Love for the Locals: Budapest

I'm down to my last week and a half in London, ON and I'm trying to visit all the local eateries I possibly can before I take off, between completing my final assignments and applying for jobs.

Today, two of my classmates, Laura and Doris joined me in visiting Budapest Restaurant, a local Hungarian restaurant that has been around for over 55 years. A few weeks ago, one of my professors told us a story about how he went to this restaurant, Marika, who has been running the show this whole time, told him and his friends to help themselves in the kitchen as she was too busy to serve them. He said that it was one of the best meals he's ever had, and when I saw that it was right next to Zen Gardens, which I dined at last week, I knew I just had to try it.

I unlocked 3 achievements with this visit:
1) Visit a Londonlicious restaurant
London has a food festival called Londonlicious, which is similar to Downtown Dining Week in Edmonton where you can get fixed 3-course lunch for $15 or dinner for $25 at some of the nicer restaurants in the city.

2) Visit a new, local restaurant I hadn't been to yet
After hearing from my professor and a number of my friends about this place, I just had to try it. I have an affinity for local restaurants that have been around for a long time and managed to sustain a reputation. And potatoes. They had a lot of potato things. 

3) Eat perogies
The perogies thing started earlier in May when Laura, Doris, and I went in search of perogies in London, and "Perogies Place" was supposed to be the best place for perogies in Londontown. Unfortunately, the Internet lied, and "Perogies Place" was replaced by a steak sandwich shop that isn't half bad, but we did not get the perogies we desired. But today, we were victorious.

Budapest Restaurant (348 Dundas Street, London, ON) is a medium-sized restaurant with a patio in the front, and two dining halls. Our server invited us to sit in the smaller dining hall where no one else was. We missed out on some of the amazing decor until we were leaving, but we did have a nice amount of privacy to enjoy our meals.

Budapest - A Taste of Hungary!

They had a lovely gentleman playing jazz music on the piano - as we entered, I'm pretty sure it was "Georgia on My Mind". Beautiful :)

The view from our table out into the main hall.
The view of our "private" dining hall.
The main dining hall as seen near the entrance to the restaurant. Check out all of those flags!

The reverse of their take-out menus had an article from the London Free Press picturing Marika on the restaurant's 50th anniversary.
The Londonlicious Lunch Menu - a choice of soup or salad, various platters of German and Hungarian food, and a dessert all for $15.

Green salad with house dressing. The vegetables were very fresh, and the dressing was light. Perfect to start the meal!

Long awaited perogies. These were not on the Londonlicious menu, so I had to order them separately. Until today, I never had perogies that weren't boiled before, so this was a different experience. They were absolutely delicious. The outsides were a bit crisp, but you could taste the homemade dough just past that, which invited you into fluffy mashed potatoes flavoured with cottage cheese and dill, topped with sour cream, fresh dill, and bits of bacon. So worth the wait.

Laura got the Chicken Paprikash. Doris told us that "paprikash" usually involved a mixture of peppers with some paprika. I stole a bite from it, and the chicken was very tender, and the sauce wasn't too overpowering. It came with a chicken drumstick and a thigh!
Doris got the Budapest Platter - it had Hungarian goulash, wiener schnitzel, and a cabbage roll. Doris gave me most of her cabbage roll because she's not a huge fan, but she did say she liked this one. Rather than the pitiful imitations found in mall food courts, this cabbage roll had a thin layer of cabbage wrapped around a dense mixture of rice and meat. Still, it was tender, juicy, and very flavourful.

With the promise of Doris' cabbage roll, I opted for the Wiener Schnitzel. It came with 2 pieces of schnitzel and homefries, and as with the other plates, homemade spaetzle and cabbage salad. The spaetzle was perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of sauce so that it wasn't drowning in soup or soggy. The wedge of lemon provided just what was needed to accompany the crisp outside and tender inside of the schnitzel. The homefries were amazing. The outsides were heavenly crisp, with fluffy hot insides that I definitely burnt my mouth on, but it was worthwhile. The cabbage salad was interesting - it was slightly cooked so that the cabbage was wilted, but shredded very finely and seasoned with a tangy sort of dressing.
There were 2 choices for dessert; a poppyseed roll and cottage cheese tart. I picked the poppyseed roll. It was a very interesting taste. The pastry was swirled around a mixture of hundreds of poppyseeds and shredded coconut. While interesting, I learned that I don't actually like poppyseeds that much, and was unfortunately unable to finish it. Laura and Doris were also well into food comatose states, and couldn't offer their assistance.
Both Laura and Doris chose the cottage cheese tart. I should have asked a bit more about what it was - my fear was that it was something like a custard tart, which generally has a lot of cream content. That plus cottage cheese sounded like bad news for me. It was actually like a pastry cake of some sort with cottage cheese embedded in the cake to make it moist, with cherry filling. I feel like I missed out...
The tea, although simple, was a lovely conclusion to the meal. I have a feeling that dinner will be later today. (There was a definite sign that I require more sleep. As I began to pour my tea, I realized that I had yet to put the tea bag in the tea pot. Sigh.)
Budapest was the first Hungarian restaurant that I've been to. Although some of the food overlaps with German cuisine, it was quite the experience. It makes me yearn more for a trip to Europe someday I can afford it... The staff were all so friendly. Marika must be working some real magic back in the kitchen because everything was so delicious. The poppyseed roll was an exception, but moreso due to personal tastes than anything else. I would definitely go back if I had the chance.

I urge you to try Budapest while Londonlicious is still on because it is a great deal, and there are only 3 days left! Be sure to check out the other restaurants participating in this festival too :)


Budapest Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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