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Gundel

Gouda, The...
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Gundel

On their website I can only find the prices for lunch, but not for dinner. How much is a three course dinner at Gundel? I see they have a degusztacios menu and a menu de luxe.

nyc, usa
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for Budapest
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11. Re: Gundel

A bit of unpacking is due here ...

Gundel is not a restaurant, it is a piece of Budapest history ... like Delmonico's in NYC or Simpson's on the Strand in London or the Moulin Rouge in Paris ... It's inseparable from the City Park across the way and a way of life that was violently evicted from Budapest by WW II.

Gundel, Gerbeaud, and the Cafe New York were all pieces of that world ... a grand restaurant, an elite patisserie, a literary cafe ... all of which contributed to Budapest's unique culture and feel, and all of which have been somewhat garishly restored by those who wanted to preserve (and profit from) the bygone era.

Gundel in particular evokes watlzes and ladies in gowns and men in evening dress; it was a place for families at Sunday dinner, where one could bring the children on their best behavior and then take them to the zoo or the circus across the way. If you watch the film Being Julia there is a grand restaurant scene in which Annette Bening is treated with great courtliness by the maitre d' ... that maitre d' is played by the man who actually restored Gundel -- George Lang the great Hungarian-born restaurateur who was responsible for many of NYC's most important restaurants in the 1960s-1980s. Lang started negotiating for the restoration and management of Gundel well before 1990, and once the Russians were ousted in 1990 he and Ron Lauder built the place back into a gorgeous evocation of its past.

But they also worked with the very best chefs of the socialist era, and developed recipes and somehow a feel that continues ever so slightly to evoke the very period that was the restaurants executioner. It's a relic, a sort of museum, not really alive and yet vivid and important as a way to try to get a feel for what the city was like between the wars.

As Jeremy says with precision, it's solid. Not bad. And in a sense not overpriced. So long as you don;t feel that you are paying for the food. You are paying to eat a solid meal in the company of a century's compilation of regal ghosts.

Scotland
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12. Re: Gundel

Nice one, John.

Chicago, Illinois
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for Food and Travel, World Cup, Holiday Travel, Spa Vacations, Olympics, Outdoors / Adventure Travel
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13. Re: Gundel

Yes so true quite a pleonastic description transforming a brief anecdote into a prolix saga.

Quote: "Gundel, Gerbeaud, and the Cafe New York were all pieces of that world ... a grand restaurant, an elite patisserie, a literary cafe ... all of which contributed to Budapest's unique culture and feel, and all of which have been somewhat garishly restored by those who wanted to preserve (and profit from) the bygone era."

I do so disagree with that opinion, in regards to Gundel.

Yes a fine mentioning of Geo. Lang a true historian of restaurants (he actually penned the 'restaurant' entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica) and as an inveterate researcher, Lang set out to recreate an atmosphere and dishes from Gundel's golden era, while at the same time offering lighter cuisine appealing to more modern tastes in an updated ambiance.

“Even historic restaurants should not become prisoners of the past”, Lang said.

Lang along with guidance from Lauder, who was a major patron of the arts, sought our where many paintings were located representing the history of Hungarian art over the last 100 years preceding the grand re-opening, all coinciding with Gundel's history.

Artists represented include Mihaly Munkacsy, Jozsef Rippl-Ronai, Dezso Orban, Aladar Korosfoi-Kriesch, Csaba Vilmost Perlrott; Rezso Burghardt, Odon Marrfy; Lajos Gulacsy, Geza Bornemisza; Frigyes Frank; Robert Bereny; Lajos Mark and Vilmos Aba Novak. Some of the greatest Hungarian artist of their day.

A logo for Gundel, evocative of a New Yorker magazine cover, was executed by artist Milton Glaser. The poster featured a stylized Gundel signature suggesting a chair in which a sophisticated lady sits as she sips a glass of champagne. For months before Gundel's reopening, during its extensive renovation, the poster was exhibited not only in Budapest but in such nearby central European capitals as Vienna and Prague. The shape of the signature, meanwhile, was used as an accent in the restaurant's interior design.

For the actual renovation, Lang said, "we used all the Hungarian craftsmen and we put them into business again. Certain things like glass etching had been forgotten during the 50 years during the night of communism. The culinary art and craft were renewed; the pride in their workmanship; the fact that they get what they put in...the fact that they are able to go to the very top, as long as they put in what they have to.

Considering all this and a few other things, at the time Hungarian President Arpad Goncz said that "Gundel's restoration was and is the clearest symbol of Hungary's resurrection."

I do not find that to be garish at all in shape or manner but a loving homage to a piece of Budapest and Hungarian history.

With that being said let me say I am glad to see John agree with me that Gundel is truly a dining experience that is entrenched and enhanced by it's beautiful atmosphere that does echo of days gone bye with its rich history and glorious past and a truly elegant dining room.

Gouda, The...
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14. Re: Gundel

Now I am getting really curious about Gundel! A few months ago I had afternoon tea at Claridges in London. That also was an experience! The food was good, but everything else like the beautiful room, the excellent service, etc. made it special.

luton
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15. Re: Gundel

pleonastic

there's a word i haven't seen before :-)

the problem for me as an aspiring gastronome

is that when a restaurant sets the bar so high it can be hoisted by it's own petard

when we visited in 2001 (pre trip advisor days= guide books)

it was stuffy and full of rich old businessmen in suits and ladies in pearls and fur

for any place to hit the spot for me it has to be inclusive

looking at their Sunday brunch deal that strike a chord for me as it means that maybe an aspiring Hungarian gastronome (my alter ego)

can maybe treat his wife to a beautiful day out

cheers tony

Adelaide, Australia
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16. Re: Gundel

Gundels Sundya lunch is excellent, both in quality and cost.

nyc, usa
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for Budapest
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17. Re: Gundel

Gundel's has gone through some changes of ownership/management since Lang & Lauder, and it's all a more complex and lengthy a tale than even Sebesz or I have hashed it out to be. In addition to being a tribute to the restaurant's glory days, it was also something of an effort to, quite consciously, move aspects of the city and its food cautiously beyond the harshest aspects of pre-1990 socialism. The work that Sebesz quotes Lang about commissioning, for instance, was initiated well before 1990 and was to some degree caught up in the bureaucracy and hierarchies of the time. The trouble to some degree is that while Lang and Lauder were taking these important, urgent, loving small steps to rescue a grande dame from almost certain obscurity, history and politics were taking brash gigantic strides, which relatively immediately overtook them.

Lang was a showman and a marketer, and he used his talents to further not only his own projects but that of the struggling country just before and after 1990. He brought Gundel's chefs over to the UN dining room for at least two annual demonstration stints of Hungarian cuisine, and he and Lauder poured money and love into resuscitating a vineyard in Tokaj ... that Gundel signature adorned all sorts of co-marketed products and helped launch a small platoon of young chefs.

But to be frank, none of the cooking was anywhere near as good as it was in either of Lang's Hungarian kitchens in NYC -- Hungaria and in a somewhat less purely Hungarian sense the Cafe des Artistes; and, if one knew how to order, the Four Seasons -- and Lang knew that, I think. It was, for so long as he managed it, wedded to people whose roots were stuck in the cement of the national culinary training system pre-1990, as a place like the Gellert remains today. This too has a kind of historic value, at least to my tastes, but it was sort of clunky.

I'll admit to not having been there since Lang died, and I really want to do so (all the more as I hear the food has gotten somewhat better of late, and it was surely never bad). But it's a complicated place ... Lang was a meticulous researcher and a great restaurateur ... but he (unlike Lauder, if I'm not mistaken, whose mother was the one with the immediate Gundel memories) also remembered the place from his childhood and to a very great extent it was that childhood he was trying to recapture.

18. Re: Gundel

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