Open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. BA, MC. Reservations.
Gold-framed mirrors and chalet touches don't quite raise the Hungarian Restaurant beyond the lunchroom look, but the Hungarian music, and - even more - the leathery, intense musicians, helps. Service is without flourishes except for a kind of neighborly concern, and it is certainly efficient. Since Hungarian restaurants are among the few that make their own sausage, it is always worth exploring. Here it is a dashingly peppered, paprikaed and enticing appetizer. And when that sausage appears in a vegetable soup, the soup becomes memorable. Soup is a real buy here, eighty cents for a large bowl of something - dense goulash or faintly sweet and very pungent vegetable with spaetzle - worth making into a meal. Stuffed cabbage is as good as at any of the Hungarian restaurants, which is certainly a compliment. After that, things go downhill, from flabby veal cutlets to soggy chicken paprikash, to a sadly unexciting mixed platter. Other than the stuffed cabbage, which can be an appertizer or a main dish, the rostelyos - a rib steak smothered in crisply frid onions - is the most promising main dish. For desert, leaden strudel and pretty tortes. Except for the soup and sausage, the Hungarian issues a mundane meal, with main dishes costing an average of $5 to $6.
An important part of exploring Hungarian restaurants is the wine list. Each of these restaurants lists over half a dozen Hungarian wines at about $6 to $7 a bottle and several serve the robust red Egri Bikavar and the fragrant, syrupy Tokay by the glass. Taste a lightly perfumed white from Lake Belaton. For slightly sweeter wines, look into Nemes Kadar or Leanyka. It is a less costly investigation than most meanderings among wine lists.