Babel is a Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Budapest's downtown, offering a classic fine dining experience: the hushed, dimly-lit dining room has only a dozen tables, all set with white linen. Babel prides itself on serving dishes inspired by Transylvania, the chillingly beautiful, mountainous region cradled by the Carpathians and known for its long and complex history (today, it's part of Romania with a sizeable Hungarian community). The proof that this is more than empty marketing slogan is the young head-chef himself, István Veres, a Hungarian native of Transylvania.
The standout of the five-course tasting menu is the reimagined “tojásos nokedli” (egg dumplings, similar to a spätzle)—normally the simplest of countryside fare, at Babel the dumplings arrive blanketed in a luscious, truffle-laced egg cream and sprinkled with dried and grated egg yolk. Don't miss it. I also enjoyed the tender, lightly seared venison loin paired with profoundly earthy vegetables like celery-root cream, carrots, and mushroom.
The service can include a bit of theatrics, especially in the presentation of the amuse bouches, like the bite of mushroom wrapped inside a fermented grape leaf and served on a granite board. Both the five and 10-course tasting menus run €80 per person (the longer one comes in smaller portions), or €115 / €135 if you opt in for the wine pairing, which comprises Hungarian-only white wines competently selected by head sommelier Péter Blazsovszky.