STAccepts all major credit cards and personal checks. Accessible to the handicapped. Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. every day except Monday.
On our anniversary recently we decided that the two of us would revisit the Old Budapest in Fairfax City, a perfect spot for romantic rememberings over a candlelight dinner.
We had been delighted on a previous visit to find not only well-prepared Hungarian dishes but also gypsy music played by a violinist who knew our favorite song, "The Anniversary Waltz."
This time the restaurant, a sprawling Spanish-looking building on top of a grassy hill on Lee Highway, was fairly crowded for a Tuesday night. Since the Old Budapest was opened 12 years ago by John Taba, the son of a Hungarian sausage maker, as a tiny place with 34 seats, it has enjoyed increasing popularity. Four years ago, Taba gave up adding on to his old place, and built a much larger restaurant next door. There are two adjoining dining areas with a dance floor and a bandstand in the larger room. There is also a rathskeller downstairs.
Taba's success has been tied to the goal he first set for himself when he began 12 years ago. "I said let me give to the customers that which I expect when I go somewhere else to eat," Taba explained. To do that, he bought a farm in West Virginia several years ago and now raises his own cattle, hogs and chickens for the tables at the Old Budapest. The eggs are provided by the farm, as are most of the vegetables.
Our dinner began with a basket of thick slices of delicious white bread, made each day by one of the women in the kitchen.
As we lingered over the bread, we tried to make the difficult decision of what to order.There is a variety of dishes from chicken paprika to Sult Kacsa, appointed that there wasn't more red cabbage. But the meats were cold and a bit overcooked. Also our waitress was inattentive, unlike the sevice during our previous visit.
Accompanying the meal was a half bottle of celebration champagne, at $4.75. Also on the menu were various imported Hungarian wines and domestic reds and whites.
Just as we began our dinner, a spotlight flashed on, and out of the audience marched six men and women singing a peppy tune. My husband, a bit startled, said "What happened to our little violinist?"
At it happened, the Budapest's gypsy musician Rudi Saranyi still entertains in the restaurant's rathskeller, but on this evening he had taken a vacation.
Upstairs the entertainment is provided by the Celebration, six talented local singers Taba hired in March. The group gave delightful renditions of Broadway and Hollywood tunes and carried it off with nice touches of theater.
To the strains of "My Fair Lady," we finished dessert - for my husband, the Gundel Palacsinta an interesting, rich pastry of crepes - one stuffed with cheese, the other with a nut filling - covered with chocolate sauce priced at $2.50; and for met the Dobos Torta, a Hungarian six-layer cake with a crunchy caramel frosting at $1.50.
Our total bill came to $35 with tip for an enjoyable evening, even though we didn't get to hear "The Anniversary Waltz."
The Old Budapest, 10101 Lee Highway, Fairfax City. Phone: 273-2800. Accepts all major credit cards and personal checks. Accessible to the handicapped. Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. every day except Monday.