Although easy to overlook from the outside, from the inside this restaurant is a feast for the eyes: entering from the street, visitors will be greeted by a spacious lounge and bar area, wittily called the "AKA Bar".

It is a bright, wide space, with wide arches adding some structure to the room. The interior and the decor are reduced to the practical and the aesthetically pleasing, very elegant and tidy. The bar with its low table and all kinds of expensive beverages lined up on the wall behind it dominate the front of the room, whilst the lounge area farther away from the entrance catches the eye because of its flower motifs adorning the wall.

From here you enter the much more intimate dining room, which seats around 38 guests in its 100 square metres. Unlike the lounge, the interior of the dining room is almost entirely black and white.

The centre of attention is the open kitchen. Elevated on a pedestal and surrounded by glass walls, it exerts an almost fascinating attraction.

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From coffee shop to fine-dining destination

The interior design of the restaurant reflects much of the personality of its owner, tells us Leora Seboek, who together with her husband, an American, David Seboek, opened the establishment in 2001.

The reason that of all the towns, in all the world, they opened their first own restaurant in the Hungarian capital lies in the significance that Budapest has to them: The international couple met here and fell in love with each other in 1999, and have been partners for life and business ever since.

While David Seboek as a trained baker and confectioner throws his culinary experiences into the mix, Leora, born in Israel, especially adds with her sense of aesthetics, which she acquired during her time as a real estate broker.

Over the years Baraka has been through some significant changes. If you want to, you can compare it to the several lifecycles we went through on our way to adulthood: from its humble childhood as a coffee shop in Magyar utca over its forming years between 2006 and 2013 at the Andrássy Hotel on Budapest's big boulevard of the same name to its present reincarnation in the Palazzo Dorottya near Vörösmarty tér since 2015.


French cuisine meets the spice of Asia

The seasonal changing menu of Baraka incorporates dishes that conceptually and regarding execution are anchored in the far-eastern as well as the French kitchen.

"French cuisine is at the root of all upscale cooking," the couple say. "The Asian cuisine, on the other hand, brings the flavours, the spices and a certain lightness of the culinary creations."

That these creations are always at top levels is guaranteed by a well-rounded culinary team. Great importance is attached to fish and seafood dishes, which you can find in a numerous variety on all of Baraka's menus. Especially if you are looking for dishes with shrimp, mussels or even lobster Baraka is the right place for you.

But, of course, also other classics of the French cuisine such as foie gras have their place amongst the evergreens, which are never missing on the Baraka menu.

If you just cannot decide what to choose with all the mouth-watering options available, you will be delighted by the tasting menu, which offers the opportunity to try even seven different dishes in one sitting.

The individual portions might appear small at first, but they are very substantial and once they add up you might find yourself unbuckling your belt.

A small highlight: at the beginning of each meal, some slices of the bread creations freshly baked by Baraka's very own David Seboek are served alongside a small appetising snack, the amuse-bouche. Especially the Germans, known for their love of bread, are likely to almost swoon over the crispy crust and the moist core of this baked delight.

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In a nutshell

If you are looking for an exclusive restaurant with a luxurious atmosphere or for a place to celebrate a special occasion, Baraka is just the right address. According to David Seboek, the evening mood feels like a „dinner party every night."

And he must know, because he and his wife can be found almost daily buzzing around their restaurant like busy bees. However, they always take the time to chat with their guests.

Therefore it's no surprise that most of Baraka's regulars appreciate just how much they can relax over dinner. The restaurant lets its customers shake off their everyday life and takes them to a world where dinner has become a form of art.

Aesthetics count in the presentation of the food as much as a multi-layered taste and top-notch ingredients. Even if Baraka has not yet been ennobled by the Guide Michelin, it is certainly one of the hot contenders for the next Hungarian star.

Granted, Baraka is in Budapest's top price segment but it's money well invested given the unique dining experience. Because of Baraka's popularity, it is generally recommended to reserve a table in advance.


Why is Baraka named Baraka?

Some might wonder why the owners chose an Arabic name for a French-Asian-style restaurant. And the story behind it is actually quite entertaining. As Leora Seboek recounts, she and her husband did not realise that Baraka was the Arabic word for "blessing" when they chose it. Only when it became apparent that customers were rather hoping for couscous instead of French cuisine, did they realise the implications. But as they were already set on the name, and as Leora adds, also loved that it had very positive meanings in many languages, they did not bother to change it. Furthermore, the Seboeks liked the sound of the word and the fact that it was possible to pronounce for both Hungarians and foreigners alike. However, the anecdotes surrounding people confused or misled by the name are priceless: David Seboek remembers guests who, due to the similarity of their names, even suspected a fan club for former US President Barack Obama.

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Baraka Restaurant

Budapest, District V., Dorottya utca 6

Open Monday to Saturday 6pm to 11pm

Reservations at (+36-1) 200-0817

See www.barakarestaurant.hu

Prices

Starters: HUF 3,900 to 9,900

Main courses: HUF 6,200 to 17,500

Desserts: HUF 3,900 to 4,300

7-course tasting menu: from HUF 27.900

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