In spring of 2014, a spot opened on Dob street that was popular at time when Instagram was just starting to spread its wings here in Hungary. Naturally, even before the era of taking selfies and checking in on social media, people went to fashionable, “prestige” restaurants either to impress his neighbors or to impress himself, but the restaurant we’re about explore today is something completely different.
Vintage Garden was born when Tímea Muszula, in the wake of her successful flower shop Laura, was looking for new challenges, and decided that she wanted to entertain guests rather than just sell flowers. When the coffeehouse opened it became clear that what Muszula was attempting to showcase has been a success, since the establishment she created has become Hungary’s “most photographed” restaurant.
For a while after the restaurant’s opening, the interior garden, which has since become the heart of Vintage, was not yet open; this was back when the characteristic ‘vintage’ style wasn’t the standard go-to for every other restaurant or coffeehouse in the city, and for this reason the decorations themselves were able to easily work their magic. And, when the garden was finally completed, people literally could not believe the photos that they saw in the press, from friends, or in advertisements. Vintage Garden built a courtyard that can be covered in the colder months, one that constantly dresses itself up in completely new themes; and this isn’t the sort of dress up in which a person quickly pulls oneself together before a party, but rather one where all the stylists of all the talent shows in all the world concentrate on dressing you up until seconds before the kitsch parade begins…well, it’s exactly this sort of indescribably beautiful category.
Personally, it took me four years after its opening to make my way to Vintage. The reason that it took me this long is simply that I didn’t want to be disappointed. Looking at photos, I could believe that the restaurant itself was pretty, but I assumed that that was basically all it was good for. I figured that a flower-shop owner whose sense of the beauty spills like chemtrails form the stratosphere, could, at most, do a good job making the plate look pretty.
Looking back, I think this was the smartest decision I could have made, since over the past four years they have expanded their kitchen, run it through its paces, and made it more exciting. This has been done just enough that it hasn’t jumped the shark and gone overboard.
The other reason that this proved to be a good decision was that the current décor is probably the most interesting that Vintage Garden has ever put together. They decided to create an atmosphere centered around cherry blossoms, and they weren’t kidding around when they put all this together.
While there, we had a chance to put two of their dishes under our microscope: rosé duck breast with caramel sauce gnocchi, and rosé (yes, we deliberately ordered pink foods) salmon with beet foam, carrot purée, and pearl barley. These were perfectly prepared, exciting dishes that managed to fit the restaurant’s style as well; on top of all this, the prices were in order as well.
Since Vintage Garden’s opening, Tímea and her partner have not been able to sit still, and in fact they opened a pastry shop next to the restaurant, meaning that there are some mind-blowing sweets to try here as well. In addition, they are doing pastries so well that they sell what is, in my opinion, Budapest’s best pistachio mille-feuille, which literally brought me to tears.
Thankfully, the fact that Vintage Garden has unquestionably become the most visually impressive restaurant in Hungary is not reflected either in its prices or in any decrease in quality. All of this is true in spite of the fact that the restaurant is located in the heart of one of the most touristy parts of Budapest, the party district. If you make your way into Vintage Garden you will definitely feel that its creators have something to show, and it really is something impressive.
Translated by Tom Szigeti
Photos by Péter Csákvári
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