Overall rating: * * * * *
Bistro Fine is to be found on Andrássy Avenue, in central Budapest, just down the road from the famous opera house. It’s housed in the same building as Hotel Moments, a stunningly renovated four-star property. Given that it’s one of the most prestigious addresses in the city, you might expect Bistro Fine to be pretentious, but in fact, it’s anything but; the beautifully designed restaurant is welcoming and relaxing, the service attentive and professional, and the food, well, fabulous.
Bistro Fine is open from noon until 1.00am, seven days a week; we opted to visit for a late lunch on a Sunday in early summer. Offered the option of sitting inside or outside, we were spoilt for choice; enjoy the classy surroundings inside or the view and people watching opportunities outside? We settled for the latter and took our seats on the terrace overlooking Andrássy Avenue. There was a slightly cool breeze, and we were immediately asked if we would like the mobile heater near us lit. We declined, but accepted the offer of rugs, which we used later around our shoulders when the weather cooled slightly more. It was a great first impression, and the attention to detail continued throughout our visit. Wait staff (who all speak excellent English) were attentive without being overbearing; they watched discretely from a distance, ready to attend to any request, or remove or refill plates as needed.
We were offered aperitifs, however opted instead to choose wines by the glass from Bistro Fine’s innovative Enomatic system, which allows bottles to remain open for up to a month without spoiling. This allows the establishment to offer many more wines by the glass than might normally be expected; in the case of Bistro Fine, sixteen different options. Between us we sampled four, taking advantage of the recommendations provided by our waiter. Wine pairings are also suggested on the menu underneath most food items. Hungary is of course a major producer of wine, and we concentrated on the domestic varieties; the rotating wine offerings also include other European wine regions, as well as further afield; a couple of excellent Australian wines were available when we visited.
The meal began with fresh bread, butter, and a small plate of salami and ham. As appetizers we chose Salmon Tartare, served with coriander, avocado & chili, and Chili Shrimps & Chorizo, which came with smoked pepper potato and pak choi. Other appetizers offered the day of our visit included Duck Liver Pâté, Porkling Rillettes, and of course, it wouldn’t be Hungary without Goulash Soup made with fresh beef shank.
For our main courses, we selected Hungarian Pork Cheek Stew, served with egg-fried dumplings, and Filet of Dorado with Niçoise salad. While deciding whether to try a traditional dish such as the pork cheek stew, we were concerned that the consistency of the meat might be too squishy, however the waiter assured us that was not the case, and in the event he was right; it was firm yet tender, and, like the rest of the meal, outstandingly delicious. Other main dishes included Leg of Lamb, Veal, Salmon with Green Risotto, and Duck Leg Confit.
Struggling to find space for further food, we enjoyed a couple of espressos, before giving in to temptation and ordering the Mákos Guba for dessert, a Hungarian specialty of memorable deliciousness, served in a fruit jar.
Prices are extremely reasonable considering the quality and location; it’s certainly not the cheapest place to eat in Budapest, but with appetizers costing HUF 1490 – HUF 3590 (US$5 – 13, €4.50 - 12), main courses running HUF 2990 – HUF 5900 (US$11 – 21, €10 - 19) and desserts HUF 1390 – HUF 1590 (US$5 – 6, €4.50 - 5) and glasses of wine from HUF 650 (US$2.30, €2) and up, you’ll enjoy a great meal here for considerably less than a similar standard of establishment almost anywhere else in Europe.
When it was time to leave, we really didn’t want to go. Outstanding food, excellent service and a beautiful location made this a memorable afternoon, and we can’t wait to dine at Bistro Fine again next time we are in Budapest. If you’re in town, it would really be a shame to leave without enjoying lunch or dinner at this lovely spot on Andrássy Avenue.
If you fancy a glass of wine with a lighter snack, a range of tapas is available. For locals, or anyone who will be in Budapest for a few days, a chip card for the Enomatic system can be requested, which is then loaded with your chosen value. The card can be used at the Enomatic dispensers to serve yourself your favorite, or for a self-service wine tasting, alone or with a group. The cards also make great gifts for local oenophiles.
Bistro Fine is open daily from noon – 1.00am. The full a la carte menu is available from noon to 3.00pm and again from 6.00pm until closing. Between 3.00pm and 6.00pm a limited afternoon menu is offered. The current a la carte and afternoon menus are available on the website. A two or three course set “business lunch” which changes daily is offered from Monday to Friday, with a different set menu each day. If you’re in a rush, or on a budget, it’s a great way to sample Bistro Fine. The two course lunch is HUF 2690 (US$10, €9), dessert is an extra HUF 500 (US$2, €1.60).
If you go:
Telephone +361 611 7090
Reservations can be made by phone, email, or online.
Stewart Mandy dined as a guest of Bistro Fine in June 2016
Article written: August 2016