Elegant decadence – that’s the memory that comes flooding back every time I reminisce about the 6 course lunch that I experienced at Onyx, Budapest in the winter of 2016.
The menu was creative, the presentation, gorgeous; the hospitality – hushed yet welcoming and the wine pairing, absolutely exquisite!
Located on Vörösmarty Square in the heart of Budapest, the Onyx Restaurant, opened its doors in April 2007 and received one Michelin Star in 2011. In October 2016, Onyx crafted a new menu under the direction of its new chef Ádám Mészáros, sous-chef András Pető and Gerbeaud Head chef Ágnes Tóth. The goal that the team set out to achieve was to marry tradition with innovation and the menu justly reflects it.
Th neo-baroque interior of Onyx at first glance, feels a bit overwhelming when you walk in but soon starts to make sense as the food starts to come out.
Our experience was kicked off with a large basket of bread with a diverse array of butters. The textures and flavours were all different and all very good. It signaled a good meal ahead. The amuse bouche looked dainty but were bold in flavour.
The first course in our degustation menu was a black salsify, beetroot, parsley dish that looked like a garden on a plate and tasted like spring. The dish was light and the flavours bright. If I remember correctly, the little dish was dressed with tomato water with parsley puree. Every flavour was distinct but came together to create a united dish.
The second course was a water buffalo tartar with garlic panna cotta and rice crisps. The garlic panna cotta had the perfect texture, the taste of garlic was subtle but not overpowering and was well matched with lemon charcoal that was dusted on top.
The third course stayed with me, perhaps, as the best example of umami. The dish was a trout roll with forest mushrooms and sabayon. The plate was a riot of flavours! There were pickled mushrooms, grilled mushrooms, mushroom bits that were as unctuous as bacon and the sabayon transported me into a word of bliss.
Each course so far was not only well thought out but also well timed. The servers took their time in explaining the dishes as well as answering all our questions. The wine pairing which my friend (photograph attached) opted for was (clearly) spectacular. The trout was paired, surprisingly, with a red wine that went beautifully with the fish and elevated the earthiness of the mushrooms.
The fourth course was their homage to the Hungarian goulash and it did not disappoint. Not only is goulash a popular Hungarian dish, it is also a symbol of the nation. Steeped in history, to reinterpret this iconic dish took courage from the team and it was a shining example of how they managed to bring in modern nuances to an old, traditional recipe. The consommé had a shiny-stout colour, was luscious in texture, crystal clear with a pronounced dash of paprika over a lovely beef ravioli garnished with a crisp potato chip. Simple and stunning at the same time!
The main course was venison combined with celery and apple. The dish was garnished with smoked walnuts and an apple cider sauce. I’m not a big fan of celery but the dish was well balanced and I quite enjoyed it.
Finally, the dessert. Oh, the dessert! If I were a sinking ship, this dessert is what I’d like to sink into for the rest of my life. The dessert was a caramel ice cream with fruits, a zingy yuzu sauce speckled with bay leaf oil and pecan powder. This was a stunner! It did all kinds of things to my brain with its combination of sweet and sour. Bay leaf is used a lot in Indian cooking but mostly for savory dishes. When the dessert was placed on the table, it took me back home to my mom’s pulav (a rice dish with vegetables & spices) that I loved growing up. To have that memory stoked by a plate of ice cream was an incredible feeling. Thank you, Onyx for this thrilling little plate of food.
After dessert was the turn of the petite fours for us to select from and what a beautiful finish it was!
The entire experience was the right kind of indulgent and I would highly recommend for anyone visiting Budapest to definitely make a reservation and eat their way through this little Hungarian adventure.