This Historic Budapest Restaurant Is a Music Lover's Dream
Inside the Aria Hotel Budapest, part of the Library Hotel Collection, a whimsical, music-filled world awaits. No, really, every small detail of the property is inspired by music. The hotel's jazz wing, for instance, has musician-themed rooms that pay homage to B.B. King, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis, and upon checking in, guests are interviewed by the hotel’s resident music director, who then curates a personalized playlist for you to blast in-room. Not to worry; turn up the volume and sing along in the shower, as rooms are padded with special material to ensure neighbors aren’t pounding on your door or calling the police to file a noise complaint.
The hotel's Stradivari Restaurant, the design of which is inspired by the structure and sound of a violin, promises a music-filled dinner. Named after famous 17th century violin builder Antonio Stradivari and his Stradivarius instrument manufactory, the restaurant evokes the meticulous craftsmanship of a violin.
The most visual point of the restaurant is an 8-meter long water wall that “symbolizes the perpetual movement of music flowing from the stage,” says music director Kornél Magyar. “Music is the most predominant at this point, as if our guests were sitting in a small concert hall, where the protagonist on stage is the kitchen itself. The interior design is not necessarily inspired only by the shape of the violin—it is rather an additional element of the entire upscale, harmonious, theatric atmosphere. While sitting at their tables, our guests may enjoy the hustle and bustle of the hotel’s open kitchen, but they may also have a more private space for a dinner for two.”
Music doesn’t stop at Stradivari’s stunning interior. When the restaurant first opened, goat cheese was even sourced from goats that listened to jazz music. (Seriously.) The menu, composed by Stradivari’s chef Gergely Kövér and Magyar, is the perfect harmony of fine dining and music, featuring dishes inspired by opera, classical, jazz and contemporary music. “Improvisation meets composition in the flavors, where the menu is fusing the best Hungarian culinary traditions with a twist towards modern service,” says Kövér.
Dishes come with quotations from the musician who inspired it, whether it be Mozart, Miles Davis or “some other immortal genius,” he says. “A little background story attached to it is revealed by the server when taking the order from the guest,” he continues. “If we are talking about music-inspired classic courses, then delicacies like trout (Schubert's legendary fish), tournedos Rossini steak with foie gras and mushroom slices—or the Opera cake—are inevitable props of a musician chef's inventory. Besides these, we present the favorite Cajun chicken by Miles Davis, and one of the most popular Hungarian pastries, the Rigójancsi, which was invented by a famous Gypsy fiddler a hundred years ago, who actually seduced the American wife of a Belgian multimillionaire.”
Whenever possible, Kövér and Magyar push the boundaries of music, art and history, connecting music genres, performing artists and their favorite foods to Stradivari’s intriguing menu. “It was a fun experience to explore jazz in cuisine,” Kövér says. “The jazz bars and famous jazz figures gave us a lot of insight."
Several staff members, including servers, bartenders and chefs, are practicing musicians, too. “Our daily wine and cheese reception from 4 to 6 p.m. is a feast for music aficionados who are keen on listening to live music while enjoying the best of Hungary's wine regions,” says Kövér. “And you never know when the servers pouring wine into your glass will end up singing some of your favorite covers in our courtyard lobby."