I was so confused. I walked into the Monastery restaurant thinking I was about to eat Italian and to my surprise it was Hungarian. Hun - what? How did this happen? Am I really ODing on multi-tasking that my menu research for Norfolk Restaurant Week merged one menu in my brain and stuck it with another? I guess so. So Hungarian it was. And really, what is Hungarian food?
In retrospect, I wish I would have done the research I did to write this post before going to Monastery. I read that traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, cheeses and honey. We were greeted with fresh bread with slices of Havarti (my favorite) and a homemade cheese spread that was pretty mild. We had a healthy debate on whether it was butter or cheese. (Cheese, I heard the waitress tell another table.)
The only real things I recognized on the menu were Goulash and stuffed cabbage, as my mom has prepared very American variations of these for our family growing up. One of the specials was a rabbit dish that sounded really tasty but it wasn't part of the restaurant week menu. Dern. It would have been helpful if the Monastery would have included more detailed descriptions on the menu for the unfamiliar. I would have liked to try something out of my comfort level but it would have been impossible to have the waitress explain every item on the restaurant week menu. I ended up with stuffed cabbage, but more on that later.
Hungarian food is interesting. It isn't pretty so if you want flashy dishes that will dazzle you visually this isn't where you need to go. My research validates that it is hearty eating. There isn't a wow factor but I imagine if this was part of your upbringing you'd love it. A lot of people think my family are freaks because we love collard greens.
I started with the Potage Esau, which is old fashioned lentil soup, and it was delicious. My favorite part of the meal. It was piping hot and flavorful. Like I said before I ordered the stuffed cabbage for my entree. It wasn't good but it wasn't bad either. There was this sweet undertone that I personally didn't care for. For dessert I had crepes filled with apricot. It was simple and tasty.
I don't know if I'd go back. I didn't have anything that even scratched the good food nerve but I have no idea if I went to a steak house and ordered a piece of chicken, follow? But I celebrated Norfolk Restaurant Week in its true spirit, I got out and I tried something new.