I know now what it feels like to be an undercover inspector for the Michelin guide. In the last couple of weeks I have traversed Europe to dine at restaurants that feature in the prestigious guide.
Well, more accurately, I happen to have been to a couple of classy eateries in Britain and Hungary in the past fortnight. A week ago I was at the Domino Room at London’s Café Royal and on Tuesday I ate at Onyx in Budapest.
The Michelin guide awarded its very first star to a restaurant back in 1926. Listings things such as petrol stations and hotels, the guide was intended to be useful for motorists. Hence the connection with Michelin tyres.
Initially the guide covered just France, but over the years it expanded its coverage to other countries. The UK had to wait until 1974 for its first edition, and Hungary received its first Michelin star in 2008.
In 2011, Onyx was the third restaurant in Hungary to gain a star.
I knew we were in for a treat as soon as we stepped inside the restaurant. With a neo-baroque interior and tables set far apart from each other, the setting is both stylish and sumptuous.
We opted for the international tasting menu with a wine pairing. Highlights included sturgeon caviar with cauliflower and browned butter and marinated tuna with oxtail soup and sweet onion. The wagyu beef with buttered noodles and pickled paprika (pictured) proved the standout of the eight-course menu.
The meal certainly ranks among the best I have had.
“Listing things such as petrol stations and hotels, the Michelin guide was intended to be useful for motorists”
Landing a star was a big deal for Onyx, as it is for any restaurant. Losing one can be worse, it seems. In 2003, French chef Bernard Loiseau shot himself amid rumours that his La Côte d’Or was about to be downgraded.
I enjoy good food, but that really is taking the Michelin guide way too seriously.