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, Costes still has a special cachet. It's also the only fine dining restaurant in Budapest helmed by a female chef—the prodigiously talented 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 trout could be this soft and subtly sweet, they'd be eating more of it. The foie gras is creamy, light, and intensely flavorful. The squab, tender with an earthy elegance, comes with diced beets and flecks of Ethiopian coffee beans. Desserts are playful and inventive (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 also appear as part of 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. There's a four (€90 per person), five (€100), six (€110), and seven-course (€130) tasting menu option that you can supplement with wine pairing, consisting of local wines from across Hungary, including Tokaj of course. The service staff is friendly and informed. Note that Costes is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.