Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.
Atmosphere: A small and cozy storefront restaurant that offers good Hungarian cooking.
Price Range: Dinner entrees from $7.25 for filet of sole to $18.75 for a mixed platter for two. Children's portons, $5.
Reservations: Recommended on weekends.
Credit Cards: Bank of Virginia, Master Card, Visa. No checks.
Special Facilities: The front entrance is accessible by wheelchair from the end of the sidewalk; rear entrance has a curb; parking lot in the back.
Children these days are exposed to at least a semblance of many ethnic foods, but for most kids, international cuisine means fast-food pizza or tacos. f
Our family recently decided to widen the culinary horizon and go Hungarian.
We had experimented with a few Hungarian dishes at home, but quickly concluded it was time for something a little more adventurous and a lot more authentic.
The Hungarian, a storefront restaurant on Vienna's main street, seemed just right. For one thing, it looks very Old Europe: a long, narrow dining room where red lampshades cast a rosy glow and gold leaf mirrors line red-and-black paper walls.
As for food, it is a treat for the eye as well as the stomach. The menu lists several seafood and steak selections, but concentrates on dishes such as goulash, stuffed cabbage rolls, wiener schnitzel and sauerbraten. Nouvelle cuisine it's not. Most entrees are stick-to-the-ribs dishes and might be quite a change of pace for those used to eating light.
Dinners come with a vegetable and a green salad. Watch out for the house dressing. Pepper really overwhelms the oil and vinegar.
There is no children's menu, but children may order $5 portions of anything except steak.
Our 7-year-old who, like many youngsters, avoids foods that run together on the plate, turned up her nose at most of the selections, even the relatively plain ones like pork chops. Instead, intrigued by the name, she ordered cherry soup ($1.50) as her entree, backed up by bread and butter. Her meal was a big hit. Served cold, the soup was full of dark red cherries, its creamy broth slightly sweet with a hint of spices. The helpful waitress offered to bring an extra plate so that our daughter could sample everyone else's dinner.
Servings were definitely generous enough for sharing. Even the child-sized portion of chicken paprika with dumplings ($7.75 for adults) was more than enough to satisfy a 10-year-old's voracious appetite. Two large pieces of chicken, falling-off the bone tender, were smothered in a delicious light brown sauce. Our daughter found the accompanying green beans and carrots overcooked, but she loved the dumplings which were firm, yet light.
My husband ordered one of the specials, available only on Friday and Saturday evenings. Disznotoros ($9.10) was a hearty and colorful combination of sausages, pork chop, stuffed cabbage rolls with a dollop of sour cream, red cabbage and potatoes. The meats were well prepared and beautifully seasoned, their flavors distinct but complementary. The sausages, which bulged with finely ground filling, were particularly good.
Since I had an inclination to sample a little of everything, I chose the Hungarian combination platter, $8.75. In addition to sausages, cabbage rolls and dumplings, it included goulash in a rich brown gravy, just right for dunking the dumplings. The cabbage rolls were lovely, with a nice vinegar taste on the outside and full of a nicely seasoned minced meat mixture on the inside.
Despite the heavy fare, we somehow found room for dessert. The four of us split apple strudel ($1.50) and dobos torte ($1.75). The strudel, served warm and sprinkled with powdered sugar, melted in our mouths. The dobos torte was not as good. This cake, four layers high with chocolate filling and a crunchy caramelized sugar topping, looked beautiful but tasted as if it had been in the refrigerator too long. On our next visit -- and there will be a next one -- we promised ourselves to try the chestnut puree ($1.95).
The bill, including soft drinks and coffee, tax and tip, came to $39.58.