Detailed review by Praskipark
I first came across this restaurant on our recent trip to Budapest. It was on one of those evenings when you walk around the city but can't make up your mind which restaurant to choose. We are terrible at choosing restaurants as we don't always like the same food and we are not very good at making decisions. We had passed by the restaurant every night as it is very close to the central market and main shopping street. The outside of the building isn't anything too grand in fact it has graffatti drawn all over the side wall as a lot of buildings do have in Budapest. I don't dislike graffatti but this wasn't a masterpiece - it only made the building look dowdier.
Peering in through the windows the scenario inside was a different story - nothing dowdy here. Bright lights, waiters dashing to and fro, a hive of activity. We decided to go inside and voila, the atmosphere was terrific.
A little bit of info about the restaurant first. It is well known in Hungary for importing argentinian beef fresh from the Pampas of Argentina. This is not practised in any other restaurants in Budapest or in the whole of Hungary. Hungarian meat is served as well but it is the fact that this speciality straight from the New World is served in this very stylish restaurant in the city centre.
It is located in Central Budapest near to the covered Central Market which is worth a visit as it is fascinating, also close to the Vaci Utca shopping street, and Liberty Bridge.
Using public transport take the metro line (blue) to Kalvin ter station or the number 2 or 2A tram.
Opening times are from noon every day until 2pm.
The decor is very bright and stylish. Terracotta walls adorned with old maps of Argentina. Huge wooden tables with soft leather seats. Low hanging copper and brass lamps over the tables give the restaurant a look sophistication.
Waiter service is very professional, friendly and keen to help. if not a little over attentive at times.
It is very popular with locals as well as tourists so there can be queues waiting for tables although they seemed to be turned around pretty quickly. The atmosphere is very lively, if not a little too noisy. Music is Spanish - yes you guessed right - Gypsy Kings and played quite loudly. Altogether I would say the restaurant has a party atmosphere.
But what about the food? Ok - starters we chose Mozzarella Napoleon; a mozzarella salad with tomatoes covered in virgin extra olive oil, basil and pesto. This came accompanied by a basket of warm fresh bread. Couldn't help but dip my bread in the olive oil. I know it isn't very sophisticated but it is delicious!
There are lots of varieties of salads to choose from;
For example: Caeser classic - fresh lettuce leaves with croutons, capers, Caesar dressing and Parmesan curls,
Caesar Carlos - with chicken breast strips roasted on lava stone
Ruccola (rocket) salad - angus tenderloin with Dijon mustard laid on a ruccola bed
Prices range from 1290 Hungarian Forints (£4.20) - 2290 Hungarian Forints (£7.50)
Now for the main meal.
Well if you love steak you will be in for a treat. Lovely cuts of meat , all fresh from the wild pampas. You might ask why is Argentinian meat so tasty. It all started a long time ago, in the times of Christopher Columbus. He was known to have introduced Spanish Longhorn cattle in to the New World countries like Argentina, and over the years this herd has been cross bred with breeds from the Scottish Highlands, like Angus cattle and also Hereford cattle. The Angus breed is known for high quality meat.
So what cuts of meat can you choose from? Rib -eye, sirloin, rump, T-bone, tenderloin and New York Strip. You choose your cut of steak by weight and the portions are 200gm, 320gm and 480gm.
Are you drooling yet? The steaks are grilled on the premises so you can view the chef as he works. That aroma! Sizzling steak. We chose a 320gm sirloin each. It comes served on it's own on a white plate drizzled with chocolate. I've never seen this before and at first I was a bit dubious but it was delicious. I ordered my steak to be cooked medium-rare and it was cooked to perfection. Thin, lean and juicy. As a side dish you can have salad or a choice of side dishes ranging from chips or steak fries as they call them, croquette potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, baked potatoes stuffed with garlic sour cream covered with roast bacon and melted cheese, corn on the cob, various salads, grilled pumpkin, onion rings and seasonal vegetables.
Steak prices range from 200gm - 1990 HF(£6.50) - 3990HF(£13)
320gm from 3190 HF(£10.40) - 6190 HF( £21)
480gm - 4270HF (£14) - 9570HF (£31.50)
How does this compare with UK prices. I don't really know - they look quite expensive to me but I never eat steaks in England so I can't compare. All I can say is thatthe meal was delicious and worth every penny.
Desserts - we didn't have any as I don't really have a sweet tooth but they had a wide range to choose from: Profitteroles, Pampas Cheese Cake.-Chocolate Mousse. Lemon Sorbet.-Apple Pie, Torta de Dulce de Leche (creme caramel tart), Ice cream, Brownie with vanilla Ice cream. These were all priced 620 HF which is just over £2, except Ice Cream but that was because it was a special with lots of different flavours with sparklers. The price for the special ice cream was about £3.
With our meal we chose a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon which was served in two of the biggest wine glasses I have ever encountered. They were enormous. The bottle was brought by the waiter to a little side table. He opened the bottle gently and then we smelt the aroma and then tasted it. It was delicious. The down side here was that he only put a small amount of wine in to the glasses but then was hovering around the table waiting to top it up. I really dislike that in any restaurant as it is tiresome. I just like to be left alone with my bottle of wine to relax. As well as reds from Chile there were Argentinian wines, French and of course Hungarian. Also White and Rose if you fancy a lighter wine. Prices varied from £9 up to £30.
Oh I forgot to mention the house specialities which are;
Rose Ánade - Duck breast cooked rare with cumberland sauce
Spare Ribs- BBQ Baby Back Ribs from the grill with fries
Pork loin of Mangalica pig cured in spicy brine and roasted whole
Asado de Ternera - whole veal shank baked in a hot oven
Or if you don't fancy any of those how about this selection?
Csirkemell "Provence - Roasted chicken breast in Casanova sauce with garlic, tomato and mushrooms, served with saffron wild rice
Csirkemell "Relleno - Grilled chicken breast fillet filled with four kinds of seasoned cheese served with garlic mashed potatoes
Csirkemell "Mendoza - Chicken breast, spread with bacon and vegetables grilled on lava stone, topped with melted cheese
Pulykasteak "Asado - Roasted turkey breast cured with spices, served with a fresh mixed salad
Lazacsteak "Pimienta - Roasted salmon fillet cured with lemon pepper served with whole boiled potato seasoned with butter and chopped parsley
Lazacsteak "Aneldo - Roasted salmon fillet with a dill sauce served with whole boiled potato seasoned with butter and chopped parsley
Cápasteak "Congrejo - On butter mindly braised, ready-made shark steak grilled on lava stone with mediterranean shrimp stew and croquette potatoes on the side
(These have been copied of the menu).
A great selection but sadly vegetarians get a raw deal as apart from salads and side dishes all the main meals are meaty.
So what do you think of this little bit of Argentina in the centre of Budapest? I would love to know your thoughts. It's worth a visit and so is the city. Very swanky!
Summary: Great place to eat for meat eaters!
Pampas Argentin Steakhouse