Cranleigh, my dear American chum noticed an article in the New York Times about a restaurant that has been a grand institution for over 50 years, namely the intriguingly named Gay Hussar. Now, for the unitiated this is not one of those restaurants that caters for same sex dining, so do not get the wrong idea mes amis. This is a notable Hungarian restaurant which happens to have a name that would not have turned a hair when it was first opened. Notable, firstly for being a destination for left-wing politicians, journalists and the cognoscenti who consider long lunches in a convivial atmosphere to be one of life’s great pleasures. Nay, on reflection it is in fact a duty to lunch well dear friends! Harrumph!
For many years this iconic restaurant with its intimate interior has been considered a great destination. However, the second notable fact is that the food wasn’t really that good. Not in your dear Doctor’s humble opinion and one has eaten there on a few occasions in the past. Given that your dear Doctor is of noble Hungarian descent, one can say this with some authority. Cook can rustle up a better Chicken Paprika than is served at the Gay Hussar. Prices are however reasonable for Soho. There once was a sister restaurant in Hampstead which tried to modernise things somewhat and did a reasonable job. Sadly it has long since closed. So it is no great surprise that the Gay Hussar has fallen out of favour as younger diners look for the this week’s trendy restaurant to frequent before anyone else. So, dear friends, the passing of an institution is upon us just like such greats as the old Boulestin, Maxims and Wheelers in St. James’s. However, if one hankers for some good eastern European food then there is good news. In the Doctor’s top ten best restaurants is Daquise, just off South Kensington tube in London. Although it is Polish, not Hungarian but it serves some wonderful food. The atmosphere is lively and the staff are most accommodating. Here is a link to the Doctor’s review of Daquise. If you are in London it is well worth a visit for ahem.. DINNER. The steak tartare is prepared at tableside completely from scratch and many courses come with what are called “noodles” which resemble gnocchi. By the way here is a link to the article in the NY Times. As you will note, the restaurant is up for sale it is rumoured for a reasonably small investment and there are some punters who are trying to get together to save it. Who knows, it may yet have a renaissance.