Two Saturday’s ago we took a trip to Hungarian restaurant Gay Hussar based on a work colleague’s recommendation.

Apart from a goulash cooked for us back in November, we hadn’t tried Hungarian food before so I was quite excited… but then I do get excited about anything to do with food so that isn’t really a surprise!

This was the Saturday it snowed so we had a wet and windy walk up from Charing Cross, making the arrival into the sumptuous surrounds of Gay Hussar all the more welcome.

The restaurant was established in 1953 by Victor Sassie and has been a Soho staple since then with politicians and journalists making it one of their regular haunts. In the main dining room one wall is full of framed caricatures by the cartoonist Martin Rowson and the other is mirrored.

The decor is fairly old fashioned and has the air of a drinking man’s club but it is warm and friendly at the same time. There are also two small dining rooms upstairs and everything feels a bit cramped and wonky but this only adds to the restaurant’s charm.

The main dining area has cushioned panelled benches running along both walls and we were seated in one by the bar where the table was moved out so we could sit down and then was moved back once we sat down. Procedure was repeated when we needed the loo!

Service was pretty good however, and as we were sat in the corner I could have a good nosy at our fellow diners, something I do often and rather too obviously I am told…

Chilis feature on each table

Liba-Sertés Pástétom – Goose and Pork Pate

“Nice but not amazing”

Kapros-Gombás Halgaluska – Fish Dumplings with a Creamy Dill and Mushroom Sauce

I liked the mushrooms and the sauce best in this dish as I found the rice and dumplings a little claggy and boring.

Loved the dinner set

Cheesy shot showing the width of Gay Hussar and the framed caricatures

Resztelt Máj – Duck Liver Sauted with Onions, Bacon and Paprika

He loves liver so he was happy.

Borjúpörkölt Galuskával – Veal Goulash with Galuska

I found this a bit odd to eat at first as the Hungarian gnocchi was thick and the shapes all looked a bit wormy… but I did enjoy it and the veal was nice… but it wasn’t amazing. Bit disappointed.

Dobos Torta – Layered Gateau with Caramel Top

Can’t really mess the desserts up and this was a good one. Far too rich for me, perfect for him.

Makos Retes – Poppy Seed Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream

They had run out of this one but offered me apple strudel instead. I happen to LOVE apple strudel so this was fine by me! It was also completely delicious and very good value.

Leslie Phillips was ‘ere

Outside in the snow

So, we had a nice dinner and the service was good but the starters and mains were only so so and I think I enjoyed the decor more. I have paid less for better food (the total bill was £95 for three courses with two drinks apiece), and I don’t think we would go back but I am glad we came.

It was also nice to be in a restaurant with a bit of history and I did feel it could very easily be the scene of many a political piss up (I possibly spent too many hours reading Private Eye when I was younger), but the old biographies on the shelves by the bar were fairly dusty and it all felt a bit quaint, not the best restaurant recommendation…

Read Toby Young’s 2010 Independent review for another opinion, but it isn’t much better than mine.