Review #2: MÁK

21 April 2017

After a wonderful evening of dining and drinking with dear old friends, I sadly left Prague and headed to Budapest for a short trip. My Budapest plans had all fallen apart after I planned the short stay, so I was in a bit of a foul mood. But one thing that’s certain, I was looking very forward to feasting in Budapest again.

The flight got in mid-afternoon so not much to do but unpack and sort some logistics for the rest of my trip — which will take me to another 5 countries (having just arrived in my 3rd). Then I headed out to dinner somewhere that I had pretty good memories of, MÁK. My previous meal here was very enjoyable so I decided on a return visit.

I got there on the early side, weaving through the hoardes of tourists, the annoying amount of anti-EU propaganda (utterly ridiculous stuff) plastered on every billboard, and the massive amount of construction that made it a headache for pedestrians. Enjoyed a drink and decided on the tasting menu, but asking for one wee change. They were game so I was happy.

The night started off pretty well and soon the amuse arrived…

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A duet of contrasting flavours, the front was based on egg and cod, the rear one on prawn and garlic. Not bad. Then a bigger amuse, butternut squash and chicken liver.

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Again, not bad, but it’s nearly the size of a dish in a tasting menu, so that seemed odd. One very annoying thing is that as there was PA music in the dining room, there was an unpleasant amount of hip-hop bleeding through from the kitchen. The bass was ridiculously loud I thought there was a drummer rehearsing at first. This really shouldn’t be happening, Friday night or not!

In any case, then the first course on the tasting arrived based on asparagus (it’s in season)…

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I wrote down “meh” on my notepad about this course. The asparagus grilled (both white and green) was charred, which is fine for me as long as it doesn’t turn stringy. But the other components, such as the nettle, didn’t add much. Anyway…

The wine pairing has been good and generous, I must say. Last time I was here I wasn’t thrilled with the short pours, so this has improved. I’m hoping the food is on the same trend as last time. The next course was the one I switched. Originally sweetbread, I opted for this instead — mackerel.

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I love mackerel but this was a cry for help… The fish was cooked poorly, the taste was sickly sweet. And my goodness that skin was DISGUSTING. If you’re not gonna make it edible, please remove it! It was like trying to eat your window curtains… What a disastrous switch! Mel -1 so far… I should have read my own review because I forgot last time I thought their mackerel wasn’t great either — but this was…ugh…

I left the skin on the plate in a prominent way, hopefully to convey a message…but prolly didn’t. And the runner, whenever he puts something down, he starts to snap his fingers and/or clap like he was in a club or something. Sigh…is Budapest’s brain drain getting worse again? I wouldn’t be surprised with this awful political environment.

In any case, let’s hope this below-par dinner gets better (like last time). Next course was the so-called special course (not listed on the menu) and it was…well…

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Their take on the Waldorf Salad. I won’t say any more. This looks like something from the ala carte menu with the key ingredient removed. Huh? At this point if it wasn’t for the good wine pairings I would be pretty ticked off. Compared to my last visit this is awful… Next up, octopus…

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Nothing to write home about, not stringy but not snappy. Again, very “meh” as much as I hate that word, it really sums it up. And now in mid-bite that club-happy runner places new silverware on my table. In mid-bite. Okay, the FoH training here is really fallen apart. I’m now in the very disappointed mode.

One funny thing was that when one of the wines was being introduced to me, there was something that made a historian like me chuckle. If you want to know more, let me know, but basically somehow TRIANON ended up as an issue in my wine pairing…how amazingly Hungarian is that? Sigh… Oh well, next course.

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Always my favourite, mangalica. Good dish, finally, though not thrilled about the cooking method. Nevertheless the pork was of excellent quality, lovely flavours. And the peas really added a nice touch. Finally! Took long enough.

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After a wee beet and berry pre-dessert, we moved to the main dessert and I was a bit puzzled…

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Yeah, I won’t say much more, except that there’s green apple and mascarpone involved…

This was a rather disappointing dinner I have to say. FoH failures were unfortunate, but today the kitchen was just not there. Compared to last time I was here this was not good. I hate when I like a place and return for it to turn so rubbish…

The only consolation for the night was chatting with the manager, and having a few very hard-to-find tipples. Lovely brandies made from celeriac (!) and beet closed the night. Saved it a little. But still, I’m very disappointed that a place like this turned so bad. Is it the Friday/weekend disease with staffing? Who knows, but it’s not a great start to my time in Budapest…

In any case, I doubt I’ll be revisiting this place. A shame, really…

MÁK
Vigyázó Ferenc utca 4
Budapest, Magyarország

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2 thoughts on “Review #2: MÁK

  1. Pingback: Review: Salon | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: Review: Costes Downtown | melhuang1972

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