273 Glenhuntly Road
Elsternwick VIC 3185
+61 3 9530 0849
It was time for me to try some random cuisine and when Aaron suggested giving this random Hungarian restaurant in Elsternwick a go, I couldn’t say no. Situated on busy Glenhuntly Rd, Budapest not only serves an extensive array of Hungarian meals but also boasts a palinka (Hungarian fruit brandy) bar so big that it would make Zsa Zsa Gabor go siiick.
The restaurant opens at 5pm on Saturday evenings, which is ridiculously early for most but perfectly okay with us. I’m not sure what time Hungarians usually sit down for dinner but as an Indonesian myself, 5pm is pretty normal for us. Anyway, the restaurant offered some decent-sounding Happy Hour specials such as a plain schnitzel for $14 but we ditched the specials for the a la carte menu which had most of its mains hovering around the $20-25 mark.
I was going to order a Floris Apple to drink but quickly changed my mind when I saw the “six shots of various palinka $24” on top of the drinks menu. We left it up to them to choose which ones to bring us, the names of which escape me. I do remember trying a sweet apricot one as well as a not-so-pleasant herby unicum one. With an alcohol content of 38% (minimum), palinkas are probably a bit too strong for me to enjoy properly but at least I can say that I’ve tried them.
Haha, I’ll see if I can get through this review without making some lame-o joke about whether Hungarians are always hungry. Har-dee-har-har.
Csirkemajjal toltott gombafejek rantva, or crumbed mushrooms filled with liver pate ($10.50). I loved the crunchy crumbed coating which had virtually no traces of oil left. Not that I’m well-versed in Hungarian cuisine or anything, but I did feel that they could have cooked the mushrooms a little bit longer and made the pate a little bit smoother.
Surprisingly, the camembert sajt rantva (fried camembert, $10.50) tasted much better. I’m not sure if this is authentic Hungarian fare but I loved the crispy coating and the soft, luscious pool of creamy cheese that oozed onto my plate. Like the crumbed mushrooms, the cheese triangles were served with a csizki sauce which was made from made from mayonnaise, beetroot, apple, onion and mushroom. I’m not normally a beetroot fan but wow, that was one sauce that I was happy to eat again.
In hindsight, I should have ordered the goulash with nokedli ($21.50) but I followed Aaron by ordering a stuffed schnitzel instead. I ordered the magyaros (Hungarian Style) schnitzel ($25.50) which was basically a schnitzel filled with csabai smoked sausages and cheese and served with a choice of two side dishes – I chose the creamed spinach and chips. My schnitzel wasn’t bad – hell, it was nowhere near as dry as the chicken they served at Mrs Parma’s. Indeed, I loved the spicy sausages which gave the dish extra depth and bite but I was let down by the creamed spinach which was bland. If it were not for my food envy (I was drooling over the goulash that a nearby diner had ordered), I probably would have enjoyed this dish a bit more.
Aaron ordered the parasztosan (country style) schnitzel ($25.50) which was filled with bacon, onion and parsley. He opted for the red cabbage and the Hungarian potatoes (shown above) as his two side dishes. Both of us agreed that eating the red cabbage was almost akin to eating warm kim chi minus the spiciness while the potatoes didn’t really do much for me. I also wasn’t a fan of his schnitzel for some reason and I’m guessing it was the bacon *shivers*
I wish I could say that I loved the food. I wish I could say that the food was on par with the friendly hospitality, effective service and the warm atmosphere. Unfortunately, I just found it a little bland and at $96 (including drinks), I didn’t think it was worth it. That said, I WOULD actually go back again to perhaps try some more entrees (with that awesome csizki sauce, naturally) and listen to my gut by going for the goulash and nodelki.