La Perle Noire is a high-end restaurant occupying the ground floor of Mamaison, a four-star hotel on a quiet section of Andrássy Avenue. (Peppered with residential villas and embassies, Budapest's Andrássy Avenue is often compared to the Champs-Élysées.) Let's get the bad news out of the way: the interior of La Perle Noire is anything but cozy or inviting. Dark furnishings lend a constrained formality and nightclub atmosphere to this oversized space.

The good news? First, there's a green terrace overlooking Andrássy that offers an exclusive dining experience in the warm months (sitting at one of the sunny outdoor tables makes the corporate-looking room inside feel even more depressing). Second, the food here is very good. Chef György Lőrincz puts out international fine dining classics that are beautifully plated and delicious. Depending on the season, there might be foie gras (€26), filet mignon €26), rack of lamb (€23), or braised pork cheek (€19).

But best of all and also the most economical way to get a taste of Mr. Lőrincz's elaborate dishes is the weekday two or three-course lunch prix fixe for €10/12. Most recently I've had filets of wonderful northern pike (csuka) on a bedding of shredded beets followed by roasted slivers of chicken liver. Note that La Perle Noire is rarely more than half-full, but no one, least of all the ever-present owners, seems to mind.

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