Shawn and I love food. All food. All ethnicities and regions of the world – we love to try different foods. We love food trucks and carts, hole-in-the-wall dives, chain restaurants, fine dining and even convenience store food in Tokyo!
We can be classy when we want and sometimes we would like to visit a place with clean linen, wine, a beautiful presentation and food that is a step above in terms of structure, taste and presentation.
So, I had contacted Laurel Budapest, a fine dining restaurant just 2 blocks from our current AirBnb on the Pest side of Budapest, to see if we could be accommodated – with our toddler. Not all fine dining establishments are appropriate, or even welcoming, for young children so it was wonderful to have Nagy Norina, the Reservations Manager, welcome us happily.
Laurel has a few different options for guests.
For their main restaurant, they have set menus that cater to a variety of diets, such as Vegan and also consider dietary restrictions (gluten or nut allergies anyone?) that are 6 courses.
There is the Wine Bar which is a small Tappas menu with appetizers, main, cold/hot and also a couple desserts. And of course Wine! A beautiful wine selection… not that Shawn and I know anything about wine even though we’ve been to wine tastings many times.
Also, what you don’t see on their website is that they also have a coffee bar and book store.
Upon setting our reservation we were sent an email asking us if we had any food allergies or dietary restrictions. How thoughtful. We have none and replied. I think that any restaurant should do this. Ask all diners upon greeting them if they have any food restrictions. It should be commonplace nowadays. I appreciated the question.
Anywho, the night of our reservation, our 2 year old, Sebastian, had been great and in a pleasant mood most of the day so we were hopeful that he would remain a good listener and sit still during dinner.
He’s a wiggler and roamer and doesn’t do well sitting still for long periods of time. He prefers to eat his food standing or laying or basically any other way than sitting down like a mature adult!
We walked the 5 minutes to Laurel and were met by Nagy Norina. She took our coats and led us to our table. What was awesome for us, with a toddler, was that we were the first reservation of the night at 6pm. Most people don’t eat dinner that early in Europe and with a Toddler, we are all about early! We also don’t like to annoy other diners, especially in a fine dining restaurant. It’s one thing if we are in a McDonalds or a TGIFriday’s to have a screaming Toddler but a complete other, IMO, at a place where you go for a civilized meal and drinks.
The place was beautiful inside.
We chose a seat at the teal velvet booth so we could lock in our son and hope to keep him contained. He was being great so far. Saying Hi to Nagy and our waiter, Shomee.
Shomee chatted with us about the menu and asked us about wines. We told him, quite honestly, that we truly know nothing about wine and usually just leave it up to our waiter to choose something appropriate based on what we ordered. That’s how we roll.
We selected a few items from the menu that we wanted to try and that we thought Sebastian might enjoy. From the Wine Bar menu We ordered the sourdough bread, Cheese plate, Mangalica ham and the olive selection. Shomee brought us two bottles of wine and explained each and poured us the first lighter red wine to go with our selection and would serve the more volcanic bottle of wine a bit later.
Basically, we spent the entire night chatting with Shomee. It was a Thursday night and we happened to be the first and only customers that first hour, so we had the pleasure of getting to know him and of his travels working on Cruise ships for most of his adult life. We are very well traveled and so is he so we also had a lot of fun stories to share. It’s always great when you have fantastic service at a restaurant but we truly love a good conversation with our waiters, and even other patrons, more.
After our food arrived we still chatted the entire time. Sebatian was being really good…but getting restless. He loved the Olives and bread but wasn’t feeling anything else because, well…Toddler. Normally he loves ham and nuts but not tonight of course. So, I caved and gave him a lollypop and my iPhone to watch his YouTube programs so Shawn and I could pretend, for 10 minutes, that we are on a date – alone.
The food was delicious and I must say that I loved the Capers, Ham and the Marcona Almonds. Shawn loved the Ham and Cheeses but everything was excellent and top quality. We also really enjoyed Shomee’s wine picks. They were delicious.
At one point, Sebastian insisted that he had to have some of my Juice (wine) and was about to have a tantrum so, knowing that he’d hate it I gave him the tiniest sip… The look of disgust on his face was priceless and just what I was hoping for and then he asked for water and left me to drink my wine in peace.
Next up was Dessert. We ordered a banana ice cream for Sebastian and then let Shomee pick something else for us to try. We are adventurous.
Then, Sebastian gave his opinion on the dessert, which he devoured. #thumbsup
More patrons arrived just before we ordered dessert and that too is when Sebastian started sliding under the table and becoming a bit wild. After dessert we pretty much decided to head out instead of having some after dinner coffee.
Sebastian gave high fives to Shomee and even a hug and we now gained a friend and a new favorite Tappas place in Budapest. If you have the opportunity to visit Budapest, please check out Laurel Budapest. It’s in a really fun area of Pest. Make reservations on their website. They all speak English as well as Hungarian so don’t worry about not being able to communicate with them.