Fáma Budapest

Fáma is a 2016 venture of Hungarian celebrity-chef Krisztián Huszár. It was a bold move to open a fine dining restaurant in a residential Buda neighborhood, away from the well-trodden tourist paths of downtown Pest and the Castle Hill. The owners spared no expense to create a tastefully chic interior, featuring a dimly-lit dining room and grey-painted walls accented by industrial pipes overhead.

The dinner tasting menu is a four-, five-, or six-course option selected from twelve pre-set dishes that change with the seasons. Fáma's cuisine is difficult to pigenhole to any one category - it's based on bold flavor combinations using elements of Hungarian and Asian cooking, and packing them with plenty of pleasantly sour notes.

Mr. Huszár is a formidable chef, as he has demonstrated in the past at leading Budapest restaurants, and he applies his craftsmanship with painstaking attention to plating, textures, visuals, and the fermented flavors so popular these days. Yet some of the plates at Fáma fall short of his reputation. The bright acidity of the calamansi citrus vinaigrette stock was overpowering the umami of the pan-roasted scallop and tofu. Similarly, the borscht was distractingly sour, almost overwhelming the flavorful, beautifully marbled short ribs.

My favorite was the revivingly warm and soft shiitake mushroom covered in a light-but-crunchy batter and sitting in a mushroom veloute bedding. I also enjoyed Huszár’s playful take on the Hungarian fish soup, a centuries-old peasant fare, which at Fáma comes with a raw, melt-in-your-mouth scallop, an unorthodox ingredient in landlocked Hungary.

Overall, it’s fantastic that Budapest’s small circle of fine dining restaurants has expanded with Fáma, particularly in this unlikely neck of the woods. For now, Fáma is no competition to Costes Downtown, Budapest’s best casual fine dining establishment, but with minor adjustments to the few lackluster dishes and an even more knowledgeable waitstaff, it will be well-worth crossing the Danube for. The 6-course dinner runs €65 per person without wine pairing; the “chef’s choice” includes all twelve items for €80 per person.