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A tale of two lunches . . . .

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Baraka and Frici Papa sit at opposite ends of the restaurant spectrum of Budapest.  Baraka was among the first of the upscale, fusion contemporary, fine dining restaurants that began to appear – and often disappear – in the early 2000s.   Its owners, Leora and David Seboek, started out in a small place in the center city with their lavishly praised chef, Viktor Segal, but in 2006 Segal when out on his own and they moved Baraka out to Andrassy ut, to a space in a boutique hotel as upscale as their food.  It has remained among the top restaurants in the city.  http://www.barakarestaurant.hu 

Frici Papa is in the lowest class of restaurant, a kifozdeje, which roughly translates as “mama’s cooking”.  Kifozdeje typically are quite small and have a limited menu, often simply daily dishes posted on the window.  They might serve family style and only for a few hours around noon.  Their food is very cheap, very hardy, and plentiful.  Frici Papa is at the top end of the kifozdeje since it has a fixed menu as well as daily specials, it occupies two floors, and has individual tables.  Located adjacent to the Franz Liszt Music Academy, it caters primarily to a student crowd and it is always full.  http://www.fricipapa.hu/eng/index.php

Both restaurants are excellent of their kind.  Both are favorites from when we were here in 2006.

Actually our first visit to Baraka’s came after we had eaten at Segal’s restaurant, Segal, and at his recommendation.   Segal was the buzz of the growing foodie crowd in 2006 and our dinner there was truly memorable.  It was a small but elegant place and he was in the dining room to present each course.  Unfortunately the restaurant closed within a year – the public story was he lost his lease – and he has since opened and closed to great fanfare another restaurant or two because of lease issues.  He is now a celebrity chef with a consulting business. http://www.segal.hu

Our first visit to Baraka was for lunch in the garden space adjacent to the restaurant and since the location was new and it was not especially busy when we were there, Leora visited with us for quite a while.  She is from Israel and David is Hungarian, having returned from NYC where he was an award winning pastry chef.  The restaurant space is sleek and modern, appropriate to the Bauhaus design of the hotel, and their menu, then as now, is Eastern European with an Asian influence. 

We went to Baraka’s for a late lunch last Friday after seeing an exhibition of contemporary Hungarian artist, Imre Bukta. http://www.mucsarnok.hu/new_site/index.php?lang=en&t=702

 

Our food was especially good.  Angela had spinach and coconut cream soup and tandoori chicken breast; and I had a salad of ceviche prawns and cucumber, and poached sole in green curry.  They were perfectly prepared and the service was good but a bit stiff at first.  We look forward to returning for dinner soon!

We had lunch with a glass of wine and beer at Frici Papa’s today for about the cost of a glass of wine at Baraka.  Angela’s chicken cutlet (with parsley potatoes) was deliciously tender and juicy and I had a huge plate of braised pork knuckle (rich with garlic) served on fried potatoes that soaked up the braising liquid! and we split a pickled cucumber salad.  It was every bit as enjoyable as our very enjoyable lunch at Baraka.

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