When my date said we were going Greek (Görög) in a tourist area, I could not help but think, “that idea can be a real pain in the ass.”

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But it turns out that, jokes aside, Dionyos is not only affordable, but quite good at what they do. From the food to the atmosphere and the service, DIONYSOS is quite possibly one of the best places I have had Greek outside of Athens. And as far as that sentiment goes, it offers better food than most of the tavernas I visited in Greece, too.

One would be forgiven for assuming that Dionysos will be a costly experience. As this little gem is just a block away from Váci Utca at Belgrád rakpart 16, there is definitely a chance for them to gouge you like a tourist joint. They definitely do not. The food here is reasonably priced, well presented and cooked perfectly.

It is recommended that one seek a reservation on weekends, but we were coming in on a Wednesday night, and decided to drop in. We were seated immediately and the waiter was prompt with some menus but did not push (the opposite being common elsewhere, it seems) as we chatted a bit about our day. He did drop by with some delicious and very fresh rolls as well as water. Kudos on a Mediterranean approach to service: laid-back but efficient. When we finally ordered, he was as relaxed as we were.

My date and I went in very different directions for our meals. Whereas my charming companion chose to order Faki, a delicious Greek lentil soup (710 HUF), and Dolmades, spicy rice wrapped in grape leaf (730), I went with a meat dish. The Paidakia, lamb ribs served with oven-baked potatoes (3.880 HUF), turned out to be an excellent choice.

On the suggestion of the waiter, I ordered a glass of Korinthia (a dry red wine at 560-1dl). It paired well with my lamb ribs, indeed. My companion demurred on the wine. She simply does not enjoy a drink too often, whether appropriate to her cuisine or not. She did order some tea later on.

My lady friend’s soup and the Dolmades arrived first, and she insisted I try her dish. The soup was just salty enough, with excellently rich tomato flavors and spices that were not overbearing but definitely presented themselves. The Dolmades was a little bolder, with the initial taste of the leaves giving way to the flavorful and perfectly cooked rice mixture inside until the two flavors mingled.

I would be content with one of the latter and a couple sips of the former if I were priming my palate for a meal. Precisely when I had decided this was the case, my ribs arrived. The ribs were more than wellpresented, and were garnished with a variety of both fresh and roasted vegetables. Topped with cilantro sprigs and arranged artfully, the plate definitely beckoned. And, although I usually complain that corn is an American food item, the small, roasted cob did not seem as out of place next to the similarly roasted tomatoes, pepper and onions arrayed about my plate.

I took one of the three lightly-spiced and flame-cooked ribs and bit into it. The taste was delicate, the meat was moist but not juicy, and the finish on the surface was inviting to the palate. I continued to eat, sharing some with my companion, who insisted on only a nibble of meat in her meal. She did, however, quite approve of that solitary bite. The vegetables were excellent compliments to the lamb, and the potatoes served well to clean the palate between each rib and whatever combination of vegetables I had tried with them. Unlike many other oven potatoes i have had, these were both done and tender, with no trace of the hot plate or steam table to be found. This is either a matter of fresh preparation or a brisk business, both of which were in evidence on the evening of our repast.

It was a reluctant decision to not complete my meal, but the portions were such that, coupled with the bread and the Dolmades, I was quite sated. The portions were quite generous, and over half of my potatoes remained to take home with the corn and the ribs (including the bones, a gift for a friend’s cats). The check came quickly and the smile was genuine when we praised the waiter on the meal. I could not help but buy a few treats for later on the way out, and I will say the pastries here are worth your forints.

– Dionyos, Reservations Recommended. Home Delivery Available. Belgrád rakpart 16, District 5 Budapest +36 (1) 318-1222, www.dionysos.hu

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