You wouldn't guess that a truly excellent fine dining restaurant hides in a dim backstreet of Budapest's District 7, just blocks from the heart of the party district. The vibes here are casually elegant: cushy modern furnishings, bare wooden tables, soft electronic music. The sleek below-ground kitchen sends out beautiful plates inspired by the traditions of Hungarian food, with twists and turns of course.

Aged Mangalica ham, stuffed cabbage, pure-tasting catfish with farmer's cottage cheese (túró), maroon paprika sauces reduced to earthy richness, homemade plum preserves. The list goes on. Most memorable is the brown-hued consommé, packing pockets of flavorful dumplings and evoking the celebratory Sunday family meals across households in Hungary.

The six-course tasting menu runs €125, or €195 with wine pairing. Apart from a delicious grower Champagne, the wines feature Hungarian producers from Somló, Balaton, Villány, and of course the famous Tokaj region (both dry and sweet). Laurel's service team is among the best in Budapest – alert, knowledgeable, but unobtrusive.

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