Budapest was very much in need of a peaceful place that, as an island of tranquillity in the bustling city, makes you stop for a moment to enjoy its lighthearted ambience, along with the clean food they serve. HILDA situated in a historic building in downtown Budapest is a one-of-a-kind French-styled bistro that is conscious about all the ingredients they use to prepare their classy courses, bringing laid-back elegance, simplicity and excellence in the culinary scene of the Hungarian capital.
Entering HILDA on a usual Tuesday afternoon, I immediately found myself in a secluded oasis full of lush greenery that matched harmoniously with the mellow citrus tones of the walls, the velvet draperies of dark blue colours, and the telling mural on the wall, displaying a woman carrying a silver tray with a whole grilled chicken on it.
As I sat down in a fancy-looking chair, I was enlightened by the owner and manager of HILDA who loves to join the staff and serve the guests herself that sustainability played a significant role in compiling the menu. They put special emphasis on organic ingredients and try to support the local farmers by utilizing as many of their products as they can, heeding high quality at the same time. As the quality of the meat is especially important to the restaurant, they cook exclusively with free-range eggs and poultry. However, they also serve vegetarian, lactose-free and gluten-free meals so that everyone can enjoy this culinary journey into clean eating.
Tastes of the Season
Both the recently introduced lunch and evening menu of HILDA offers uncomplicated courses that are composed of fresh, seasonal ingredients – one of them is potato soup which I ordered as first course. While the waiter put down a steep white plate with cooked vegetables and slivers of Mangalica sausage in it, pouring the creamy potato soup of rich orange colour on top, I couldn’t stop thinking about autumn leaves floating in the air and laying on the ground. It was a typical Hungarian dish that you want your foreign friends to sample, presenting the luscious tastes of our nation with a pinch of hotness.
Organic garden salad came next with Remoulade sauce (a mayonnaise-based French sauce with chopped pickles) and poultry croquettes – the latter may be familiar from the tapas bars of Spain. Revealing the pure joy of freshness this course is made up of seasonal greens and serves as a substitution for the classic Caesar salad of which ingredients can’t be got hold of without additives at this time of the year.
My companion chose grilled Manouri cheese, which is an import product from Greece made from goat or sheep milk, served with green salad and seeds on top. It looked so mouth-watering that I had to have some. As it was coloured pink from the caramelized red onion and tasted just like heaven, it may as well be referred to as a potion for love.
After tasting all these succulent appetizers, we were more than ready to savour HILDA’s signature meal, the Rotisserie chicken. With this cooking method, we were told that the meat is thought to be juicier, slow roasted and self-basted – the hearsay was proven to be true. The meat is so tender that it melts in your mouth, evenly flavorous. As a side dish, one can choose from mixed green salad, seasonal cooked vegetables, creamy layered fingerling potatoes and what we decided to order, spinach with garlic. The forest green sauce was in perfect harmony with the flavours of the grilled chicken.
Even though we were already full with all the fresh tastes we had tried, we were determined to complete our menu with “Máglyarakás”. It is often referred to as a Hungarian bread pudding; however, in HILDA it is made with brioche. The apple-pear meringue layered cake was served in a lovely little ceramics cup and tasted exactly the same, sweet and luscious. It was the happy ending of our culinary journey in Nádor Street.