The Kollázs Brasserie and Bar on the ground floor of the Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest, is a contemporary European brasserie overlooking the Chain Bridge and the Danube. Rupert Parker goes on a blind date for TripReporter.
The interior design reflects the Art Nouveau style of the early twentieth century with a nod to Budapest’s coffee house culture.
Indeed Kollázs means “collage” in Hungarian, and this mix of the old creates a comfortable dining space.
Chef Árpád Győrffy also blends local and international flavours, as well as traditional and modern dishes, to create a menu that is modern European with a Hungarian twist.
I opt for what they call “Blind Date with the Chef and Sommelier” for which there is no menu. All they need to know is whether I have any allergies or dietary restrictions, then I’m in the hands of Chef Győrffy.
The first dish to arrive contains two meaty snails in garlic and parsley butter on a grilled celeriac puree, topped with slices of pickled mushrooms, hazelnuts and fresh parsley.
It’s both fresh and earthy and goes well with a Hungarian Horizont wheat beer made with Japanese hops.
Next is a foie gras terrine, topped with fig jam surrounded by an artistic swirl of raw spring vegetables and flower heads.
I detect grapefruit and rhubarb in tiny blobs on the plate and a glass of Bollinger adds to the decadence.
Fish then arrives in the form of a square fillet of trout, scattered with tiny pieces of green apple and topped with various herbs and red caviar.
There’s a ginger and citrus vinegar dressing and a Tequila cocktail is the ideal accompaniment.
Now, in case you’re wondering, these are all small plates so I’ve still got an appetite for the fourth course.
It’s minimalist chunks of chicken leg and foie gras with white asparagus and cauliflower foam. Tiny bits of raw cauliflower and thin strips of raw courgette are scattered on the top and the freshness cuts through the sweetness of the meat.
The wine is a Tokay called Zombory Pince, surprisingly dry but well balanced.
There’s more meat to come in the form of a small rare steak of venison, on a bed of carrot puree surrounded by thin discs of carrot and radish. A black ball turns out to be a glorious piece of deer black pudding and there’s elderflower jelly on the side. For this dish, we leave Hungary for Italy and the Primitivo di Manduria has the depth and complexity to complement the game.
The pre-dessert is a tarragon ice cream with sour cherries, accompanied by a slightly fruity New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Then the dessert itself – French toast, crispy on the outside and oozingly soft in middle, with strawberry ice cream and fresh strawberries. A glass of sweet pink Tokay underlines the summer feeling.
Surprisingly at the end of this marathon meal I feel delightful replete and not at all overstuffed. This is the triumph of Chef Árpád Győrffy’s cooking – by mixing tiny chopped pieces of raw vegetables with substantially heavy ingredients like foie gras and black pudding, he manages to create something that manages to be both light and tasty – you could paraphrase Milan Kundera and call it the “Bearable Lightness of Being”.
Tell me more about the Kollázs Brasserie Four Seasons Hotel
The “Blind Date” at the Kollázs in the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace costs 18,000 Forints (around £50) or 29,000 Forints (around £80) with wine pairings.
Go to Hungary has information about the country.