REVIEW: Exploring the Unique Flavours of Michelin-Starred Essencia, Budapest

Last Updated on May 2, 2023 by Goya

A stone’s throw away from St. Stephen’s Basilica, on a busy street in downtown Budapest, behind glass doors awaits a hidden oasis named Essencia Budapest, or Essência Restaurant-Tiago & Éva, ready to tell you a culinary love story through a beautiful mix of Portuguese and Hungarian cuisine.

From the menu to the open kitchen and friendly service, being in Essência is like hanging out with a close friend, ready to tell you all about how they met, how this place came together and how, through their shared love of good food, created something truly unique which was eventually crowned with a Michelin star.

Can’t get enough of the stars? Check out these Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest and beyond!

Essencia Budapest Menu

Here in Essencia Restaurant Budapest, there are three tasting menus to choose from: a 6-course menu called 17th May, and two 5-course menus called Origens and Here at Home. Each of these also comes with a non-alcoholic pairing or wine pairing.

We opted for the first one, the 17th May Tasting Menu, with wine pairing.


Before the tasting menu, come two delicate and equally delicious amuse-bouches that have been created with the same care and attention to detail as every other dish — As expected from a tasting menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

From playful morsels to complex and sophisticated flavour combinations, the amuses-bouches at Essencia Budapest are a true display of the chef’s creativity and passion:

Essencia Budapest: Cod amuse-bouche at Essencia Restaurant [part of the tasting menu]
Kicking it off with some cod
Essencia Budapest: Pumpkin and chestnut amuse-bouche at Essencia Restaurant [part of the tasting menu]
A divine little amuse-bouche with pumpkin and chestnut flavours

17th May Tasting Menu

After the amuse-bouches, it is time for one of Essencia Budapest’s signature tasting menus, where each course is crafted to bring Tiago & Éva’s childhood flavours back with a modern twist, creating an idyllic way of savouring timeless recipes.

  • Duck liver terrine, red cabbage, and green apple – Paired, rather unusually, not with a Tokaji, but a dry white that we absolutely adored!
  • Octopus, beluga lentils, roasted peppers
  • Jerusalem artichoke soup, cottage cheese (with an option to add Oscietra Caviar for 2100 HUF) – One of the best dishes of the night!
  • Cod “à Brás” way or Quail, buckwheat, celeriac – These two were rather divisive. Those who had cod said they preferred the quail and those who had quail said they preferred the cod. Luckily, nothing a little plate swap couldn’t fix 🙂 If you love buckwheat and earthy flavours, definitely go for the quail!
  • Mangalica, “Feijoada Transmontana” beans ragout or Beef, dumpling, “pörkölt” sauce – It seems we were too busy enjoying the Mangalica, a Hungarian breed of domestic pig, that we forgot to take a picture. But I have to say it was definitely the better one of the two options and one of the best dishes of the night!
  • “Torta de Laranja”, seaweed, blood orange – So light, fresh and tasty, I could probably eat five of these!
Duck liver terrine, red cabbage, green apple at Essencia Budapest
Duck liver terrine, red cabbage, green apple
Octopus, beluga lentils, roasted peppers at Essencia Budapest
Octopus, beluga lentils, roasted peppers
Jerusalem artichoke soup, cottage cheese with Oscietra Caviar at Essencia Budapest
Jerusalem artichoke soup, cottage cheese with Oscietra Caviar
Quail, buckwheat, celeriac at Essencia Budapest
Quail, buckwheat, celeriac
Cod "à Brás" way at Essencia Budapest
Cod “à Brás” way
Beef, dumpling, "pörkölt" sauce at Essencia Budapest
Beef, dumpling, “pörkölt” sauce
A delightful little palate cleanser granita at Essencia Budapest
A delightful little palate cleanser granita before the dessert
"Torta de Laranja", Seaweed, Blood Orange at Essencia Budapest
“Torta de Laranja”, Seaweed, Blood Orange


If you have a sweet tooth, there’s no better way to cap off a gastronomic journey than with Essencia’s dessert course, which combines the best of Portuguese and Hungarian flavours to bring you a decadent and unique culinary masterpiece.

From traditional pastel de nata to innovative reinterpretations of Hungarian sweets, Essencia’s dessert menu is filled with crowdpleasers that will have you feeling satisfied and delighted. Here, you can indulge in the perfect balance of sweet and savoury, while enjoying the elegant ambience of this Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest.

Dessert at Essencia Budapest [part of Essencia Budapest's tasting menu]
Pastel de nata at Essencia Budapest [part of Essencia Budapest's tasting menu]
Of course, no Portuguese dining experience would be complete without Pastel de nata!

Prices at Essencia Budapest

The 6-course tasting menu, including the amuse-bouches and chef’s treats at the end (and some for the road as well!), is priced at 29 900 HUF per person. You can of course choose to opt for non-alcoholic pairing (37 200 HUF), or, like us, go for the wine pairing option (44 900 HUF).

Update (Apr-2023)
Since the initial authoring of this post, the prices seem to have gone up to 46 900 HUF for 6 course Tasting Menu, which, if accompanied by non-alcoholic pairing is 58 900 HUF, with wine pairing is 68 900 HUF and with international wine pairing is 72 900 HUF.

The extras, such as the Oscietra caviar and the cheese platter, also appear to be priced at 4 200 HUF now.

The Verdict: Essencia Budapest

While the food was at times divisive, there was one thing that our party of four agreed on and that was how spot-on was the wine pairing — It was absolutely fantastic! Usually, when they say “Normally, this is paired with X, but here we chose Y”, it is simply never as good as the tried-and-tested combination… but in this case, we were pleasantly surprised at each unusual pairing and we enjoyed the entire selection thoroughly.

The sommelier, and the entire team of hosts, were also very knowledgeable, friendly and polite, which truly added to the experience.

Overall, we have had a fabulous time in Essencia Budapest, or formally Essência Restaurant-Tiago & Éva, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a different take on Hungarian cuisine or a unique fusion of flavours while in Budapest.

Jo étvágyat!


Pin: Essencia Budapest
Pin: Essencia Budapest

Essência Restaurant – Tiago & Éva Photos by: Tom Dymond © –

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