Anyone who knows anything much about fancy food in Budapest will already know about Culinaris (click link for contact details and user feedback), the locally-owned chain of gourmet food stores that began with humble roots in District VI before opening a big shiny outlet in Buda a few years back. Well, just a few weeks back they opened up their third store, this time just a block or so from Parliament in District V, where, in a few more weeks’ time, they will be further expanding the horizons of local gourmands with the first Culinaris-branded restaurant.
There’s not a whole lot to say about the new shop that the pictures above and below – some of which were provided by Culinaris king Zoltán Bogáthy‘s shutterbug friend Tamás Kaunitz – can’t tell. You’ve got all the extravagant eatable luxuries any foodie could ask for, all displayed in a way that makes you think they are necessities. It sits in the premises of the former Majd Leonard Étterem, which was okay, but not as exciting as this, even if Bogáthy (right in above shot, with Culinaris co-prince Botond Boldizsár Biro at left) continues in his scandalous refusal to sell his goodies online.
What the pictures don’t show is the still-unfinished restaurant area that will soon face out onto Balassi Bálint utca, which Bogáthy gave me a tour of yesterday. It’s a small space that will have less than a dozen seats, where discriminating diners will get to enjoy sit-down meals at all times of the day except, well, dinner. (And, following the trailblazing path laid by Klassz, you won’t be able to reserve a table.) Diners will also be able to have any goodies collected in the store brought to the restaurant and put on the same bill.
While Bogáthy says he is still mulling over what exactly will be served, he stressed that he wants to keep the menu short. In other words, probably just a couple of soups, a few mains, and a few salads. Meanwhile, most or all dishes will be available to go, just like the coffee. (It will be Illy, in case that means something to you.)
And speaking of keeping things short, the plan is to allow diners to chow down and pay up as quickly as they like. Like many of the foreign-types he caters to, Bogáthy flickers red with rage when the issue of restaurant wait-times in Hungary comes up. He says his objective is to make the eatery the “second-fastest” restaurant in Budapest, by which he means service almost as fast as at your average McDonald’s. As soon as your last plate or glass is put on the table, you’ll get your check, and any waiter who dawdles when a patron tries to settle their bill will be tossed out faster than your average grouchy egy pillanat. Which is something I’m willing to wait months to enjoy.