Price range: Dinners range from $4.35 to $6.75; children's menu available.
Credit Cards: Bank Americard, Mastercharge.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 5 to 10 P.m. Special Facilites: High chairs.
Reservation: A good idea.
Special facilities: Parking in back of restaurant; highchairs; accessible to the handicapped.
The Hungarian Restaurant is small, so small that when one party of six is dining, a second group of six can't be seated together.
But taht is soon forgiven when the benefits of smallness become apparent. The owner, Jeno Borbely, is within a few steps of each table; the one chef can concentrate on each dish, and the waitress can keep track of each order, even though the diners switch seats twice, as we did.
But however cozy a restaurant, its food is still most important. The food at Jeno Borbely's is some of Washington's best Hungarian cuisine. From the appetizer of sausage - a little spivy, a little sweet - to the sour-cherry strudel, all the dishes are consistently good.
When Borbely took over the small Vienna storefront three years ago, he said, it was about the rougest place he had ever seen. Now the walls are covered with warm reddish wallpaper and they reflect light from the candlelit booths and tables and they echo the harpsichord-like music of the cymbalom player.
When six of us arrive at the Hungarian restaurant a few evenings aog, Borbely greeted us at the door. "People keep telling us to keep it small. We could expand but our customers keep saying, 'Don't!" Small is what makes it nice."
They are right. When my two-year-old wandered uncertain and alone toward the men's room, Borbely himself escorted our small gentleman to the right place. Later, when the same young man reached for the flame of the wall lantern, Borbely intervened in time. Similar little attentions continued through our pleasant evening.
We started at the top of the menuappetizers and soup - and devoured three of the best starters we have had. What is called simply potato soup is a fantastic combination of spicy broth, sausage, carrots, potatoes and spaetzle. A good sized bowl is 80 cents.My husband chose the homemade sausage ($2.25). Another in our group swooned over the stuffed cabbage ($2), nicely accented with a dollop of sour cream.
The bread basket contained good fresh rye and pumpernicekel and the salad was lightly tossed with a house sweet and sour dressing.
We couldn't resist sampling as many entress as possible. Inluding a mixed platter for two ($12.95) and a combination plate, we had Fatanyeros, Wiener Schnitzel, Paris Schnitzel, grilled pork, sausage, sauerbraten, chicken paprika, goulash and stuffed cabbage.
"What is Paris Schnitzel?" we said.
"They call it Paris Schnitzel in Hungary," Borbely told us. "Why Paris, I don't know except to make it sound different or special." Like the California surf burger in New York, which is a Manhattan burger in Los Angeles.
The entrees were uniformly delicious, but our favorites were the stuffed cabbage and the Paris Schnitzelk (with a squirt of lemon juice).
While everyone raved over the strudel (85 cents) and dobostorta (95 cents) a multi-layered cake, we liked the chestnut puree less well.
A nice spice added to each dish was the music of the cymbalom player, who asked each customer if there were something special he could play.
Our entire bill for a large feast from appetizer to dessert for five diners and one child who shared an entree was $43.85 minus tip.