After returning from a trip to Budapest this week, my friend said to me:  “Budapest is a place I never think of people going for holiday, yet it’s a city I hear so much about.”

I admit, Budapest had a mysterious intrigue to me.  Having never travelled to central or eastern Europe, I was eager to experience and ingest a new culture unlike anything I had known before. Like my friend, I had heard about Budapest, but didn’t have any concrete expectations beyond what I hoped would be a color-filled, unique city.

Driving in a taxi from the airport to my hotel, I was too busy chatting away with my sister, who I hadn’t seen in months, to take in the city!  However, what I could see was, to be blunt, slightly disappointing.  Budapest was not the vibrant city I was hoping for, rather it seemed a tired, worn city showing fatigue from the regimes of communism.

It only took a day of walking the city to prove me wrong.  I don’t hesitate in saying the effects of communism can still be seen in small ways, such as the Hungarian flags which fly throughout the city with wholes in the center where the communist insignia once flew, but there is much more to this city than it’s past.

The Danube cuts the city into what is known as the classy, residential Buda side and the trendy Pest side.  Both sides exude art, culture and architecture and while most of the restaurants, cafes and shops are on the Pest side, I was easily wooed to the Buda side by one amazing restaurant….

If anyone travels to Budapest I beg of you to partake in Baldaszti’s divine cooking.  You won’t be sorry!  Set on a quite street below Budapest’s castle, this restaurant is neighbor to a cute clothing boutique, gourmet market and elegant wine store.  What more do you need?!

When walking into Baldaszti’s Kitchen it looked like an adorable cafe, but only after siting down to order, did I notice all the small touches which added to the magnificent ambiance.  Tables were set with vintage green sundae glasses and personalized paper place mats, similar to Cake Vintage’s.  A chalk board painted wall displayed the enticing menu, while painted wallpaper covered other walls and open shelving displayed crisp white dinnerware.

I caught myself taking mental notes of detail after detail to keep in store for my dream home.   Yet, it wasn’t just the ambiance that stole my affection, the food was worthy of equal praise.  I took the waiter’s recommendation and ordered a meal I would never normally be tempted by, a traditional but modernized Hungarian dish of savory chicken pancakes, “hortobagyi” style.  A simple yet elegant presentation with creme fresh and fresh cilantro made them to die for!

What’s even better was going with three others and having the pleasure of sampling more culinary masterpieces by Baldaszti’s Kitchen such as the ewe-cheese risotto, layered Savoy cabbage and egg dumplings.  What’s even better is that these gourmet, tapas style dishes were only 4 Euros!!

Now, it’s no secret I have a sweet-tooth and so I couldn’t leave without a taste of dessert.  Once again, I took the waiter’s recommendation and had a Hungarian trifle and cappuccino.  Both were absolutely perfect and the icing on the cake!

Sitting in my kitchen in England after a failed culinary attempt at dinner, I can’t help but contemplate how to justify a plane ticket to Budapest for another Baldaszti’s meal.  I say well worth it! ….Stepheny


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