Marvin Gauci is not an average guy; he is not even 40 years old, and he has already created a preeminent gastro empire in Malta. He leads four top-category restaurants, as well as an exclusive pop-up dinner series held in the air. Now for the first time he created something truly sophisticated outside Malta as well, and launched a Mediterranean fine-dining restaurant, Caviar & Bull, in a wing of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest. The upscale eatery opened three months ago, and the feedback is already excellent, while their cuisine is definitely worthy of attention.
We arrive at the Corinthia Hotel in the evening, and quickly find Caviar & Bull in the place of the former Szamos Salon. This have caused a few misunderstandings in the past, as the older generation and former classmates often agreed to meet each other at Szamos like in the old times, even though it is not there anymore. At Caviar & Bull however, this does not cause any issue, as they maintain a table especially for these occasions in order not to disappoint anyone. This is a nice and friendly gesture, and this laid-back attitude is characteristic of this eatery, even though guests are welcomed by luxury and sophisticated elegance when stepping inside.
The mastermind behind this eatery is Marvin Gauci from Malta – if we asked any gastro enthusiasts from Malta, they would surely know his name. He is the star chef of the island, as anytime he opens a new restaurant it is bound to be successful, whether it is Asian-influenced or Mediterranean. He came to Budapest through the Corinthia Hotel, as Caviar & Bull’s “brother restaurant” can be connected to one of the locations of this hotel chain, too. An opportunity emerged when this unit in the Corinthia became free, and Marvin decided to seize it. The choice of the name refers to a love of seafood and the gastronomy of the “land”. The logo also aims to merge these two elements as well, and we really like it.
The guest area is high-class, whether we look at the materials or at the tiniest details. It is enhanced with a beautiful bar, where they pay great attention to both mixology and the assortment of fine wines. For instance, the wine list includes several highly elegant and special items.
Let’s take a look at Caviar & Bull’s gastro concept: they lead a laid-back and bohemian Mediterranean cuisine in a fine-dining environment. Furthermore, they also like “sharing”, which means that when, for instance, a couple orders a degustation menu, the courses come served on one plate with two extra plates on the side in order to enable them to enjoy the intimacy of sharing a meal. We like it, but if you prefer to follow Joey Tribbiani’s rules, do not be surprised here.
The menu is lengthy and not simple, just as we expected from a Mediterranean eatery. Sergi Huerga Marin let his fantasy unwind, aiming to present the flavors of the Mediterranean Sea. They even did some “magic” during our visit, and this is how both the wagyu (5,200 HUF) and the salmon carpaccio (4,900 HUF) came served with smoke kept under a glass bell and with attentive pairings. They professionally create a sweet-savory-bitter-sour harmony of flavors in their meals. Their goose liver (5,600 HUF) course comes with walnut and blueberry jam, roasted brioche, Tokaji Aszú (a Hungarian wine), balsamic vinegar caviar, and pear and apple purée. Many of these meals are also served in the restaurant in Malta, however, Caviar & Bull shoots towards a Michelin star, hence they have to pay attention to using local ingredients, too. Therefore, we find Hungarian components in several courses. Right after the opening it seems brave to say that they aim for the most prestigious gastronomical prize after charming their guests, but truth be told we are not too surprised by the presence of this competitive spirit.
We also tasted courses like giant shrimp from Malta in ancient tempura (5,100 HUF), or Marvin’s lobster “popcorn” that is a 250-gram half lobster in a surprising shape (8,900 HUF). Our waiter happily advised us to eat these meals with our hands instead of trying to get by with a knife and fork. Even Marvin said the same, who does not rest for a minute, but keeps crisscrossing between the tables; if he sees that someone is interested, he is happy to sit with them for a while, telling them about the restaurant and the meals, or even asking these guests about their experiences… whether they are Budapest residents, or from as far away as Hong Kong.
At Caviar & Bull we even sat at the chef’s table; we could take a seat in the sizeable kitchen, taking a sneak peek behind the scenes. We quietly reveal that it is possible to take a glimpse inside the kitchen even when we do not come for a dinner like this.
This opening is not only significant because Mediterranean meals are served amid a fine-dining atmosphere, but also because due to a foreign influence they have a completely different mindset, and dare to dream big, shooting for the stars.
Source: We love Budapest