Jonas’ Restaurant eluded me for months. Years really. I’ve always meant to go there, and yet each and every time I tried the mission was a failure. When I went there on a spur of the moment it was closed. Then several lunch reservations failed due to work or weather. Then two dinner plans fell through. Jonas’ and I continued in this vein for quite some time, and just recently I e-mailed a friend and lamented that the stars just won’t line up for us. Until last week. Then I found myself with my food partner in crime Jen tucked into a corner table for two hungrily studying the menu.
The small and cozy restaurant has plain white walls with Hungarian themed decorations, and red and white checkered tablecloths. The lighting is quite dim as the place has almost no windows, but there are charming pots of silk flowers and tealights on each table. We started with wine – a lovely red Hungarian cab for myself and a white sauvignon for Jen, and since I know next to nothing about wine, my description will end here. Being rather hungry and wanting to sample a variety of dishes we asked the waitress for her favorites, and she suggested the Wiener Schnitzel, Chicken Paprikash with Home-Made Dumplings and Beef Stew with Pasta, Feta Cheese and Dill. While we waited a bread basket arrived with slices of light rye, a few fresh sliced jalapenos, and a couple of containers of butter. The food arrived steaming attractively just as we were emptying the basket. We’re not know for our restraint.
Chicken Paprikash was the mildest tasting dish on the menu. The meat was fall apart tender, with perfectly cooked tiny chewy dumplings. The sauce was a gentle pink blend of tomato and cream with smoky undertones. It was a lovely and comforting dish, perfect on a cold day or if you feel like the world has been too abrasive lately.
Beef Stew with Pasta and Feta was our mutual favorite. The feta was not gritty in texture or overwhelming in flavor as in some dishes but almost as if it was whipped with cream cheese. The salt and tang were muted and lovely over the bland foil of pasta. I adore dill and the herb added a bright familiar note to the sauce. The stew was dark and thick, tomato based with thick cubes of beef that were barely holding together.
The Wiener Schnitzel is where Jen and I disagreed. I thought it was a superb dish – very crisp breading, proper amount of salt, a large portion and chewy but not at all tough meat made it a winner in my book. Not at all oily, with fresh lemon juice squeezed over it, it was a tasty delight. The potatoes served with it were great too – very soft chunks tossed with dill, butter and salt they were a perfect contrast to the crispy schnitzel. What looked like frozen veggies served with it didn’t add any value, nor take any away. Jen was underwhelmed and said that had she found out it was from Safeway she would not have been surprised.
At this point we were stuffed, but had a great deal of catching up to do. Over wine and the lovely stupor that descends after a homey, filling repast we filled each other in on our busy lives and new interests. Comparing notes, books, sites and music we whiled away a pleasant hour and improbably arrived at room for dessert. Ninety percent of desserts consist of crepes with various fillings, and we chose one stuffed with ground nuts and chocolate sauce. It was an excellent concept with decent execution. The crepe is a bit too chewy suggesting that it’s frozen before serving, and the filling inside while warm and nutty has a funny aftertaste. Neither of us could identify the nuts. The chocolate sauce could be a bit creamier, it had a slight grit to it but it did provide the necessary sweetness to the dish.
Full and happy we waddled out of the restaurant contemplating escalators, taxis or any mode of transportation not requiring the use of legs. But use them we did, bravely walking off some of the food while we made our way to the core to say goodbye. Like a mother’s hug Jonas’ warm atmosphere and home cooked meal made everything better in the world.
4/5 937 6 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2P 0V7
937 6 Avenue SW