It was a cold and rainy night in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest, Hungary. This is one of the city’s most vibrant, lively, and historic neighborhoods. Though it was a Friday night, the streets were deserted as most people had retreated indoors to restaurants or bars to escape the harsh weather. After enjoying a few drinks at one of the nearby ruin pubs, I decided it was time to find dinner.
I had no plans or made any reservations this night, which was unusual for me. I always plan ahead and do research, but not this night. As it was getting late, I walked aimlessly from restaurant to restaurant, hoping to find an open table.
However, I grew disheartened as I was unable to find any restaurant with availability. As I walked around in circles, I noticed a brightly lit restaurant with a few open tables. I decided to take a chance on this place without researching it or reading any reviews. I had stumbled upon Barack & Szilva Étterem.
Barack & Szilva Étterem is a Hungarian restaurant located in the heart of the historic Jewish Quarter in Budapest, Hungary. The restaurant is popular for their menu featuring both modern and traditional Hungarian dishes, as well as dishes inspired by French, Italian, and Jewish cuisine.
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On my visit, it was a cold and rainy night. As soon as I entered, I was struck by the bright and open atmosphere of the place. Despite the dreary weather outside, the restaurant was warm and cozy, making it an inviting and welcoming place to escape the rain.
The atmosphere inside was lively and boisterous, with the small dining room filled with the voices of diners and the kitchen staff working in the open kitchen. Adding to the ambiance was a musician playing his guitar by the front door. The combination of music and lively conversation made me excited to try the food.
The décor of the space was a perfect blend of rustic and modern elements with wooden tables and floors, distressed concrete walls, and brick pillars. Even at night, the space felt open and bright thanks to tall ceilings and hanging lights. The homey décor, along with the open kitchen, made me feel as if I was in someone’s home.
As soon as I sat down, a friendly server brought out a basket of complimentary bread and herb butter. While simple, the bread was still warm while the butter was soft, creamy, and flavorful. This was a great start to the meal.
Sautéed Foie Gras
Although I don’t often eat Sautéed Foie Gras (5800 Ft or about $15.99), when I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to order it. This luxurious and flavorful dish, consisting of duck liver, lamb’s lettuce, toasted hazelnuts, grapes, and a Tokaji wine vinaigrette, was too tempting to pass up. And, when I saw the colorful plate placed in front of me, I knew I had made the right choice.
The star of the dish, the foie gras, was as fatty and rich as always. The melt-in-your-mouth texture was divine, almost indescribable if you have never had it before. My only critique of the foie gras was that I wished it had a harder sear for added texture.
Under the foie gras was a bed of lamb’s lettuce, also known as cornsalad or mâche. This leafy green vegetable, native to Europe, reminded me of spinach. It had small, tender, and buttery leaves that had a delicate nutty flavor. The spinach was lightly coated in a Tokaji wine vinaigrette which was both sweet and tart but never overpowering.
Mixed in were toasted hazelnuts, grapes, and cherry tomatoes. Each ingredient was simple on its own, but all played an important role in complementing the rich and fatty foie gras. The grapes added a touch of sweetness, the cherry tomatoes added a hint of tartness, and the toasted hazelnuts added a crunchy, nutty flavor.
All of these ingredients were crucial in the success of this dish. And, in the end, the combination of textures and flavors made this dish truly great.
For the main course, I went for the Paprika Chicken (5800 Ft or about $15.99) made with homemade spaetzle (dumplings). Paprika chicken, also known as chicken paprikash or paprikás csirke, is a popular traditional Hungarian dish of chicken simmered in a sauce of paprika and sour cream. This was one of the most beautifully plated dishes I had on my entire two week trip to Eastern Europe.
The first thing that caught my attention was the bright color of the sauce, a mixture of red and orange. Its flavor was as bright and bold as its color. It was a little smoky, a little sweet, a little rich, a little oily, and a little creamy from the sour cream. I found its texture to be thick like a gravy, but not too thick.
Hidden under the sauce was a boneless chicken breast with the drumette attached. I believe this is called airline or statler chicken. The chicken was tender and moist, almost to the point where it wanted to shred, but it still maintained its texture.
What I enjoyed about the chicken was how I could taste all the flavors of the meat without any of the seasonings or sauces overpowering its flavor. More so, I thought the paprika sauce complemented and enhanced the texture and flavor of the chicken.
Served along with the chicken was a generous portion of homemade spaetzle covered in chopped parsley. Spaetzle, a type of dumpling made with eggs, is common in Hungary. The spaetzle were tender, spongy, and creamy in texture with a fresh and delicious flavor that could only have resulted from being handmade.
I also enjoyed the combination of the spaetzle and the rich, smoky sauce. While simple, the care and attention put into making these dumplings was evident in every bite.
Service in Eastern Europe can often be slow and indifferent, but that was not the case at Barack & Szilva Étterem. The service here was on point and very attentive, with our server taking and giving out plates and cutlery with each course.
He also made sure to clean up quickly after each course. Despite being a busy night, and without a reservation, I appreciated the attention of the staff and servers given to each guest.
I am glad I stumbled upon Barack & Szilva Étterem, a Hungarian restaurant located in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. On a cold and rainy night, the cozy and warm dining room, along with its lively atmosphere, was the perfect choice for me.
While not the most affordable option in Budapest, the restaurant stood out from the rest with its bright and bold flavors. And, the service was fantastic with a keen attention to detail. While there are many great dining options in Budapest, I would not hesitate to return to Barack & Szilva Étterem.
- Beautiful dishes
- Wonderful décor and ambiance
- Attentive staff
- Reservations often required
- Expensive when compared to other restaurants in Budapest
Budapest, Klauzal u. 13, 1072 Hungary
Last Updated on February 11, 2024