It's one of Norwich's top restaurants on TripAdvisor, but how good is Goulash House?
PUBLISHED: 10:12 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:18 04 September 2018
Patrick Widdess tries out Norwich's first Hungarian restaurant, Goulash House.
Strings of paprika and rows of painted dishes set the scene at Norwich’s first and only Hungarian restaurant. I visited with a rough idea of what goulash is and my Hungarian partner who was able to talk me through the traditional dishes on the menu and strike up a rapport with the waiter by speaking in his native language.
The restaurant serves several varieties of goulash including beef, wild boar, and mushroom along with a selection of other meat and carb heavy stews. There are also various Italian and other European dishes available offering variety to suit all tastes.
My partner skipped the starters wanting to save her appetite for the main course. Not wanting to overlook any course I ordered the Hungarian beef goulash soup. It arrived in a small, deep oval dish generously packed with beef, potato, carrots and pasta in a meaty soup.It was rich and full of flavour – a meal in itself. My partner enthusiastically dipped a chunk of the accompanying ciabatta into the soup and gave her approval to the tender beef.
Skipping the starter proved a good strategy as our huge main courses arrived. Mine was chicken breast “Bakonyi” and mushroom. The chicken and mushroom in a paprika sauce filled half a wide and deep round dish while the other half contained dumplings which looked like melting cauliflower. My other half’s was gypsy roast - two slabs of pork steak seasoned with garlic on top of a pile of boiled potatoes. Topping it off was a ring of bacon fat. The steak was cooked just right and went well with the potatoes but one couldn’t help feeling there should have been some more greens on the plate.
The chicken breast and mushroom was tender with the creamy paprika sauce adding a light spicy flavour. The dumplings didn’t have much flavour on their own but they went well with the sauce which softened them up, however, they were still quite heavy to digest. I pride myself on having a good appetite and clearing my plate but having already consumed a filling bowl of goulash I was struggling before the dish was even half gone. My partner who had started on an empty stomach made short work of the gypsy roast while I tried to at least finish the chicken and mushroom.
As a large portion of my main course returned to the kitchen I had little need for dessert but my partner had ordered everything at the start and I was soon faced with a couple of pancakes filled with cottage cheese and sultanas and decorated with icing sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. My partner had chestnut puree. I had come across pureed nuts in cakes and pastries before but here the smooth, sweet paste with a slightly dusty aftertaste was served in an ice cream glass between thick layers of whipped cream.
My pancakes were cooked just right. Soft, thin and slightly crisp. They oozed cottage cheese which was smooth and sweet with a slight lemony taste while plump sultanas added fruity notes to the medley of flavours. Although still rich they went down much easier than the main course.
While some parts of the meal were a bit heavy for my liking the dishes were authentic and well prepared. Having sampled the beef goulash as a starter I would like to try the other varieties of goulash on offer. And for those wanting something lighter there is a good selection of non-Hungarian dishes to choose from.
The restaurant is small with simple modern furnishings. Modest Hungarian decor sets the scene without making it feel like a tourist attraction.
It was quiet and pleasant early on a Friday evening. A steady stream of diners arrived while we were there.
The service was swift and friendly from Hungarian staff. I’m sure they speak good English if you don’t have a Hungarian speaker with you.
The restaurant has no alcohol licence but offers a selection of soft drinks and you can bring your own booze free of charge.
There are a couple of steps up to the entrance but inside there is plenty of space and everything is on the level.
The one toilet was clean, modern and well-equipped.
St Stephen’s car park is the closest and there are plenty of other options in the town centre within walking distance.
The large and filling portions make the main courses, mostly in the £10 to £15 price range, good value.
The beef goulash soup starter was a meal in itself and made me want to try the other goulash dishes on offer.
The heavy, fattening ingredients might not be to everyone’s taste but if you want to try Hungarian cuisine you will get a well-cooked and authentic meal. And if the Hungarian dishes don’t appeal there are other options available.