The train that we boarded for our 6 hour journey from Prague set the scene for the next part of our Eastern European adventure. Unlike the more modern bullet trains of the rest of Europe, the train connecting Prague and Budapest has a slightly more traditional interior, everything you would have imagined train travel to have been like as a child - all those images of steam-filled platforms and passengers waving their hankerchiefs from their cabins. Once you get there, it doesn't take very long to realise that Budapest is breathtaking, especially when you discover that you'll be staying right by the Danube.
We were on the hunt for a good meal as soon as we got there. Our kind receptionist gave us a comprehensive run-down of the popular spots in the city. First on our list of restaurants - Ruben.
Budapest Magyar utca 12-14,
We were told that Ruben runs a very good lunch deal but we decided that we couldn't wait until the next day for lunch so we dropped by for dinner instead. Eager to start tucking into some Hungarian specialties, we combed the menu in search for the "traditional" section, placed our orders and waited in eager anticipation.
Left - spicy beef goulash soup. Right - rabbit soup.
The goulash soup was a fiery red concoction, served with a dish of what looked (and tasted) like sambal belacan. There were great expectations for the goulash soup, having read so much about Hungarian goulash but it was the rabbit soup that won (and warmed) the heart. With a tartness that I can only describe as quite like the flavour you get from gherkins and capers, there was an intriguing blend of flavours that was unlike anything I have ever had before.
Lamb served with mushrooms and a vegetable strudel. I've always got a soft spot for lamb, whether it's a stew, a curry, a roast - I'm sold. This one is right up there with some of my favourite lamb dishes, a simple roast that didn't comprimise the texture or flavour of the lamb.
Grilled pike perch with mushrooms, peppers and sour cream sauce. We didn't expect a whole fish to arrive at the table so it was quite a delight when it did. Living in London, one gets quite accustomed to having fish appear in the form of fillets - none of the joy of enjoying a fish from head to tail. The fish was nothing fancy but was a nice change from all the meat that we'd been having.
Home-style roasted rabbit ragout with tarragon sauce, soft ewe's cheese and bread dumpling.
What appeared to be multiple blobs of colour on on a plate turned out to be the star of the show. The lovely sauce that was both sweet and savoury was a lovely complement to the soft pieces of rabbit. Truly "home-style" comfort food.
After declaring that we were far too full to move, we proceeded to order a trio of desserts, one of which involved a delicious chilli chocolate souffle. I would share the photos if I could but we got a little too caught up in tucking in that the camera was completely forgotten for awhile. As if dessert wasn't enough, we decided to take a slow stroll along the Danube to cap the night off. I'll let the photo do the talking.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri - May it be filled with much love, ketupat and rendang.