As I have been sorting through the remainder of the pictures from our summer trip in Europe, I’ve had a hard time trying to decide what to include here on the blog. I honestly hope that I haven’t bored you to death reading about our travels and I also want to include things that I think are interesting or that you might enjoy. It can be hard finding the right balance, but I hope that I’ve been doing an okay job. Anyway, I’m putting together a final look at Budapest and everything was coming together nicely except I wanted to write about this restaurant that we visited but it wasn’t really fitting in with the rest of the post so I have decided to write about it separately.
The restaurant is called És Bisztró and according to its website it is a “wine bar, beer pub, terrace, bistro, restaurant, brasserie.” Located in the heart of the pedestrian zone in Budapest inside the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus (the hotel also houses Nobu), És Bisztró has everything that you would expect from a trendy restaurant, but it also has a traditional twist that sets it apart from the other cool kids in the restaurant business. This is no small feat considering that És is just one of many hip restaurants in Downtown Budapest’s Gastronomic Quarter.
I would love to say that we had done a lot of research that led us to dining at És, but the honest truth is that the boys were tired and hungry and Little Man saw one of the plates being presented to a customer and he insisted, “I want to eat there, right now!” It was a beautiful day so we opted to eat on the patio. The wait staff was warm, welcoming and conversed just as easily with Mat in English as they did with David in Hungarian. The thing that won me over with the staff was how they treated my children. The boys are extremely well behaved in restaurant situations but often times when you walk into a restaurant with little kids (especially a fashionable or popular restaurant), they not only give you dirty looks, but they relegate you to the furthest corners of the restaurant where you are often forgotten or at the very least treated insufficiently. This was not the case with the staff at És. After the warm welcome we were shown to a prime table at the center of the patio and our waitress made a point of addressing the boys as if they were actual people instead of talking over their heads. This is a rarity not only in trendy upscale restaurants, but in restaurants in general.
As their website notes, És serves “typical dishes of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy” but with a modern flair. És actually means “and” in Hungarian and the name is representative of the fact that fine dining does not have to be an either/or experience but can be all-inclusive. You can have traditional dishes AND modern interpretations; you can have a fine dining experience AND a relaxing meal with friends. You can be warm and welcoming to adults AND small children. As their website asks, “Why have ‘either-or’ when you can also have ‘ÉS’?” There are a lot of great restaurants in Budapest but it is hard (and before finding this one I thought impossible) to find one that is both trendy AND traditional.
Traditional with a modern flair doesn’t even do the food at ÉS justice. The chefs at the restaurant take everything that I love about Hungarian comfort foods and, through culinary innovation and ingenuity, they take it to a whole other level. Everything was cooked perfectly, the flavors melded together seamlessly and everything flowed together harmoniously. Whatever you do, don’t pass up the bread. They bring it out piping hot in terracotta pots and serve it with delicious butter sprinkled with black salt. Divine! It has definitely been added to the list of places that we must visit the next time we are in Hungary.