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|Address:||2 Greek Street, London W1D 4NB|
|Tel:||020 7437 0973|
|Price: £41.00||Wine: £16.25||Champagne: £40.95|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12.15-2.30pm 5.30-10.45pm|
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Shrove Tuesday is the day that Christians use up all their food stuffs before the 40-day lent fast. Given the amount of ingredients it used, the Gay Hussar must have a very full pantry indeed.
This may be partly because the restaurant was empty when we arrived. The ambience was more like a library. My companion and I whispered conspiratorially while exchanging guilty glances, worried that a waiter may come and “shh” at us. Towards the end of the evening it began to fill, but by then we were too distracted by the glorious food to notice.
The downstairs room is a cosy mix between a living room and train dining carriage. The waiters friendly and delighted to talk about the food, wine and history of the restaurant. Being just of Soho Square it has seen its fair share of the highlife. The walls are adorned with caricatures famous politicians and journalists that have eaten there, a social circle it fully justifies.
Their pancakes are world away from the lemon and sugar creations soon to be stuck to kitchen ceilings throughout the UK. My deep-fried goulash-stuffed pancake was as hearty as any British stew and had a depth of flavour that belied its simple roots. The the veal itself was slightly overpowered by the sauce, but you hardly even noticed.
Our bottle of Tokaji Muscat Blanc did power through however. Its floral nature gave it an extremely sweet start and dry finish that cut through the heavy sauces. Hungarian wine is not exactly a staple of restaurant lists, or indeed supermarket shelves, but their white wines are often worth a risk.
For pudding I had the walnut pancakes, made famous by Budapest celebrated restaurant Gundel, after which the pudding is named. The dark chocolate sauce and walnut and rum filling were savoury enough to stop the dish being overwhelming, and the raisins gave short, sharp bursts of sweetness. After such a heavy main however, the second pancake could have easily been replaced by some whipped cream, to balance the plate. Chocoholics would doubtless disagree.
The menu was traditional, varied and reassuringly expensive. The only flaw I could find was that there was too much on the plate: too much thought, too much food and, sometimes, too many flavours. But in hearty cuisine this is not necessarily a bad thing and I left contented, feeling like I had prepared for a 40-day fast.