Salon is one of Budapest’s few true fine dining restaurants. It occupies a corner inside the historic and jaw-droppingly ornate New York Café, a top tourist attraction in Budapest. Chef András Wolf oversees the kitchens of both the New York Café and Salon, which are separate. The dishes at Salon feature the usual suspects of Hungarian fine dining, with an emphasis on French-influenced cuisine that was once popular among the Hungarian nobility. The 7-course tasting menu, for HUF24,000 or €80 per person without alcohol, includes foie gras pate, quail meat, and venison saddle (a 4-course and a la carte options are also available). Salon's price points are similar to Budapest's other fine dining restaurants.
Most dishes incorporate common techniques of modern high-end cuisine, like foam (made of quail intestines here), textures (three types of beetroots), and unexpected ingredients (goose liver glazed with white chocolate). The flavors come together convincingly in all plates, but most lack the “wow” moment one comes to expect from a fine dining restaurant. That is, until the last course of the tasting menu arrives. It’s an awesome coming together of temperatures, flavors, textures, and colors, made of ricotta cheese, honey, sesame, and passion fruit.
Salon's gilded space within the New York Café, complete with marble columns, frescoes, and carved acanthus leaves, is less than ideal. The tourist groups next door can detract from the experience, and current fine dining is shifting away from the glitz-and-glamour of the interior. The waitstaff is approachable, kind, and knowledgeable – they serve the usually less than half-full space with ease and elegance. The crowd, similar to that of comparable restaurants in Budapest, consists almost entirely of foreigners.