Fiona Beckett British wine expert and restaurant critic was invited to Budapest by VinCE Budapest Wine Show, where she held a masterclass to pair wines made of indigenous grapes with food. As a side program she dined in Babel restaurant, and she was amazed! The outcome is a recent one page long restaurant review in Decanter magazine August issue.
Contrast of textures
She started praising the interior and the main concept – „The room is light, airy and contemporary – all Scandi-style furniture, glass and open brickwork. Some 75% of the ingredients and furnishings, and all the wines come from Hungary” – (in fact a couple of wines are from a broader territorry, from the Carpathian Basin, including Serbia, Slovakia, Austria), then she points out the suprising fact that most wines in the degustation menu are white, quoting the words of sommelier Péter Blazsovszky: „Red wine is always the hero of the meal. White wines can show more facets and give you an enterily different perspective on the food.” She is most fascinated by the textures: „Apart from the original and cleverly judged juxtaposition of flavours on offer here, what was so striking was the contrasting textures. The signature dish of egg galuska (noodles) – a swoonworthy combitanition of spätzle topped with an airy cloud of truffle-infused foam – was followed, by way of refreshing contrast, by a silky but deeply savoury duck broth (which reminds you why consommé used to be considered such a delicacy), and then by a robustly smoky dish of octopus.”
Juhfark shines through
Fiona Beckett mentions two white wines accompanying the dishes. A weighty Juhfark from Somló wine region (by Spiegelberg Winery) „that was in no way diminished by the intensity of the food” and a Hárslevelű from Mád, Tokaj wine region by Kaláka Winery – „as a refreshing finale”. And the judgement? „I hesitate to award Babel a perfect score because nothing is ever perfect, but it’s hard to see what could be improved here.” The result is 9.5 points out of 10!
A different concept
Budapest has 4 Michelin star restaurants at the moment, and Babel is not among them, no one knows why. The restaurant is in a spectatcular square of Budapest, a few steps away from the river Danube. The staff is well trained and works smoothly, perfectly, and the food – well, Finoa Beckett’s words underline the efforts of the chefs, István Veres and Gábor Langer and of course the owner, Hubert Hlatky-Schlichter. If you check their website, you will be surprised by the main page: no images of elaborated plates or chairs and tables, just photos taken out in the nature, reflexing the purity of the ingredients and the philosophy.
A wine list of 140 wines
This massive list of great wines from mainly Hungary, some from the neighbouring countries (often from ex-Hungarian lands) will surely find the way to every palate. Some wines from the wine list we cordially recommend:
Kovács Nimród Nagyegedi Furmint 2011
A rare wine to buy nowadays, a wonderful, complex Furmint from Eger, where it is not usual at all.
Bott Frigyes Rajnai Riesling 2012, Muzsla, Slovakia
The Hungarian winemaker from just near the border makes unbelievable clean and layered Rhine Rieslings.
Small region, small winery, great wines: this blend of Chardonnay, Szürkebarát and Ezerjó is unforgettable!
Zsirai Hárslevelű 2013, Mád, Tokaj region
Amazing subtlety, long-long finish – a stunning example of the grape Hársevelű.
Mesterünk, Eszterbauer Winery, Szekszárd, 2012
Again a wine that is sold out, but you can taste in Babel! Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend from Szekszárd, only in the best vintages.
We keep recommending to taste this Pinot, elegant and never-ending, it proves the potential of Etyek for the variety. The vintage available in shops is 2015.
The flagship wine of the winery (the name, ’Vili Papa’ meaning Uncle Willy refers to the owner called Vilmos (William) Thummerer. A 10 year old wine with still more potential!
One of the three top wines of Gere Attila Winery, a barrel selection made of Bordeaux varieties.
Kreinbacher Syrah, Somló 2011/2012
Again a wine that is hard to find. It proved to be so good, that both vintages are sold out, Babel has some bottles. (2013 is on sale now in shops)
Luka Enikő Zweigelt, Sopron, 2013
Zweigelt is „the neighbours’ tool”, it feels good in Austria, but Hungary has only a few outstanging Zweigelt wines, this is one of them.
Cuvée 7 Siklós Magnum, Sauska, Villány, 2011
A seamless Bordeaux blend from Siklós, in Villány wine region – and due to magnum aging even more refined.