Kathy's Kitchen brings home-cooked Hungarian to Bloordale Village . Next to the House of Lancaster in a former shawarma shop, this new restaurant is a family run affair with Mom (that's Kathy) and Dad in the kitchen and daughter Katalin taking orders out front.
With an eclectic interior consisting of two deflated balloons, some generic prints of Paris and a large pair of lips, Kathy's isn't big on feng shui , but I'm not here for the decor. The slap-dash menu offers Hungarian classics like wiener schnitzel ($7.25), the enigmatic Gypsy Steak, (beef rubbed with spices and garlic, $6.75) and chicken livers ($6.50) to quesadillas ($4.25) and Philly steak ($7.20). Also on offer -- though curiously not on the menu -- is an all day breakfast. Pop, coffee and juice make up the somehwat limited liquid options.
Our party of three goes with the schnitzel, the daily special of beef stew with dumplings ($8.20) and the walnut noodle ($5.50).
The service is a little wonky, with our drink orders forgotten and the table next to us waiting for several dishes to arrive. Still, the mood is welcoming and earnest, and we don't really mind the wait. Katalin explains the microwave is broken so things are a little slow today (not a great sign), but offers us some starters to tide us over. We choose the lagos ($2.50) because they're cheap and we've never heard of them before.
Lagos turns out to be fried bread slathered with garlic, mozzarella, sour cream -- and is apparently a dessert! I guess it sort of resembles a beaver tail, but the gallon of garlic nearly blows my top. Still, I like unapologetic dishes like this, but just don't order it on a first date.
My schnitzel comes next with a side of fries (lead photo). It's big, honest, and tastes just the same. Tender veal coated with a crisp, light breading, it comes alive with a squeeze of lemon and some S&P. Nothing fancy, but hearty and hard not to like. Too bad the fries are McCain vintage.
Our quirky dining experience continues with the arrival of the walnut noodle. OK, so we should have asked, but pappardelle heaped with walnut meal and icing sugar wasn't what we were expecting. But it somehow works, with the grainy, sweet topping complimenting the starchy pasta. Served cold, I'm unsure if this is the traditional method or related to the microwave mishap, but it tastes good nonetheless.
Eventually the beef stew arrives, and is the best of the lot. The bed of tender dumplings does a stellar job soaking up the juices from the stew and the melt-in-your-mouth beef. With strong notes of paprika, this is a stick-to-your-ribs dish to warm the coldest winter night.
While Kathy's Kitchen definitely has a few rough edges, the haphazardly endearing service and home-cooked fare make it worth a stop. You might not leave in a hurry, but you won't leave hungry.
Kathy's Kitchen is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m Monday to Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.