A relaxed but fabulous farm to table tasting menu in Budapest
Mak restaurant in Budapest is modest on the outside, a small and unassuming stone building. One might barely notice Mak restaurant, in contrast with the bright yellow tones and elaborate architecture seen across the rest of the city. Inside, it is even more restrained. Paired back Scandinavian chic, white-washed walls hung with relaxed black and white prints and floor to ceiling glass wine fridges. The service matches the decor perfectly, relaxed and friendly but impeccable and classy nonetheless.
The food however, is the star of the show at Mak. The tasting menu at Mak restaurant is extravagant, but not fussy. It is playful and decadent but not pretentious.
Picture a cheese topped doughnut-like pastry (Hungarian Langos) infused with dried guinea fowl – all packed up into a neat little amuse-bouche. Salty, sweet and savoury all at the same time.
You can’t imagine it can you? Thankfully, the clever chef at Mak restaurant, János Mizsei can and he can deliver it with aplomb too.
Locals know about Mak restaurant. The trendy people of Budapest have long been coming to Mak to celebrate engagements, birthdays, promotions, even Fridays. It is the perfect place for a treat. But, tourists visiting Budapest are missing it. They are trundling past on the tram and not noticing the brilliance of Mak, hidden behind the stone walls. But this has to stop!
Put down the goulash soup and book a table at Mak restaurant immediately.
Mak restaurant serves the best tasting menu in Budapest paired with a selection of fantastic Hungarian wines. This restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy a decadent but laid-back meal whilst visiting Budapest.
Mak is the most romantic restaurant in Budapest
Budapest is a romantic city. Everywhere we looked during our visit we noticed courting couples exploring the city together. From young twenty somethings taking their first city break with their boyfriend or girlfriend, to long married couples still adoring each other. There is no escaping the fact that Budapest is a city for lovers.
If you are visiting with your significant other and looking for a romantic restaurant in Budapest, we urge you to pop into Mak and enjoy the tasting menu. A far cry from lady and the tramp, instead you’ll be serving each other delicate morsels of delicious food and marvelling over the Hungarian wine list.
As a couple, we are always looking for romantic restaurants in cities we visit. But there is nothing worse than forced romance, candles everywhere and a harp playing awkwardly in the background. Mak doesn’t push romance down your throat, but the subtlety of it, the simplicity and delight of the food just gives you all “the feels.”
Mak is the type of restaurant that you will visit for lunch and as the courses keep coming, the wine flows and the conversation scintillates, you will sink in and never want to leave.
Hungarian ingredients and fine dining at Mak restaurant
The tasting menu at Mak is eight courses long, with a bread course and three (three!) amuse-bouche thrown into the mix for fun. The concept of the menu is that it offers a Farm to Table (Farm to Mak) experience. All ingredients are from Hungary, either from the North of the country or the South. The menu alternates between the two. A large blackboard map of Hungary on the wall of the restaurant reminds you of this concept and ensures that you’re able to learn a little about Hungarian cuisine and geography as you dine.
Don’t allow to the local ingredients on the menu to trick you into expecting traditional Hungarian fare at Mak restaurant. Far from it.
The food is chic, modern and interesting. Chef János Mizsei has worked in Scandinavia previously and we really enjoyed the light fusion of this influence into the tasting menu.
We started the tasting menu with three amuse bouche. The first delivering salty and smoky flavours in a guinea fowl basil foam. The second, a trout and leek dish served on a sunflower seed cracker flavoured with dill. A dish which delicately evokes Danish summer time. And the third, a play on Hungarian Langos (a traditional dough based treat). But Mak’s version has complex and exciting flavours.
The first course was a roasted pumpkin dish with a cashew nut creaminess and a light rosehip source poured over it. The second course packed a punch of umami flavours and citrus, elevating fermented cabbage into something divine. We started to see a theme emerging. Meat and fish are used sparingly throughout this tasting menu, the vegetables are showcased instead. For us, this sets the tasting menu at Mak apart. The food is clever, delicate and complex, but it also uses local resources carefully and creatively.
The best tasting menu in Budapest at Mak restaurant
It would be remiss to talk about the tasting menu at Mak without mentioning the carrot course created by chef János Mizsei. The third course on the menu is a smoked carrot with a slight taste of elderflower, accompanied by horseradish snow. The snow is ice cold, but the heat of the horseradish hit our palates immediately. Contrasted with the sweetness of the carrot, this is a really exciting dish. It was made even more memorable when we discovered that the kitchen start to prepare the carrot 48 hours before service.
Another favourite of ours, was the fifth course, a smoked trout dish livened up with garlic emulsion and aged local cheese. It tastes like the sea, but with an earthy edge created by the cheese and celeriac accompaniments. The lamb course (course six) was particularly unique, a showcase of delicate cookery with the meat served alongside artichoke puree and adorned with pine tree. Suddenly we were transported to Christmas, with the scent of Norwegian spruce wafting from the plate.
Two sweet dishes were served to finish off the incredible tasting menu at Mak restaurant Budapest. One was a “pre-pudding” served with a jammy raisin infused wine that transitioned us from main course to dessert splendidly. The final course that we enjoyed was a moist blackcurrant cake served with a walnut and cocoa mousse, a bitter but comforting end to the tasting menu.
Hungarian wine tasting in Budapest
If you enjoy wine, do not, under any circumstances, come to Mak restaurant in Budapest and dare to take the tasting menu without the wine pairing. It’s fair to say that the locally sourced wine left us thoroughly enchanted by Hungarian wine. Mak’s expertly crafted wine flight took us on a journey from the white wines of the Badacsony region of Hungary, to the orange wines of the Balaton area.
We enjoyed a glass of orange wine aptly named ‘Liquid Sundowner’ from the Kristinus winery. This was paired perfectly and aesthetically with the chef’s famous carrot dish.
The wines that we tried all came from small and independent wineries in Hungary. Many of the wineries make less than 500 bottles of the wines that we were lucky enough to enjoy. We learnt about the organic wineries, who owns them and what they specialise in and it made us want to visit all of them. One of our favourites was the 2017 bottle of Gallay Blanc, a rare drop of white wine that has been aged in Hungarian and American oak, to great effect. This paired perfectly with our fourth course, providing a creamy contrast to the capers and the salty Mangalica ham in the dish.
A perfect wine flight at Mak restaurant
Eight wine pairings and a glass of Hungarian liquor later and we are telling the sommelier that he was the nicest man we’ve ever met as we put our coats on. We were intoxicated (in a good way) by his epic choice of wines paired with the food. But, he also was really genuinely very nice. This is important, because the last thing anyone wants when taking a wine pairing is to feel that you are somehow being judged on your wine knowledge or that you are being lectured at, like being back at school.
The sommelier at Mak is the opposite, we felt that we learnt a lot about Hungarian wine but we were never given too much information. Instead, his passion and enthusiasm shone through. He wanted us to enjoy the wine and looked delighted when we did – plain and simple.
That seems to be the overall ethos of Mak restaurant – come here for a good time and enjoy yourself! Incredible Hungarian food, quaffable wine and understated pleasure. You will not be disappointed.
How to visit Mak restaurant in Budapest
You can find the website for Mak restaurant in Budapest here. Mak is in the heart of Buda, close to both the river and St Stephens Basilica. Book a table to avoid disappointment. The eight course tasting menu costs 41,000 HUF ($115/£95) and the Hungarian wine flight pairing is 23,000 HUF ($65/£54). You can download the current Farm to Table menu (March 2023) here.
Our experience was gifted at Mak restaurant in Budapest. All opinions are our own.