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Gourmet Minutes: Antré—Huge F@#$%^g Portions, Fine Dining…for Cheap?

By Tom Szigeti // 2017.02.08.

Oh, sorry, that was a bit of a ‘like-magnet’ title, wasn’t it?…….<— See? I deleted “I don’t give a f@#$,” so as not to go too far in a trashy direction, but honestly, it’s a completely fair title; this restaurant tucked away in the heart of the city has found a balance between bistro and fine dining, meaning that you don’t need to show up with a pillowcase full of cash to be able to have a good dinner.

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I first heard of Márk Pataki, Antrés’ chef, when we were both cooking in the opposite corners of the world. He was the one who opened Antré, which is no small investment, considering the dining area with over 100 seats, the ultramodern interior and kitchen, all located in the “little Gozsdu,” Passage located prominently off of Király street. Pataki designed the menu so that would could get lost in the joy of discovery, but also so that it would include tried and true combos, re-imagined. Simple, yet incredible sounding dishes, which upon their arrival have a more complicated, detailed impact, but upon tasting still are familiar, and still make you smile. We ate some interesting things.

DUCK LIVER AND QUINCE SELECTION

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It’s incredible that the chef didn’t use the word “variations,” I love it! While ordering, this almost reminded me of the classic apple-liver pairing, but the quince and the dish’s plating brushed all of this out of mind, with the exception of the fact that quince and duck liver truly do go hand in hand. The spreadable version of liver is the torchon, which, with fresh bread, is like a wild summer festival: you don’t want to stop, but you know that you must at some point. At this point, we’re still only talking about an appetizer. The quince works in providing differing textures and a contrasting sweetness, serving as a ying to the liver’s yang. The entire plate was a treasure chest, full of little flavors just waiting to be discovered.

MARINATED SALMON WITH WINTER VEGETABLES

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This dish also provides a similar treasure chest effect, lots of colors, close to a dozen ingredients alongside the Freddie Mercury of appetizers: marinated salmon with beets. Next to the forest of vegetables, the fish theme can also be found in the form of salmon caviar and squid ink textures. It’s a good portion for an appetizer, although it’s also true that it costs as much as the average main course. Serving bread alongside it is brilliant: you can easily reach an “ok” level of full while waiting for your main course, even if this clearly wasn’t the chef’s goal. (it’s just that this sort of thing is a sensitive topic these days, ok?)

RARE DUCK BREAST, RISOTTO WITH BEETS, AND FRESH GOAT CHEESE

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Bam! Color and charm. I have seen this dish elsewhere, if fact I even told this to Márk, who had already heard that people had already heard about this exact dish, complete with yellow beets on top. At the other restaurant, however, the presentation didn’t really work for me, and the risotto wasn’t this good either. Duck breast is either perfect or s#$%, no surprises here, in this case it was fortunately the former. The risotto is a far more interesting topic. They used an incredible base stock to make it, but you can still notice the beets, even though they usually are underhanded little s#$%^ and like to hide behind the other flavors. All of this is enhanced by the goat cheese—which after all is the childhood buddy of beets—and together generates a parade of combined flavors. There’s this sour-salty-creamy flavor from the goat cheese, which works really f@#$%^&* well with the minerally flavors of the beets, if they are combined properly in a dish.

‘BUDAPEST FILET MIGNON’ WITH BÜKK MOUNTAIN PORCINI MUSHROOMS AND BABY POTATOES

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In Antré’s envisioning, the good old Budapest Filet is a beautiful piece of filet mignon, perfectly prepared porcini mushrooms, 3 shades of ground pepper, and a mound of diced lecsó [Hungarian vegetable stew]. The original dish, a diarrhea-colored pile of vegetables poured over a piece of meat, has never seen such a beautiful reincarnation. If anything, I feel bad for the baby potatoes, seeing as how only two of them managed to make it onto the plate, but it’s not as if we’re running low on carbs anyway.

BLACK FOREST DESSERT WITH AMARENA CHERRIES

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And at the end, the wild thing: a dessert with all the mouth-watering elements of the black forest style, unwound and rolled back together. The most beautiful part is the amarena cherries, which, if you haven’t tasted before, you can’t die until you have. Likewise, the home-made Paco ice cream, which works particularly well if it melts a bit, and its sourness mixes with the collected sweets below.

Don’t be afraid, make the trip to Antré. Here they’re not trying to cram s#$$% down your throat, nor do they want to explain to you in exhausting detail the future of Hungarian gastronomy, they simply want to feed you well, with f+!”!%/% incredible ingredients. This is a 2-3000-forint category [about 7 to 10 euros] (naturally, only if you’re not planning on messing around with the filet mignon), and the atmosphere is pretty exclusive, meaning it’s a Tinder positive location as well. For the most part Antré serves familiar foods, carefully prepared, and beautifully plated. This is the type of trustworthy restaurant where you would be happy to go back to.

Where?

Budapest 1061, Király utca 8.

Telephone:

06 70 883 0942

Translated from an article by Péter Csákvári at gastro blog Men & Tál.

Images by Péter Csákvári.

Check out all of Men & Tál’s Hungarian-language blog posts here.