Behold, a new writer! Tim Milford is our wine loving, brass playing, Germanophilic man of many interests and talents. His first review is of the Gay Hussar, in Soho – where he followed strange food cravings (and a half price deal) all the way into this little Soho establishment. You can see what else Tim’s upto on Twitter: @timmilford
- Tokaji slamming aesthetes and hungry Hungarians missing their home cuisine
- Those afflicted with unstoppable cravings for Goulash (see above?)
- People looking for a restaurant that’s very different to the kind of stuff you might normally come across in lovely Soho
In A Word
You know when you get that insatiable desire for Hungarian food? You know the one, that burning desire for Goulash that just won’t go away? OK, maybe that is stretching things somewhat, but when I was looking for a venue for a meal with one of my mates, three things drew me to The Gay Hussar.
Firstly the name, what a simply awesome name – who wouldn’t want to eat there? Secondly, their speciality – Hungarian; I’d been to Budapest once before when I was inter-railing and I seemed to remember that the food was pretty good.Thirdly, I found a special offer through Open Table where during the week you can get 50% off the food bill. All in all, it was an easy decision to make.
On arriving at the restaurant(somewhat appropriately situated in Soho), I was struck by the rather old-fashioned atmosphere of the restaurant. Wood-panelled walls and tables that were nestled rather too close to each other gave it a rather dated feel. However, The Gay Hussar is a restaurant of very high renown, mainly due to its political links.
The Gay Hussar and politics go together hand-in-hand, it is famed to be somewhat of a political hangout and one can only imagine the sorts of political intrigues and plots that have been hatched in this establishment over the years.
The walls are lined by a vast array of political caricatures which have been made of the various patrons of the restaurant and donated for its collection. Overlooking our table were Jeremy Paxman, Charles Clarke, Robin Cook, Norman Lamont and many others that I probably should have recognised, but didn’t.
One of the benefits I find of being on a 50% off food offer is that it means you can order from the full menu with true abandon; suddenly everything seems to be a bargain. As a result, I went straight for their most expensive starter: Seared Hungarian Foie Gras, Caramelised Onion, Tokaji and Black Truffle Jelly (£11*).
I had not had a pan-cooked Foie Gras before and I must say that I enjoyed this tremendously. It was served on a slice of toast and the sweetness of the accompanying elements was a very good foil for the fatty and rich Foie Gras.
There were a number of things on the main course menu that looked appetising and interesting, but I think I always knew that I was going to have a Goulash. I love a Goulash at the best of times and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity of having one at an authentic Hungarian restaurant.
The dish I chose was a Veal Goulash with Galuska (£17*). When I ordered I had no idea what Galuska actually was, but when it arrived I realised that it is very similar to a German spätzle– a cross between noodles and dumplings which I’ve had a few times when I’ve been in southern Germany.
The veal chunks were sizeable and deliciously tender and were slavered in a rich tomatoey sauce, sour cream and paprika. This was exactly what I was after in a Goulash, big and hearty, full and flavoursome.
I like my wine and I particularly like it when I get to try something different. If you ask the average man on the street to name a Hungarian wine they’d probably hit you, which is why you should never ask the average man on the street about these kinds of things.
If you were fortunate enough to meet a wine lover on the street and ask themthen they would probably think of Tokaji, which is fair enough; Tokaji is a beautiful wine and is rightly held to be one of the world’s great sweet wines. After all, Louis XV proclaimed Tokajis to be “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum” (Wine of Kings, King of Wines).
However, a lot of people don’t know that the grape used to make sweet Tokaji wines, Furmint, can also be used to make a dry white. I was very keen to try out one of these dry Furmints, so I chose the 2012 Sauska Tokaji Furmint (£32.50) which had a clean and mineralic nose, with not much fruit present. On the mouth it was clean, fresh and zingy; there was acidity to give it some balance, but I would have liked a little more. It proved to be a good match for my fatty Foie Gras and flavoursome veal.
After the hearty starter and main course I was simply too full to have a pudding. Fortunately I was able to take a glass of 2007 St Stephen’s Crown (Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos)to satisfy any cravings for sweetness. It was sweet without being overly so and had a decent smattering of acidity to it. Not the greatest sweet Tokaji that I’ve ever had, but still a nice way to end a thoroughly decent meal.
As you will probably have been able to tell, I enjoyed this meal a great deal. It was nice to eat a different kind of cuisine and when the 50% was taken off the food bill it also became a pretty reasonably priced dinner too. Heartily recommended.
(* the prices quoted are the full prices of the dishes, not the discounted price that I paid with the 50% off offer)