- 11 Jul 2019 11:01 AM
In 1994, when the restaurant celebrated its centenary, it was considered an absolute trendsetter, with Kálmán Kalla's dishes and co-owner George Lang's personal charm and presence.
Around the same time the restaurant branched out into catering, and the portfolio grew to include the Museum of Fine Arts. In the nineties many famous celebrities and heads of state visited. For Queen Elizabeth II a special menu was even created.
Even in 2019, there needs to be a place in the world of trendy restaurants where time can come to a standstill, where elegant dinnerware, a classic atmosphere, and gypsy music can welcome guests.
For the past year Executive Chef Zsolt Litauszki and his team have been working to regain Gundel's place. Along with the modernized traditional dishes, guests are offered courses prepared with twenty-first century techniques and fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Next to the entrance you'll find the Gundel boutique, which opened for the 100th anniversary, so that the iconic flavors could be taken home and enjoyed. Since then the cake and goose liver are very popular, but now as a novelty, you can even get a Gundel crepe in chocolate tablet form.
Twenty-five years ago, Gundel didn't pay for advertising. The PR team depended on a circle of news writer friends and George Lang's international connections, which helped to popularize the restaurant. Since then the media world has changed a lot, and now it gets bombarded daily by the press and the public with news and happenings.
Upkeeping tradition is still very important, which is why for one night only Kálmán Kalla was lured back to cook with Zsolt Litauszki. It turned out to be a very successful evening. Both communications professionals agree that Gundel's role as a cradle of talent hasn't changed.
Even if someone only spent a short time here, he or she most likely found his place elsewhere. If you take a look at a group photo from 25 years ago compared to one from today, you'll also see many faithful colleagues have remained at the restaurant.
The raw ingredients are also gaining notoriety, as each tried and trustworthy distributor is mentioned on the menu, while many traditional ingredients (frog legs, offal, squab, quail, marrow bones, river crab, rabbit, and carp) have also returned to the menu, explained Brand Ambassador Kálmán Kozma.
On the menu you can still find those classics, like the goose liver trio, but also some dishes like Zsolt Litauszki's nettle veloute - pictured below - with quail egg have become very popular, and a good example of the balance of tradition and innovation is the Hortobágyi dumpling.
The Gundel-style pike-perch fillet has been prepared without a bread coating and cheese sauce since the days of Kálmán Kalla. The chicken paprikash is now served in two ways to guests. First it arrives as a conserve (assembled with concentrated jus, gizzards, heart, whipped egg, and parsley), and then the classic sauced chicken with spaetzle.
The menu changes about four or five times per year, and at the most it features 25 dishes, whereas the degustation menus feature seven courses, and are available in vegetarian, meat, or fish versions.
During the weekdays at noon, there is a three-course business lunch menu, and on Sundays at noon the restaurant doesn't just offer any brunch but one with unlimited sparkling wine awaits guests.
This year, too, the restaurant's banquet events blended tradition with innovation—just like at this HoReCa meetup. Here the sandwich servers offered hot dogs from wooden boards, and from little carts, they gave out strawberry ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen and packaged in wax paper.
Guests also tasted goose liver and dried peaches wrapped in cotton candy, Caesar salad in cups, cold soups in test tubes, tabbouleh made with tarhonya (a small Hungarian pasta), catfish and chips, macarons hung on coat hangers, and the essential Gundel crepe, of which this was the fifth version.
Click here to visit Gundel Restaurant online
1146 Budapest, Gundel K. út 4.
Phone number:+36 1 889 8111