Medieval dining meets culinary renaissance

by | Mar 21, 2016

In a city filled with old world grandeur – art nouveau mansions, a stone-walled citadel, a castle on a hill – Fisherman’s Bastion holds its own.

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In a city filled with old world grandeur – art nouveau mansions, a stone-walled citadel, a castle on a hill – Fisherman’s Bastion holds its own. This piece of the walled fortress that used to surround Buda Castle, complete with ramparts, buttresses and a lookout tower, has been restored to magnificent effect as a fine dining restaurant.

Up a set of stone steps on the outside of the bastion is Margaréta Terrace where, on a clear evening, you can sip your aperitif from an enviably high vantage point. Down below, the Danube stretches into the distance to the north and south and Pest’s stately buildings stand at attention, saluting you from the opposite bank.

Fisherman’s Bastion, named for the fishermen who would sell their wares in the nearby square, was built in the Middle Ages for the city’s protection. In the centuries that followed, the castle’s defensive structure was damaged and rebuilt multiple times, at one point taking on a Baroque sensibility but ultimately reflecting the neo-Romanesque style popular in the early 1900s. In 1987, the entire castle district, including Fisherman’s Bastion, was declared a World Heritage Site.

Today, this section of stone fortress, with its commanding views over the city and its impressive stonemasonry, remains one of Hungary’s most famous and iconic structures. The beautifully renovated establishment incorporates period-style doors and windows fashioned by local craftsmen and a wrought-iron entrance gate.

The kitchen, outfitted with state-of-the-art gastronomic facilities, delivers piping hot dishes to the dining rooms and alcoves above via a system of dumbwaiters.

A winding stone staircase leads guests from the entrance foyer into the Knight’s Hall. One can easily picture a medieval banquet, albeit a very sophisticated one, taking place here at the large, round dining table while smaller parties sup in the adjacent private alcoves.

Taking the staircase one storey higher leads to a mezzanine where couples can dine in romantic seclusion while enjoying views over both the city and the Knight’s Hall. At the building’s apex, the Tower Room can accommodate a group of up to 20 people during the summer months and provides fantastic 360-degree views over Budapest.

Throughout the restaurant, sparkling chandeliers, customdesigned wooden furniture, glass display cases and crisp white linens create a refined ambiance. Looking ahead, Fisherman’s Bastion plans to introduce a chef’s table in the kitchen – the first of its kind in Hungary – from which diners can get a behind-thescenes look at this gourmet operation.

And then there’s the food. Chef Zoltán Hammer’s innovative modern European cuisine is grounded in traditional Hungarian flavours and is brought to life using seasonal – and locally sourced when possible – produce. Even old school Hungarian dishes like Hortobágyi crêpes stuffed with veal – which could come across as quite stodgy – are revamped into delicate gastronomic works of art.

A standout dish on a recent visit was foie gras wrapped in a ribbon of smoky prosciutto served with fruit chutney, a gingerbread crisp and a slice of gingerbread loaf. An excellent selection of vintages from each of the Hungarian wine regions completes the picture. From the amuse bouche to the last bite of dessert the Fisherman’s Bastion experience is nothing short of delightful.

Based on the restaurant’s architecturally stunning, historically significant location, Fisherman’s Bastion succeeds in delivering traditional Hungarian hospitality and local flavours with modern sophistication in an unparalleled setting. Chef Hammer and his team in the kitchen, sommelier Gergely Bitai, and the entire wait staff work hard to ensure the food is just as perfect as the setting.

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