Dave and Mark were up for something different for dinner. Given the ethnic nature of Cleveland, it’s a waste to visit one of those national cookie-cutter chains when visiting the city. There are so many different cuisines and restaurants ran by locals. So, I suggested my favorite Hungarian restaurant, Balaton in Shaker Square. I know I am prejudiced with my Hungarian background. The snow and cold was bad as we drove to dinner. I worried that Dave and Mark would be disappointed after the bad driving conditions. That was not the case.
Balaton is a true Hungarian institution in Cleveland. I remember dining in their Buckeye Road location, the center of the Hungarian community, 30 years ago. They moved to this more upscale and charming location maybe 10 years ago. Jane and Michael Stern have featured the restaurant in their Road Food segment on PBS. They called it possibly the best Hungarian restaurant in the USA. The food is very authentically Hungarian.
Dave and I had the Wiener schnitzel. The Sterns had raved about this dish. It definitely deserves the praise. The serving was gigantic and both Dave and I brought 1/2 of our meals home. Brett had the Szekely gulyas (pork, sauerkraut and sour cream seasoned with paprika). It was amazing. Mark had the Hungarian goulash. It looked excellent. As full as we were, we could not resist the deserts. I had the dobos torte, the best of Hungarian cakes. It was perfect. Brett that Palacsinta (crepes stuffed with cream cheese filling)… another winner. Mark had the peach cream strudel. Dave had the Gesztenye Torta (chocolate chestnut torte). All the dishes were winners. Like the Sterns, I say make a trek to Shaker Square for a taste of Budapest in Ohio.
As we drove back home with our bellies full, we got to experience the lake effect snow of Cleveland. The further south we travelled; the more the roads cleared. After about the first 10 miles, the remainder of the trip was pretty smooth. We arrived home to our hungry puppies and 4 degree weather… not a favorite of our dogs.