Wednesday 30 August 2023

Budapest Cafe, Carlton, Melbourne

Budapest Cafe is one of those small cafes that looks unassuming from the street but has made an impact online.  Situated in the student quarters of Swanston Street, it offers some innovative and attractive meals.  The design is inspired by the Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Definitely a place for instagrammers and those in search of something different.

We started with drinks from the specials menu.  Sylvia ordered an Agatha: Rose lemonade with mixed berry.  I ordered a Fruit of Eden: Red berry dust, gourmet lychee blush, lime juice and ruby red sparkling.  They came with a large ice cube at the top of the drink in addition to lots of ice blocks.  Sylvia' tasted quite strongly of rose and mine had a slightly sharp edge.  We both enjoyed them but ended up swapping drinks.

Sylvia ordered the Egg Benedict Garden with no bacon.  It was a generous 2 poached eggs and 2 hash browns on a croissant and topped with spicy Hollandaise sauce and microgreens.  On the side was a pile of greens with balsamic vinegar crisp leaves.  Sylvia loved it and found it very filling.  It was her first experience of poached egg.  She enjoyed them with her dish.

I honed in on the unusual Pumpkin Toast.  This was two piece of pumpkin toast slathered with lots of Greek yoghurt/hummus (I tasted mostly yoghurt) and topped with roasted pumpkin, nuts (pistachios?), a good drizzle of caramel sauce, and a micro salad.  Pumpkin and caramel sauce in a savoury dish sounds odd but it worked really well.  There was also a nice hint of smoky flavour, which may have been the red dust on the meal.  I would have preferred a little less yoghurt and more roasted pumpkin but it was a very satisfying dish.  I was glad I chose this over the avocado smash!

We shared a Strawberry Croffle for dessert from the specials menu.  The croffle - a croissant crossed with a waffle - came with generous serves of good strawberry jam and cream.  There was possibly more cream than croffle - a bit much for me but Sylvia loved it.  The cream was topped with strawberry dust, fresh strawberries and a strawberry syrup.  The jam and cream on the croffle were delicious but I wished there were more of the chopped strawberries on top.

The award-winning design by Baisol Designs feels a like a 1960s futuristic space with arches and stairs to nowhere.  My photos don't do the warm terracotta hues justice.  The waiters wear what I can only describe as beige lab coats but looked more warehouse than laboratory.  On the back they read "Lobby Boy" - a reference to the Grand Budapest Hotel. There were lots of other customers - quite a few students - and the serve was friendly and attentive. It wasn't a cheap meal at $85.80 but we were very happy with our lunch.

Budapest Cafe
498 Swanston Street, Carlton, Melbourne
Open daily from 9am - 3.30pm

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