Könyvbár is an upscale restaurant within Budapest's Jewish Quarter. Head chef Zoltán Decreceni brings a Michelin experience to this snug, book-lined space, which has become a tourist favorite following praise from the New York Times. The food here doesn't easily fit into any mold: there are both Hungarian classics (goulash soup) and international foods (risotto with scallops) on the slim menu, which changes seasonally. What unites these beautifully plated dishes is how good they are. Take the fogas, once Hungary's prized fish, arriving on a bed of creamy cauliflower and ringed by crunchy and colorful slices of the vegetable.
The wine list includes a curated selection of top Hungarian and regional (Austrian, Slovenian) options and also a few natural wine producers. The thematic concept of the restaurant — picking a popular book and using its plot as inspiration for the dishes — falls flat for me, but I have only myself to blame for still not having read Harry Potter. The servers tend to nudge patrons toward the five-course tasting menu, which, for €55 or €85 with the wine pairing, is among the better deals in Budapest, but an a la carte option is also available with mains in the €15-20 range.
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