In 2010, Costes was the first restaurant in Hungary to win a Michelin star. Today, despite the fact that Budapest has many Michelin-starred places, a special cachet remains to Costes. It's also the only fine dining restaurant in Budapest helmed by a female chef, Eszter Palágyi.
She applies contemporary French cooking techniques to premium, locally-sourced ingredients, and transforms them into visually striking, delicate dishes. If more Hungarians knew that pike perch could be this tender and subtly sweet, they'd be eating more of it. The foie gras is creamy, light, and intensely flavorful. I'd be hard-pressed, however, to call out any of the plates as truly spectacular, that is, until the desserts arrive. They're delicious and playful (Palágyi started as pastry-chef). Take for example “Bling,” a lemon cream coated in a round, thin, transparent sugar glaze and sealed by a grey, sculpted sponge cake. It looks so much like a light bulb, including screw threads and electrical foot contact, that patrons need the encouragement of servers to crack open the “glass.”
Traditional Hungarian foods appear as part of impish amuse bouches: diners are introduced to mini versions of the goulash soup, lángos, and Túró Rudi. Dessert arrives inside an oversized Rubik’s cube, as an homage to this Hungarian invention. The 7-course tasting menu runs €130 per person (€210 with wine pairing). The service staff, similar to other fine dining restaurants in Budapest, is friendly and informed. Note that Costes is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.