Friday, October 7, 2016

Gundel: Gourmet Hungarian Cuisine in Budapest





Gundel has been a symbol of culinary art and refined hospitality for more than 100 years. Located in Budapest’s beautiful Varosliget City Park not far from Heroes Square, the elegant restaurant was founded by Ferenc Wampetics in 1894. A meeting place for artists, writers and members of the social elite, the restaurant entered another phase of its fame when Károly Gundel took over in 1910. Combining French culinary art, and Hungarian cuisine, Gundel’s dishes achieved international fame, serving guests from from Archduke Otto of Austria and Queen Elizabeth II to Placido Domingo and even Pope John Paul II. The ingenious Károly had an intuitive knack for bringing the best out of Hungarian cuisine by combining its original, unbridled flavours with the refined approach of French cuisine and applying modern gastronomic technology. His pioneering work placed Hungary on the world map of gastronomy. The New York Times wrote that the Gundel Restaurant did more for Hungary’s reputation than a shipload of tourist brochures. Today, Hungarian Chef Gábor Merczi continues the traditional Gundel old-world recipes today, but are now made somewhat lighter in view of today’s need to offer healthier food choices, serenaded by Roma music in the evenings with paintings of 19th and 20th-century Hungarian masters adorning the walls. More than 100 years from its foundation, Gundel restaurant still awaits its guests at the same place and under the same name, offering outstanding quality services in true style following the philosophy of Károly Gundel. Gundel can rightly be considered the grand dame of the top restaurants in Budapest, and the experience here is as traditional and refined as it comes. Not much has changed in the ensuing years: if you’re seeking a restaurant where you can dine like a Hapsburg, this is certainly the address.




Gundel chef Gábor Merczi

Gundel's Hungarian-inspied menu

The elegant interior of Gundel

A bottle of Gundel Prestige Brut to celebrate our last night in Budapest

Dad being poured a little bubbly

A glass of Gundel Hungarian Prestige Brut

The Gundel six-piece house band

Amuse-bouche of Goat Cheese Mousse with Hungarian Ratatouille

Atlantic Salmon Trio of Marinated Salmon, Salmon Tartare and Gundel Salmon Caviar

Hungarian Fisherman’s Soup à la John Gundel

Cherrywood-smoked Goose Liver Foie Gras with home-made Plum Jam

Savoury Pancake á la Grassalkovich
stuffed with Hungarian Ratatouille served with grilled Goose Liver

White Asparagus with Sauce Hollandaise

Gyula Horvath, lead violinist of Gundel's in-house band, 
serenading us before our entrées were served

2009 Nemeth Gabor Cabernet Sauvignon from Szekszard

Chicken Supreme Kalla Style with Egg Dumplings with Ewe-Cheese 
and creamy Paprika Sauce

Tenderloin of Beef Franz Liszt Style
with Grilled Goose Liver, Forest Mushroom Sauce and buttered Vegetables

King Prawns with Garlic and Arugula Salad with a Bernaise-Meat Glaze Sauce

Truffled Ravioli with Bitter Leaves in White Sauce

Medallions of Tenderloin of Veal with Hungarian Ratatouille Gundel Style













Gundel's walnut-filled pancakes with chocolate sauce
Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy of Gundel's

This delicious and decadent dessert is made from a very old pancake recipe that comes from a famous restaurant in Budapest, now more than a century old, called Gundel's. The original owner, Karoly Gundel, created this pancake filled with walnuts, raisins, lemon rind and rum; it was flambeed at the table and served with warm chocolate sauce.

Chocolate sauce:

3 tbsp Dutch cocoa
3 tbsp sugar
3 yolks
200ml milk
100ml cream
125g dark chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp dark rum or brandy
60g butter to finish cooking pancakes

Pancakes:

3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
50g butter

Filling:

125g walnuts
60g raisins
60g sugar
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 tbsp dark rum or brandy


For the chocolate sauce, beat the cocoa, sugar and yolks together. Bring the milk and cream to the boil and pour over the yolk mixture, whisking. Return to the heat and cook gently, stirring, until the custard thickens. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and rum, stirring until combined. Keep sauce warm while you cook the pancakes.


For the pancakes, whisk the eggs and milk into the flour until you have a smooth batter, then let stand for 10 minutes. The consistency should be like pouring cream, so you may need to add a touch more milk.


Heat a frying pan, then add a knob of butter and move it around so that it covers the pan. When the butter is foaming, pour in a ladleful of batter, moving the pan around so that the batter covers the whole bottom. Cook over a medium-high heat until the pancake is golden brown underneath. Turn it with a spatula, cook the other side then transfer to a plate. Continue with the rest of the batter and set aside.


For the filling, finely chop the walnuts and the raisins, then combine with the sugar, zest and rum. Place a spoonful of the filling in each pancake and fold into four so that they look like triangles. Repeat with the remaining pancakes.


Heat a large frying pan with the butter and add the filled pancakes, frying gently to warm them through, cooking on both sides. Traditionally, Gundel sprinkled the pancakes with rum and flamed them at the table before being finished with the chocolate sauce. However, if flaming makes you a little nervous, sprinkle a little extra rum over the pancakes and serve them straight away with the chocolate sauce poured over the top.