Corinthia Hotel Budapest is not one of those luxurious establishments reticent about promoting themselves by naming their famous guests. At the Corinthia a sizeable wall display lists noteworthy visitors, from rock bands to football teams to entertainers to politicians to the titled. How many of them enjoyed the Sunday Brunch?
The hotel opened in 1896 and the roll of names goes back to “Mr Zoltán Kodály” in 1919 (the noted composer, perhaps he created his Kodály Method during his stay), but they are mostly from 2003 onwards when the Corinthia was reopened by new ownership after being extensively refurbished following years of neglect. The Sunday Brunch has been operating for those past 12 years.
Of course, the famous while away from home tend to use room service rather than be ogled and pestered in a public place, but it could be fun to speculate on what might have been if they had popped in for brunch. For instance, walking in through the Corinthia’s sumptuous lobby, the first thing on reaching the Brasserie&Atrium dining area is a four-piece Gypsy band called Csicsó Band. Would the spirit of Yehudi Menuhin (hotel guest: 1964), returning today, cast a critical ear over the violinist? So too the Gipsy Kings (hotel guests: 2006)?
Next up is an open bar, and surely Sean Connery (hotel guest: 2008) would have requested 007’s signature martini cocktail, “shaken, not stirred”? On offer this day though are daiquiris, chili daiquiris, a spicy Bloody Mary and a sparkling rosé. We just know that Mikhail Gorbachev (hotel guest: 2006) would have opted for the vodka-enriched Bloody Mary.
Into the food area, the variety on display is quite overwhelming – fit for a queen, in fact. Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t feature on the Corinthia roll of honour, but a good substitute is found in actress Helen Mirren (hotel guest: 2009) who did an impressive turn as HRH in the 2006 film “The Queen”.
After the welcome by the band and the bar, the dining area is a nicely furnished, nicely lit room with a restful atmosphere for a lazy Sunday Brunch. Tactically sited right inside the door is the patisserie area, so placed because the selection of macarons, mousses, brulés, panna cottas and more is colourful and modern, and thus provides a deliberately attractive introduction to the feast to follow.
Opposite this fine assortment is a live pancake station where a young lady cook produces thin French-style crepes with a wide assortment of condiments, including different chocolates, whipped cream and vanilla sauce. She also presides over a very tempting ice-cream counter.
These selections do their job of creating a good impression before moving into the room proper, though the rest of the offering easily holds its own. Some 15 chefs and cooks have prepared the food and a dozen breakfast staff have helped get the room ready for brunch before ending their shift.
Ten waiters and two hostesses are on hand, plus a giant squirrel called Roy to entertain the children. The kids have their own corner with a playhouse, slide, tunnel, soft toys and two staff to help in creative pursuits.
The Corinthia has 42 Sunday Brunches a year, omitting high summer, and each has a theme, such as Route 66, with an American emphasis; Alpen, with Austrian and Swiss flavours; Big Ben, with British ale, ice tea and gin and tonic; Along the Danube, with German cuisine and beer; Transylvania; Speakeasy; Scottish; Wellness; Grape Harvest and so on.
On the first Sunday each month a region of Hungary is featured, such as the Bushó Brunch, replicating the annual festival in Mohács with masked Busós startling the diners with their noisy antics, including sitting in people’s laps.
When we visited recently the theme was Chili Brunch and among the multitudinous dishes were cucumber salad with chili and yoghurt; chili and mango chicken; vegetable crudité with chili-, guacamole- and red yoghurt dip; chili salmon; chili con carne; chili chocolate creme brulée; and chili and poppy seed profiterole. (And hence the chili daiquiris.)
An Asian corner is supplied by the Corinthia’s Rickshaw Restaurant and its tofu soup with Chinese cabbage and chicken is one of three soups on offer, the others being paprika cream soup and Mexican cream cheese soup with tortilla chips.
Two chefs operate a grill and carvery with beef medallions, chicken breast, pork tenderloin, Bavarian suasage, tilapia, salmon, whole baked pork ribs and beef sirloin Puebla. Further selections such as grilled Victoria lake pike perch and Mexican pork ragout are among the hot items in silver roll-top serving dishes.
Add extensive selections of international cheeses, a smoked fish platter, Italian cold cuts, salads, grilled and pickled vegetables and fruit, and you have the Corinthia’s comprehensive Sunday Brunch.
Some of those other famous guests were Real Madrid and Liverpool football teams (2005 and 2009); musicians Deep Purple (2003), Bill Haley’s Comets (2004), Pink and Motorhead (both 2006) and Snoop Dogg (2007); film stars Geoffrey Rush (2005) and Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu (both 2011); and (the titled) Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (2005) and Sir Derek Jacobi (2010).
Only two names have gone up so far for 2015: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eric Idle. Schwarzenegger was brilliantly described by Australian broadcaster Clive James as “like a condom full of walnuts”, which no doubt came to the actor’s attention, and probably the nice bowlful at the Sunday Brunch would have caught his rueful eye.
No such luck for Monty Python’s Idle, who as Mr Bun insisted he wanted “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam”.
Corinthia Hotel Budapest
Erzsébet körút 43, District VII
Children 6-14 years HUF 4750
Under 6 years HUF 0
Restaurant inquiries: (+36-1) 479-4800