42 Highland Avenue in Danbury, for lunch after church. This restaurant, opened in1977 by John Aczel and his late wife Magda, is perhaps the only Hungarian restaurant in Connecticut and has some very good (though not universally so) reviews online. We arrived promptly at noon, parking in the small lot behind the restaurant, and were greeted by the restaurant's owner, John Aczel, coming out of his back door and informing us that the restaurant wouldn't be open until 1:00, so the three of us piled back in the car and went off to kill some time.
Upon our return, we parked and walked around to the front of the building, where we entered from the left-side door, set back from the street. I was surprised by how small the dining room is, with only room for a bar in one corner, a small salad bar, and a half dozen or so tables. Hungarian tchotchkes covered the walls. John invited us to sit wherever we liked and gave us a couple minutes to look over the menu.
Having read several reviews of the restaurant, I already knew that I wanted to try the Transylvanian goulash but, as Ian ordered that, I selected the combination plate, featuring beef, pork, and veal. Devin, since she's a vegetarian, had fewer options and ordered pea soup and palascinta (Hungarian crepe) with mushrooms. I also ordered stuffed cabbage as an appetizer. The youthful members of the party got rootbeer and I ordered a dark Czech beer, then John directed us toward the very small salad bar, featuring iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumbers, pickled beets, and just a few other items.
|The Sampler Plate|
|John Aczel with his kolbasz.|
As Ian, Devin and I drove back to church after lunch, we discussed the restaurant and how we might review it. Ian and Devin were both very happy with their food, but I was less so. The salad bar was minimal, feeling like a throwback to the 1970s, back when "lettuce" meant "iceberg" and the beans and carrots were better forgotten. We all agreed that the service was a bit on the slow side, but that it was very friendly. The small dining room meant that the smoky-smelling drinkers at the bar were a pungent presence as we ate. Would we go back? Probably, but I'd definitely stick with the goulash rather than the sampler plate.