By definition, Romanian food is rich and hearty, with an unmistakable homemade feel. However, as of late, chefs in restaurants around the country are exploring new ways to be creative with traditional flavours that the cuisine is famous for. Whether they offer reinterpretations of classic dishes or are experimenting with the finest local ingredients, many restaurants in Bucharest have made it their mission to bring Romanian cuisine into the fine dining world. Here are seven restaurants that are doing it best.
Zexe aims to redefine Romanian cuisine by adapting it to an increasingly curious and demanding audience. What makes it even more impressive is that it does so with skill and grace. Here you will be greeted by fresh renditions of all the classic Romanian dishes, such as sarmale (cabbage rolls), salads, soups and popular desserts with twists. For instance, their version of sarmale is made with wild boar meat using an ancient recipe. However, dessert is where Zexe has been most innovative, so make sure to check out the scrumptious selection.
While focusing on contemporary cuisine, The Artist, located on Bucharest’s Calea Victoriei, is the place to try highly original takes on classic Romanian dishes. Try their Mangaliță pork aspic, which elevates a classic winter dish served at Christmas by giving it a modern, refined touch. For dessert, chose between the Cozonac mousse, which delivers familiar flavours from the rich Christmas cake in a novel texture, or the Vișinată parfait, inspired by a delicious, dark red, sour cherry liquor that is often homemade.
Attic Lab Bucharest
The personal playground of Romanian chef Adi Hădean, Attic Lab Bucharest sets guests up for a highly customised and exclusive experience overlooking the city. Cooking with the same ease for Romanian dishes as international ones, the chef makes sure every visit to his rooftop is memorable. As this is not a typical restaurant, in order to make sure you get on the guest list, contact the team that manages the bookings via the Lab’s Instagram account.
Mahala. The name hearkens back to life in Bucharest’s suburbs in the early days of the city. It is also the name of one of the city’s best restaurants, which takes the task of serving modern Romanian food quite seriously. Mahala brings to the table forgotten ingredients, such as sweetbread paired with veal sauce and cucumber mousse. It also creates new classics with original mixes; for instance, flounder and black truffles from Transylvania. For a truly mouth-watering experience, book an evening at Mahala.
Lacrimi și Sfinți
Lacrimi și Sfinți has built a reputation among food lovers in Bucharest for serving traditional Romanian food while seeking to innovate every dish. Their philosophy revolves around three main concepts: sustainability, tradition and innovation. While building on a solid base of traditional recipes, the restaurant’s chefs innovate by mixing ingredients using modern techniques. For instance, you can have sarmale stuffed not only with pork, but also with a special mix of veal and goose meat, and cooked in Sauvignon Blanc.
Maize – Farm to Table
The chef at Maize – Farm to Table loves to surprise guests by presenting them with tastes they know and love in dishes that have unexpected shapes, textures and colours. Serving only seasonal ingredients sourced locally, Maize aims to reinvent classic Romanian dishes by employing novel cooking techniques and heaps of creativity.
Served under the label ‘New Romanian Cuisine’, Maize will surprise you with dishes like slow roasted cabbage and pork neck drizzled with parsley and fermented cabbage sauce, or the ‘Romanian Burger’ made with Romanian lángos or deep fried dough filled with beef, smoked cascavea cheese from Doftana Valley, sauteed cabbage and mustard sauce. This place will take you on a culinary ride.
Kane Seasonal Bistro
In order to make it to the menu, every dish served at Kane Seasonal Bistro must meet two requirements: First, the ingredients must be sourced from farmers the chef knows personally. Secondly, the produce must be seasonal. By following these requirements, Kane makes sure that its dishes embody the spirit of Romanian ingredients and allow you to feel and taste the seasons on your palate. For a wild, earthy taste, try their mushroom-based dishes, such as ‘pan fried wild mushrooms with garden greens on toast’ or the ‘beef cheek with carrots, boletus mushrooms and marinated onions in Romanian vinegar’. These delightful mushrooms were sourced from the forests of Romania.
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