Looking back at traveling and eats….
Gone but not forgotten….
Are you hungry for Hungarian?
If so, The Epicurean Hungarian Restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Hillside can take you through food, atmosphere and hospitality to Hungry. Very little imagination is needed to picture that you are seated in Budapest rather than a western suburb of Chicago.
Your transportation to Hungry begins when you walk in. Dark, rich wood and comfortable furniture recreate the experience of waiting in a friend’s study in the Old World. A grandfather clock ticks away the time while you wait for a combination of food that can take you back to a simpler, less rushed time.
My journey to Hungry via Hillside was in consideration for the moving of a painting. I was happy to accept, and it was a good thing that we ate at Epicurean before the painting was moved — as I can explain later.
We were seated quickly in a booth that had the same rich coloring and themes as the foyer. It was decided that a nice ethnic beer would go a long way towards complimenting the expected rich selection of food, but we were disappointed to learn that as of the first of 2009, The Epicurean no longer served alcohol. We were informed that we could have brought our own drinks, but we of course didn’t know ahead of time. The Epicurean web site still pictures a very nice bar an wine selection, so beware — B.Y.O.B.
Our service was prompt, but a little forgetful, in that we ordered soup which didn’t get delivered until the entree was served. I had ordered a fish soup, Halászlé, which wasn’t available after all, and settled for Bogrács Gulyás (beef vegetable), which was worth the wait.
I was going with a beef theme here, and I picked Marhapörkölt (beef goulash). It came with a generous helping of tender and seasoned beef and a type of golden fried “Hungarian” potatoes. Now that I think about it, the sauteed zucchini or tökfõzelék was missing without explanation.
We all make errors. The soup was late, the zucchini lost, but the biggest mistake was yet to come –made by me.
CP, the owner of the painting, had Sajtos-Sonkás Borjú Szelet (Veal Cordon Bleu), which had a crispy outer shell and the identical Hungarian potatoes with spinach. It was described as “lightly breaded”, but then maybe bread is much heavier in Hungry. It didn’t stop CP from eating every last bit, nor me wolfing down my sample.
Though alcohol was no longer being served, I asked about a special mix of some type of home brew Hungarian spirits that used to be kept hidden away in the cellar, and our server sadly stated that even that was no longer on premise.
Epicurean is moderatly priced and has a full menu of appetizers, soups, salads and entrees that include choices for the vegetarian and meat eaters of any type. There are many specialties and side dishes as well.
There is a popular lunch buffet, Monday – Saturday, and an dinner buffet, Wednesday-Friday. Sunday brunch is served buffet 11am-4pm.
When the bill was settled and we stood to leave I observed some paintings on the wall and was reminded of the purpose of this meal. I had a painting to move.
Just as the Epicurean made some errors in service, so did I with my Masterpiece Moving Service. I managed to poke a hole in the painting.
Because I accepted my Marhapörkölt as a forward payment, the only thing I can do is revisit the Epicurean after the painting is repaired, and treat.
You don’t need to be moving a painting to visit –or even waiting until a death to visit– (Epicurean is located near a number of cemeteries). Go anytime and relax with the good food, comfortable setting and even music, which is live on occasion and playing softly in the background at other times.
Author’s update: The Epicurean is long gone: anybody know of a good Hungarian Restaurant in Chicago? Or Detroit? Or Kansas City? Or St. Louis? Indy? Or Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati? How about Minneapolis? Or any points in-between?