By A. Paul Mitchell, London Dining Review
In the tough restaurant industry, few places are able to keep their doors open for more than a year or two, so celebrating a 50th anniversary is quite the accomplishment. Budapest keeps serving up large portions of Eastern European classics to a dedicated London community.
Featuring Hungarian staples like roast pork, veal, schnitzels and goulash, every meal has a deep-fried component that makes it anything but “heart-smart.” Many go by the quaint restaurant for years but never venture in.
My visit to Budapest is a step back into history. The décor has a “dated timelessness” reminiscent of your grandmother’s house filled with antiques, doilies, mismatched China plates and even dolls. Yes, creepy dolls. It does however retain an atmosphere of comfort. The owner is permanently hard at work making guests feel welcome and being a friendly – if frequent and sometimes inappropriate – host.
Combination plates provide a good range of what you expect. My Hungarian Platter ($13.95 for lunch, $20.95 for dinner) consists of starter salad, Chicken Paprikash, Wiener Schnitzel and a Cabbage Roll served with dumplings (spetzel actually). Just for good measure, a spicy sausage adorns the top!
The hearty meal is cooked very well. The chicken thighs are juicy and smothered with thick gravy sweetened with paprika. Fried schnitzel has a crisp coating of breading in contrast to a mushy and meaty cabbage roll. Vinegar coleslaw provides some freshness to the onslaught of cream and protein.
Musical accompaniment in the evenings is provided by live piano although it is not unusual to have additional entertainment from heated arguments between kitchen and other staff.
For time-honored Eastern European comfort, Budapest is a sure winner. The restaurant may not be a frequent choice for everyone, but it has almost become a tradition to dine there at least once. Eccentricities aside, no one will walk away hungry or disappointed… Just be sure to bring an appetite (and a Lipitor).
48 Dundas Street, London, ON N6B 1V7
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm; Sunday, 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Rating: **** (4)
Price range: $7.95 – $24.95