Friday, April 4, 2008

Budapest Bistro

From time to time, I crave the Hungarian dishes my grandma prepared when I was young. However, Grandma's cooking was meat-based, and vegetarian recipes for Hungarian food take some determination to find. Over the years, I've improvised a vegetarian dumpling soup using my grandma's dumpling recipe, learned to make mushroom paprikás from a recipe in the wonderful Olive Trees and Honey cookbook, and dined on cabbage rolls just like Grandma made (but without the meat) at a Ukranian restaurant in New York City. But until this weekend, I had never been to a Hungarian restaurant that served vegetarian food.

Budapest Bistro is tucked between shops on Old South Pearl. Its website promised home-style Hungarian cooking, but the fare is more what I would describe as modern Hungarian cuisine. For example, Budapest Bistro's cucumber salad takes the thinly sliced and marinated cucumbers that my family would eat as a side dish and sprinkles them over a small plate of mixed greens, along with thin slivers of red onion. The salad is then topped with a creamy tarragon dressing and a dusting of paprika. While definitely not the cucumber salad that my grandma would serve, it was an interesting way to update a Hungarian classic, and perhaps more palatable to people who haven't grown up eating the vinegary mix of cucumber and onion.

For an entree, I had spicy mushroom paprikás served over a mound of tiny spaetzle dumplings. While the mushroom paprikás I've made at home relies heavily on red bell pepper, in addition to paprika, the mushroom paprikás at Budapest Bistro was made with a blend of chopped mushrooms and onions, and a fiery sour cream paprika sauce. It was very good, and I expect that I'll be back to have it again -- and to try the breaded cauliflower.

Budapest Bistro's website indicates that the restaurant is family owned, and that owner/chef Anna Hellvig grew up in Hungary. The restaurant, which looks appropriately Hungarian with its red and white interior and embroidered tablecloths, was busy. The service was friendly and efficient.

Budapest Bistro

1585 S. Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210
(303) 744-2520

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