Starred

CAVIAR AND BULL – Budapest

Marvin Gauci is not an average guy; he is not even 40 years old, and he has already created a preeminent gastro empire in Malta. He leads four top-category restaurants, as well as an exclusive pop-up dinner series held in the air. Now for the first time he created something truly sophisticated outside Malta as well, and launched a Mediterranean fine-dining restaurant, Caviar & Bull.

The restaurant is located adjacent to Corinthia Hotel Budapest, just off the Grand Boulevard in the centre of the city, ran by three extraordinary gentlemen, László Kézdi-Schalchta, Sergi Huerga Marin, the head chef and Marvin himself. The trio’s history goes way back to Malta, where their love for gastronomy and expertise brought them together. Their role in Caviar & Bull’s success is indubitable. You can find chef Sergi explaining the elements of the degustation menu to a guest sitting at the table, László filleting a fish and Marvin pouring liquid nitrogen as an additional show element for plating.

If we asked any gastro enthusiasts from Malta, they would surely know the name Marvin Gauci. He is the star chef of the island, as anytime he opens a new restaurant it is bound to be successful, whether it is Asian-influenced or Mediterranean. He came to Budapest through the Corinthia Hotel, as Caviar & Bull’s “brother restaurant” can be connected to one of the locations of this hotel chain, too. An opportunity emerged when this unit in the Corinthia became free, and Marvin decided to seize it. The choice of the name refers to a love of seafood and the gastronomy of the “land”. The logo also aims to merge these two elements as well, and we really like it.

The guest area is high-class, whether we look at the materials or at the tiniest details. It is enhanced with a beautiful bar, where they pay great attention to both mixology and the assortment of fine wines. For instance, the wine list includes several highly elegant and special items.

Let’s take a look at Caviar & Bull’s gastro concept: they lead a laid-back and bohemian Mediterranean cuisine in a fine-dining environment. Furthermore, they also like “sharing”, which means that when, for instance, a couple orders a degustation menu, the courses come served on one plate with two extra plates on the side in order to enable them to enjoy the intimacy of sharing a meal. We like it, but if you prefer to follow Joey Tribbiani’ rules, do not be surprised here.

The menu is lengthy and not simple, just as we expected from a Mediterranean eatery. Sergi Huerga Marin let his fantasy unwind, aiming to present the flavors of the Mediterranean Sea. They even did some “magic” during our visit, and this is how both the wagyu (5,200 HUF) and the salmon carpaccio (4,900 HUF) came served with smoke kept under a glass bell and with attentive pairings. They professionally create a sweet-savory-bitter-sour harmony of flavors in their meals. Their goose liver (5,600 HUF) course comes with walnut and blueberry jam, roasted brioche, Tokaji Aszú (a Hungarian wine), balsamic vinegar caviar, and pear and apple purée. Many of these meals are also served in the restaurant in Malta, however, Caviar & Bull shoots towards a Michelin star, hence they have to pay attention to using local ingredients, too. Therefore, we find Hungarian components in several courses. For example, the original Foie Gras from the Maltese menu was served with molecular caviar made of honey, but now, it is made from sweet Tokaj wine and the Beef Tartare is made with the inclusion of gherkins and paprika, which were not in the original Maltese recipe. There are not so many differences between the new Budapest restaurant and the original one in Malta, but many aspects of ‘Hungarian- ness’ have been seamlessly incorporated, such as the use of the local grey cattle, Mangalica pig, Foie gras, paprika and Tokaj wine, enhancing the dishes furthermore.

Our waiter happily advised us to eat these meals with our hands instead of trying to get by with a knife and fork. Even Marvin said the same, who does not rest for a minute, but keeps crisscrossing between the tables; if he sees that someone is interested, he is happy to sit with them for a while, telling them about the restaurant and the meals, or even asking these guests about their experiences… whether they are Budapest residents, or from as far away as Abu Dhabi.

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