It is ever so lovely to experience a new national cuisine with someone who has actually had some experience living in the country in question. Kara has been wanting to take me to a Hungarian restaurant for ages now, having lived herself in Hungary for a year and feeling nostalgic for some proper Hungarian cooking. I, who had never experienced Hungarian food, was most appreciative to be in the company of someone who not only speaks decent Hungarian and could explain to me all the terms used in the menu, but also had the foresight to roll by a European bottleshop on the way to the restaurant and pick up a bottle of fine Hungarian red for us to enjoy. Kara is the best, you guys.
The fit-out of The Hungarian can only be described as SUPER CUTE. There is so much gingham. There’s gingham tablecloths, gingham curtains, it’s bursting with the stuff. If you lured a superhero whose kryptonite was gingham into this place, you’d be shooting lasers at the UN building unhindered for hours. Combine this with a very informative, funny and tongue-in-cheek menu (the vegetarian section starts with the definition “Vegetarian, adj. Means: not containing meat. Does NOT mean ‘bland'”), and I instantly felt very comfortable.
We both ordered the Veganoff for our main meal, a vegetarian version of beef stroganoff with the stew part comprised of broccoli, peas and mushrooms, served with nokedli, or fried noodles. This was proper delicious stodge food, the kind to put meat on your bones. The gravy that held everything together was good and savoury (honestly, paprika is a miracle of a thing, I’d throw it over all meals if I could), and I really enjoyed the texture of the nokedli, they were a bit softer than the al dente bite we normally expect for pasta or noodles.
We also grabbed some side dishes to accompany the Veganoff. I went with the Hungarian cucumber salad – thinly sliced continental cucumbers doused in a sweet and sour vinegar with crushed garlic and a sprinkling of paprika. It was all sour, crisp and crunchy, a good acidic counter-note to the comforting nature of the Veganoff. Kara couldn’t not experience the “No Sex After This” salad, which was made out of super pickled sauerkraut, gherkins and peppers in Magyar vinegar. It was by all accounts delicious, and just as stinky as promised!
Kara was adamant that we just had to order some of the sweet crepes for dessert. She went down the super traditional route and went for some filled with sweet cream cheese, which are known as Túrós. I had cinnamon and plum, which were filled with a paste that had been made out of stewed plums, mixed with cinnamon and probably also some granulated sugar. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this was a very simple dessert, but quite satisfying. Kara said that although the crepes were not quite the same as the ones she’d had in Hungary, they were certainly the best she’d discovered in Australia.
The Hungarian was a lot of fun to experience, and provided a great introduction to a cuisine I wasn’t previously familiar with. Make sure you go visiting between Thursday and Sunday to sample two veggie dishes that were unavailable to us on the Wednesday we went: crumbed fried cheese and mushrooms! My heart just did a backflip of pure cholesterol panic typing out those words. Someone please go sample them and tell me what they’re like.
362 Bridge Road, Richmond