Michelin has yet to rank any restaurants in Bucharest, and in keeping with the company’s Eastern Europe coverage, it’s behind the times. A fine-dining scene has begun to blossom in Romania’s capital. Chefs are finally taking full advantage of the country’s many blessings: superb local produce, fresh fish from its Black Sea coast and Carpathian rivers, impressive wines made from indigenous and international grape varieties and rich culinary traditions influenced by the Ottomans, Hungarians, Romani and Saxons, among others. I regretted staying only two nights, which prevented us from trying all the restaurants I would have liked, notably Noua (and I wouldn’t have minded re-reviewing The Artist). This time, I focused on restaurants offering only (or mostly) Romanian dishes, but Bucharest also has commendable options serving French, Italian, Turkish and various other cuisines.
The most acclaimed restaurant in Bucharest, sleek Kaiamo occupies the ground floor of a glass tower well north of the old center. Seated at either a counter facing the open kitchen or bare-wood tables, guests can opt for nine, 11, 15 or 20 courses. We “arrived too late to order 20,” according to the forthright hostess, and so we opted for 11. The Romanian-Mediterranean-Asian fusion dishes exhibit a great sense of fun and are sometimes influenced by star London chef Ollie Dabbous, as in a “Thank You Ollie” course of sea bass topped with caviar in creamy tarama (cured roe) sauce with lovage oil. Very tasty, but I found the Romanian-inspired dishes more interesting. The charming “Romanian taco” of veal stew with mustard in a crispy polenta shell was a great bite, for example, and the complex “Romanian childhood breakfast” of a charcoal-coated soft-boiled egg with spinach and pungent cheese sauce was heaven with a refined local Chardonnay. Pacing sometimes lagged — the dinner took more than three hours — but the superb Romanian wines and the often-Romanian cuisine were worth the time investment. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Strada Ermil Pangrati 30A. Tel. (40) 722-202-204