As a youth the writings of the Marquis de Sade were something I probably had no business being exposed to. I remember forging a mail order document assuring a bookstore in some far flung part of the USA like San Francisco or Kansas City that I was, indeed 18 years of age and had plenty business reading 120 Days of Sodom plus collected short stories.
What an eye opener that was.
Since then I’ve had a real affinity for the good Marquis. So during an afternoons traipse across beautiful downtown Pest, when suddenly I spy Marquis de Salade, I decide I’m in need of a break from my multi-mile forced hike so I adjourn to the catacombs that this eating establishment calls home.
It’s expensive so I limit my ordering to shepherd’s salad [pastor salata] and lamb soup [dusbare]. The subterranean series of dining rooms is eerily atmospheric. Scary would be a better word. The air is dead, the tiny candle lighted room I’m ensconced in feels as though it might’ve been a tomb at some point.
I fight the urge to bolt up the stairs and onto the street as the music of Peggy Lee suddenly comes on. I’m in a tomb below a street in Budapest Hungary about to eat Azerbaijani food and Peggy Lee’s providing the soundtrack.
Suddenly everything seems just fine.
I wish the salad was as good as the music. I hate pitted olives. So when my shepherds salad, which most folks would recognize as being Greek, at least in theme, arrives with pitted black olives I immediately fall into a depression. The simple pleasure of suckling the pit is one that will not be afforded to me on this day. Nonetheless I tuck in. The plate is a melange of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, red bell peppers and purple onions.
When the name of your restaurant is …Salade shouldn’t the salade be remarkable? This one is not. The dressing is the normal pair of oil and vinegar bottles. Nothing new or noteworthy to report there. I eat half my salad and wait for my soup.
It almost saves the day. Tiny flour dumplings have been stuffed with minced lamb and onions then simmered in a delicious lamb broth til fall apart tender. Something tells me the chef has some Uighur lineage as this is Turkic cuisine at it’s finest. The only fall note is there is a considerable amount of grit in the broth. No matter, this is one delicious soup.
Fats Waller comes on as I finish my meal and lay back on the colorful divan I’ve been supping on. I’m the only diner in the restaurant and the server is leaving well enough alone which I’m grateful for. I actually lightly snooze for a bit as my meal settles. When I awake Louis Armstrong is playing and my server is standing about 15 feet away looking at me puzzledly.
I motion for the check, pay and make my way up the stairs onto the street as a light mist begins to fall. It feels good to have the bluster of stormy weather in my face after an afternoon spent beneath the streets of Budapest.
1065 Budapest, Hajos utca 43
+36 1 302 40 86
11am – 12am (every day)
About the Stars:
4 **** Extraordinary, life changing
3 *** Excellent
2 * Very good
1 * Good
0 * Mediocre to Acceptable
Quality, price, service and ambiance are all taken into account when rating.