Just returned from the wilds of Alaska back in 2001, I found myself in Carlow at a nightclub. Some lad was chatting me up. His opening line? I can see by ya that ya like a bit of chocolate. Ten out of ten for observation, I thought. Zero out of ten for propriety.
I’ve written before about how much I like my food. I like to cook and I like to eat. I’ve been known to cook for myself, and to set the table with a linen napkin and my best crystal and silverware. I’m partial to a bit of finery and on occasion I even enjoy a little luxury.
I’d heard in passing about KNRDY – the restaurant with no vowel in its name. It’s on October 6 utca and by all accounts had prices well out of my reach. The billionaire’s burger on the menu comes in just shy of 12 000 ft (about $56 or $40). Enough said.
But I was curious and the universe provided. A friend invited me to dinner there. I was impressed from the outset by the service. Displaying just the right amount of attention without that obvious insincerity that similar high-class restaurants in Budapest seem to wear as a trademark, the staff were knowledgeable, friendly, and very professional. The reading lights on the menu made it easier to read without taking from the atmosphere and attention to detail was evident in everything from the offer of a purse holder to the watchfulness of the waiters.
Nicely mellowed by what had to be the best cosmopolitan I’ve had in this city to date, we decided to split some seared yellowfin tuna sashimi with cucumber salad. The creamy wasabi mayo was a perfect complement to the meaty fish and I was greedily regretting having agreed to share. Still, even the half dish was ample and I would be glad later that I’d saved room.
I went for seared king scallops on cumin and coriander lentils and while I enjoyed them immensely, I have to fess up to looking enviously at the bone-in Omaha ribeye that sat across the table. We shared some potatoes roasted in duck fat and a gorgeous dish of creamed spinach and leek gratin. All this was nicely accompanied by a Pouilly Fumé from Pascal Jolivet. I prefer to drink Hungarian wine in Hungary but who was I to argue with the choice. Delicious. A red wine from Villány accompanied the steak – a 2007 Wunderlich Ars Poetica. Apparently KNRDY’s owner liked it so much, he bought it all – every bottle. And while I am reluctant to drink red wine, I liked the taste I had of this one … a lot. Dessert, a New York cheesecake and some pecan pie, was set off beautifully by a glass of Mezés – a Tokjai furmint. Heavenly.
From the minute you set foot in the restaurant, you can see what’s on offer. The various cuts of meat are on display right inside the front door. Chalkboards tell you the weights of the pieces they have available. Tables are far enough apart that you don’t feel you’re eavesdropping on your neighbours’ conversation (mostly men, by the way) and the music from the 70s and 80s was a refreshing change and quite nostalgic. Rumour has it that the staff was trained for six months before the doors opened and that is obvious in itself. What’s also obvious is that Mr K knows what he likes – I got the distinct impression that he had personally approved and tasted every dish on the menu.
As we toasted our blessings and sat for a minute in silence reflecting on how lucky we were to have had such a meal, I gave thanks yet again for where my life has taken me. And when the bill arrived, I was even more grateful that I wasn’t the one paying it.
Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out the post Grateful 52.