Looking out of the window from the elegantly lit-up interior in Robinson Restaurant Budapest during the winter months, you will see City Park Lake in a whole new light: with white mist of minute water droplets overhead. The lake house that glimmers in the midst of this mysterious scenery has been standing on the shore for more than thirty years now, representing timeless flavours under the leadership of restaurateur Árpád László.
Both foreigners and locals like to frequent the restaurant to get immersed in the beautiful panorama overlooking the second biggest public park in Budapest, and most of the time they don’t even know that there is one thing that outshines the environment: the gastronomy of Robinson. Led by chef Dávid Kugyela, the devoted team of cooks is eager to provide guests with well-designed, perfectly made courses and a wide spectrum of flavours. In January we were invited to encounter the Robinson dining experience first-hand.
The chef put together two different menus for us so that we could have a more complex picture of the á la carte dishes everyone chooses from when there. Many say that starters are of great importance as they set the tone for the whole culinary journey: the courses we faced first established a pretty optimistic mood. First up, duck liver pâté came our way, a classic course of meal that is well-liked worldwide. On the side, golden beet marinated in a cider vinegar reduction sauce made with coriander and star anise, hazelnut crumbs and Turkish honey, mandarin jelly and homemade brioche harmonized perfectly with the melt in your mouth creamy pâté.
We were not even over this exciting fusion of tastes when another extraordinary starter arrived: ahi tuna steak with daikon and mango. A pure delight from Asia, it was topped with crispy daikon, which reminded me of glass noodles, toasted sesame seeds, lemon oil, coriander seeds and leaves, and sprinkled with a special Asian sauce made of soy sauce, cider vinegar, mirin and the seven-flavour Japanese spice mixture, shichimi togorashi. The flavour harmony was made complete with the freshness of the mangos served on the side.
We continued our gastronomic journey with venison steak, pumpkin puree with lemon oil, Brussels sprouts leaves with pine needle vinegar, sautéed red cabbage with cherry vinegar and herbs – it was exactly as lavish as you would expect.
I couldn’t imagine a more playful way of representing textures in gastronomy, but the ne plus ultra of all the magnificent meals we tried that day was yet to come: pork belly confit (with the crispiest crackling I have ever tasted) with fried French blood sausages, Savoy cabbage leaves filled with a mixture of white cabbage, onion, bacon and caraway seeds, and apple mustard, aka apple puree with sweet violet mustard, a combination of Dijon mustard and red grape must. The crispiness of the pork together with the flavour of the sausages much milder than the ones we eat in Hungary was a match made in heaven. Surprising as it is, the cabbage and the apple puree were not too distinguishing to steal the spotlight from the meats.
Finally, two light as a feather desserts arrived. One was more heavenly looking than the other: cherry-flavoured puree, sorbet and jelly were added to the chestnut tart complete with spicy whipped cream, whereas the airy chocolate mousse was sided with yogurt ice cream, passion fruit meringue, beet jelly with elderberry, and sponge cake. They were the happy ending to our first-hand dining experience at Robinson Restaurant Budapest as there’s no way we could have left more satisfied.
1146 Budapest, Városligeti-tó (City Park Lake)
+3630 663 6871