After an unexpected success with a Romanian Brettljause, it was only logical for me to continue expanding internationally with a visit to Ilona Stüberl, a small Hungarian restaurant in the very center of Vienna.
Now, instead of starting from afar before coming to the essence of my experience, let’s make it short and sweet for those who cannot read more than a few sentences: no, it wasn’t especially good.
The only bits truly Hungarian about this dish were the slices of Pick’s salami and Paprika Kolbasz – both great, of course, but easily obtainable from the nearest supermarket at a fraction of the price. The Speck, cunningly placed at two separate places on the board to make it look as two different types was actually exactly the same and had as much in common with today’s Hungary as the Austrian-Hungarian empire. That is, it tasted like a good old Austrian Speck from the above supermarket. The same can be said about the Liptauer, the only unusual thing about it being the presence of unidentified white frozen stuff in its middle. I would rather attribute this peculiarity to the careless storage of the Liptauer in a freezer than any cultural difference. Finally, the two provided types of cheese tasted of nothing at all, making them, I suppose, culture-neutral.
What did improve this Brettljause, on the other hand, was the higher than usual quantity of vegetables. The paprika and the green peppers were hotter than what one usually finds in Austria, adding a bit of Hungarian touch, and the abundance of fresh onions demonstrated a certain commonality with the Romanian version. Finally, having enough fresh bread and butter was a welcome thing, encouraging piling things up to create little sandwiches.
For the people who do read the reviews until the end, here is my advice: go to Ilona Stüberl. It is a highly touristic place, so it makes sense to choose a quiet time between lunch and dinner. On the other hand, you will certainly notice that the clueless tourists mix with the regular customers of both Hungarian and Austrian origin, who come here to appreciate Ilona’s specialties and the cozy and friendly atmosphere that makes you forget for a minute that you are in the middle of the city. Be sure to try something genuinely Hungarian, though, for the “Kalte Leckerbissen” are not.