As the first ”starred” restaurant in Hungary, everyone in Budapest knows Costes. In 2015 this classic of the high-end dining trade gained a trendy sister, called Costes Downtown, in the centre of town. Within a year the youngest member of the Costes family had already pocketed a Michelin star. And rightly so, for of all the places we visited in Budapest this might just have been our favourite.
You’ll find Costes Downtown situated in the chic Prestige Hotel. With all its great bars and restaurants and its waterside spot near the Parliament building and the Basilica the location immediately gets you in the right relaxed mood. The place is elegant inside with plenty of wood, potted plants and natural materials. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, but still stylish.
Young, talented team
Tiago Sabarigo is the chef and every day he gives of his best in the restaurant’s open kitchen. His experience in Portugal and London means he’s open to influences from anywhere and everywhere and that comes out in his dishes. As he develops the kitchen and his team Tiago can depend on the support executive chef Miguel Vieira, himself Portuguese.
The approach is a middle way between bistro cooking and fine dining. It leaves plenty of room for creativity while keeping flavour and refinement centre stage. The restaurant offers breakfast and lunch as well as dinner, and you could describe the cuisine as international, but with great respect for local produce.
Degustation menu at Costes Downtown
We started with the five-course degustation menu, with crispy snacks based on egg white and flour. There were crisps flavoured with smoked paprika, with squid’s ink and parmesan. That came with an olive oil and lemon juice dip with zest of the lemon added too.
The bread was obviously fresh from the oven, still warm and deliciously crusty. The bread basket came with two different sorts of butter: caramelized and with goat’s cheese. Real taste bombs, both – sophisticated and daring.
The amuse had done its job of warming up the taste buds, because the flavours lingered so well that we immediately fancied more! A macaroon with cod, creamed potato, creamed tomato, olive and paprika had a slightly burnt flavour and a freshness that put us in mind of all the subtlety of Asia.
The first starter had potato salad and smoked mayonnaise as its centrepiece. It came with seared John Dory, avocado, mushrooms and sweet potato crisps and cayenne pepper. Perhaps just a little too much of the potato, but otherwise a fine and tasty dish.
Next we had quail with grilled spinach, green lentils and onion confit. It looked as colourful on the plate as it tasted.
And now another fish recipe. Cobia, firm-textured and full-flavoured, with grapefruit purée, celery, green asparagus, sea-samphire and an squid’s ink vinaigrette.
As the main dish the chef gave us rib-eye steak with green asparagus, wild mushrooms, onion purée and gravy. A full-bodied and rich dish, although at the same time delicate and not lacking finesse.
The dessert was called, appropriately enough, “Chocolate”, being a combination of various sorts and textures of chocolate. The milk chocolate mousse was particularly soft and delicately flavoured. Pistachio nuts added some bite and refinement.
Now; just a few more sweetmeats to round things off 😉 The first of them was unforgettable from the first mouthful. This time the chef had given us dolly mixture jelly. Lovely! Took me straight back to childhood. Then came three more sweets; pineapple marshmallow, blackcurrant chocolate praline and a pistachio macaroon.
The restaurant’s sommelier is clearly extremely knowledgeable and told us all about Hungarian wines with a great deal of real enthusiasm. Indeed the combination of the drinks and the food brought the whole experience up to another level.
Our conclusion, then? Expect the highest standard of “bistronomy” at Costes Downtown. The atmosphere’s relaxed, the setting elegant and trendy. The dishes are creative and quite excellently matched to the wine, a great deal of it of local origin.