both courses.

The service is not really optimal. One waiter was friendly and generally up to the task – the other one looked like he just wanted to go home (I mean, understandably so, but you don’t have to show it) and then he started speaking Italian to me – consistently – despite the fact that I only spoke English with him. A bit annoying.

When it comes to ordering the bill – it took – as sooooo many times in other restaurants – way longer than anything before. Which is something I truly do not understand – aggravated by the fact that only the ‘boss’ could do the payment with the credit card machine. I mean, why?!

However, what you get at the ZONA is definitely fine for lunch – but nothing outstanding. The price is fair, which is also true for the beverages (i.e. 1l water, 950 HUF; double espresso, 700 HUF). What I did not like so much though was the fact that at first, tap water was served (and charged with 600 HUF) and only when I asked, I got bottled water. Well, fine for me, but maybe ask first before you serve tap water and charge me for it.

And the fact that 13% are added to the bill is just a rip-off – the service definitely does not live up to the 13%. Additionally, I don’t fully grasp why they had to “round up” the bill for 2 HUF. I mean, I do not care about 2 HUF but if you really have to change something, then round ‘down’, not up!

Frankly, while the dishes are good, somehow I did not feel entirely comfortable at ZONA – but I guess the deal for lunch is quite a bargain.


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Contact Details:

Restaurant ZONA

Lánchíd Utca 7/9

1013 Budapest (HU)

Tel.: +36 30 422 59 81

E-Mail: hello@zonabudapest.com

Homepage: http://www.zonabudapest.com

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.
18'365 HUF (incl. tip) Filed in: Budapest (HU), Restaurants

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