Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Araz Restaurant

Apparently Araz means gold leaf dangling from the chandeliers, because if you enter the dining room of the Araz restaurant in the Zara Continental Hotel, you will see it blowing in the breeze of the air conditioning. I was waiting for a piece to float down like an autumn leaf, into my place setting, it didn't. Since it would have no cash value anyway, it was no loss.

With Ron gone I thought I would test new waters and sample some restaurants I had not been to before. Generally, I make it a habit not to eat in or review hotel restaurants, feeling they are more of a tourism trap than for world at large. However, I pass by this restaurant often as I walk to the university; my gastronomic curiosity was stimulated by the menu offering Hungarian/French cuisine while my senses were stimulated by the decor. 

The gold dangles are not showing in this picture.
The university provides us with restaurant coupons each month and Araz accepts them. Win-win! Because of the ambiance, I did change from my ratty shorts to black jeans, but I was still hot and scruffy looking. The staff treated me like I was just as special as their best guest. One waiter took my beer order, though he did sniffle when I asked what was on tap. Another brought bread with a plate upon which he poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar. On a second plate was a fancy tablespoon with a dab of something I could not understand when he told me, but it tasted like hummus. 

For an entree, I chose this. Let me backtrack a minute. Their menus outside have all of these choices that range from 1,500 Ft on up and look scrumptious, but none were to be seen when I sat down. They are the lunch time specials. 

When my duck arrived, I started making plans to pick up a pizza across the street on my way home. It was a pleasant surprise to feel fully satiated at the end of the meal. However, to my surprise, I had forgotten what was supposed to be served with the duck, so the brownish pond of cream that the duck was sitting on was neither strongly identifiable as chestnut nor hazelnut, but chestnut it had to be as the sauce on the side had a definite hazelnutty nuance to it. I was quite pleased with the flavors and textures even if they did not stand up and shout CHESTNUT. 
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