Not long ago we got the chance to test Hungary’s very first Michelin-star winner, the alpha and omega of world-class gastronomy: Costes. It was opened in 2008 and has been maintaining its status since 2010, when the famous Michelin Guide honored the restaurant with the prestigious award.
High quality, perfect customer experience, and artistically served meals are extremely important here, and head chef Eszter Palágyi managed to create a menu which focuses on promoting merely Hungarian cuisine. The atmosphere is rather elegant, so, prior to our visit, we made sure to follow the dress code and dolled up for the occasion. We were overwhelmed by the special treatment that made us feel like world famous celebrities, if not royalty. We took a seat at one of the cozy booths right next to the bar area, surrounded by gorgeous sunflowers that brightened up the dark brown, wooden-looking walls with their vivid color.
We decided to order a 4-course meal, and started out our dinner with a delicious cold drink. We chose to rely on our highly skilled waitress’s recommendation, who picked a true Hungarian aperitif, Costes’ signature cocktail called “sloe motion” (prepared with sloe palinka) for us. Its fancy cocktail glass reminded us to our best chemistry classes. This drink was pure magic, making steam come off of it after serving. We aren’t going to lie: it was strong at first, but got really pleasant by the time we finished it, because the best part, the sweet cherry taste was left for the final sips. After the amazing “welcome bites” we got to know Costes’ awesome amuse, goulash soup served in little metal cauldron, to get our stomach prepared for the Hungarian-inspired dinner.
After the two pre-starters came another surprise: delicious, rose-formed butter (organic, garlic, and duck grease), and fresh bakery products, all so good it was kind of addictive. Being afraid of ruining our appetite before the evening’s protagonists would arrive, we pushed the tasty bites aside to give more room for the starters
First came duck liver (coming from the Kunság region) marinated in Tokaj wine, with cucumber, granny smith apple and homemade brioche on the plate, then Lillafüred trout with tender Hungarian green split pea, beans, savory and caviar, served in a unique gray plate resembling a UFO spaceship
We wanted to try another signature dish, so instead of a main course, we opted for a pre-main course and ordered the famous wild pigeon which has been on the menu since the opening of the restaurant. The creatively placed pigeon pieces all had a distinct flavor on their own, and together with the exciting taste of beetroot salad and Ethiopian coffee crumbs, their character became even more emphasized.
You can’t tell someone with a sweet tooth to skip the dessert once they are full, right? Especially when such dreamy creations may land on your plate as Costes’ Hungarian “Paris-brest”. It was the reimagined version of the much more traditional cream bun; this time with black cherry, lavender and black tea, served in a handmade crystal sugar balloon, making our exclusive dinner (and the whole Michelin-star experience) end on the best possible note.