I needed to attend a meeting last Friday in Budapest, so I flew over on Thursday morning to do some sightseeing. I stayed in a very conveniently located Starlight Suiten Hotel on Merleq utca, unpacked and headed to town. I had been to Budapest before, but that was dozen years earlier, so it was nice to wander the streets again - it's a rather grand city. And just like Vienna, Budapest is famed for its cafe culture, so I headed to one of the heavy-weights, Café Gerbeaud in Inner Pest.
The place is indeed opulent, as Rick Rogers states in his Kaffeehaus - all golden wall decorations, heavy curtains and fancy chandeliers. There were four large salons, some smoking, some non-smoking, each packed with locals and tourists alike (Gerbeaud can sit up to 330 guests in its salons, and another 300 on its open-air terraces, so we're talking about a huge café here!). As it was 4pm by that time, I decided to have both coffee and my dinner, so I ordered a home-made goose liver terrine with Tokaj wine, roasted endives and walnut dressing (above) to start with, and the famous Hungarian cake, Dobos Torte (below), to finish. The goose liver terrine was very nice - I liked the sweet Tokaj dressing that it came with, as well as the light-textured small brioches. The portion was too large to my liking, however - goose liver is quite a mouthful to eat, so I could only finish two slices (and I was hungry, believe me!).
But the cake? Well, I was expecting something much more impressive. The cake sure looks grand - it consists of five thin discs of vanilla sponge cake, layered with chocolate buttercream icing. The cake is then covered with wedges of caramel-glazed cake. Beautiful! My favourite bit was the caramel-coated top layer. Other than that I thought the cake was too sweet, too rich and utterly non-interesting. I'll choose a slice of moist Estonian layered honey cake any time :)
But seriously, now. Was I disappointed because the Dobos Cake as such isn't to my liking? Or was the chief konditormeister at Café Gerbeaud not doing the job properly that day? Unlikely, considering that their website mentions Dobos Cake as one of their specialties, and Rick Rogers claims that "In Hungary, the name Gerbeaud is so famous as a sign of quality in baking that it is worth millions". I will still pop by in Café Gerbeaud next time I'm in town - the atmosphere was very much to my liking, their boozy María Teresa coffee excellent, and I didn't even get to sample their pretty handmade bonbons - but I'll opt for Esterházy Slice or Gerbeaud Slice instead.
However, if somebody could tell me where to get the best Dobos Cake in Budapest, I'd appreciate that. I may be back soon.
Vörösmarty tér 7.