Since no one had apparently tried this Hungarian-Roma place--though I thought I'd seen some mention of it sometime back--three of us checked it out.
Located at 4901 Mission on the corner of France, near Geneva, it's easy to drive right by, which we did the first try.
Ours was one of two parties on a week night, though the husband and wife server-chef combo assured us folks came from all over on weekends.
The place is small and not particularly "decorated," the food, to anyone fond of Eastern European flavors, very good indeed.
Highlights included a sour cherry soup, offered cold or warm and tried warm; langos-- a plate-covering Hungarian fried bread rubbed with plenty of garlic--absolutely irresistible while warm; a crepe filled with turnip in wine sauce and garnished with both salad and mamaliga--Rumanian polenta; an evening special casserole of potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and sausage with a generous side of pickled red cabbage; and a "vegetarian" noodle concoction generously dotted with creamy farmer cheese, onions,& bacon (optional, of course) and garnished with strips of fire-roasted red bell and buttery breaded green beans.
Chef and cooking instructor Julia told us she makes her own strudel dough, though, alas, none was available that evening. Fillings may include apple, cabbage, poppyseed, walnut, or cherry.
The Hungarian "palascinta"--crepe--was available with a choice of fillings. We chose apricot, which turned out to be a very good preserve in a large, perfect crepe.
They declined to charge corkage, gave us a complimentary Turkish coffee, and insisted we forget about the glass of Bulgarian red omitted from the bill (we didn't, of course).
I don't know if they get extra staff on the weekend, since everything seemed made to order and worked out ok under the circumstanbces but might make for rather long pauses if the place was busy.
We really enjoyed the food and the experience. Whether others would depends on their fondness for (or perhaps just curiosity about) the cuisine of this part of the world, examples of which--never mind really good ones--have been sorely lacking in the SFBA. Next time we'll try the stuffed cabbage and the gulyas or maybe one of the classic Hungarian paprika dishes--chicken or mushroom. And, of course, the strudel (Hungarian strudel dough is a close relative to phyllo and nothing like what's often called strudel, especially in German restaurants).
I definitely recommend phoning ahead. Business here as at many other places is slow right now, so hours might be inconsistent. (415-469-5637)
I didn't mention prices but will try to attach a link to the web site that includes menu, directions, wines, etc. (www.bistroe.com)
Subscribers to the Chron can use the Gusto card and make it even more reasonable than it already is.
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