I’d had the place staked out for a while, doing the slow drive-by surveillance every now and then for any sign of movement. Nothing for weeks. And then, suddenly, one Saturday afternoon, it happened. The sign was up. The door was open. Transylvania Flavour was in business. I contacted my strike team and gave them the green light. Go!Go!Go!
We hit the place on a quiet Thursday night. There were seven of us – seven self-proclaimed schnitzel aficionados on a search for the perfect Vienna style cutlet. To date, our quest had taken us all over the city, from the folky German charm of the Vancouver Alpen Club to the Hungarian down hominess of The Budapest – and finally landed us at the doorstep of the newest schnitzel contender: Transylvania Flavour on West Broadway. Just one tiny problem. There was no schnitzel on the menu. Well, not on the dinner menu anyway. Perhaps sensing our disappointment, our waiter suggested we might like to give the Chicken Supreme a go. Or maybe the Steak Frites. Chicken Supreme? Steak Frites? Had I unwittingly stumbled into one of these “mixed menu” eateries? A touch of French? A smidgeon of Eastern European? Perhaps some egg rolls to go with my kielbasa?
I was facing a simmering revolt from my carnivorous fellow diners who had already started grousing over the possibility they would have to settle for the veggie stack or walnut-stuffed trout (all, no doubt, excellent dishes but not quite what we had expected coming in). Fortunately, our waiter returned with the good news. Although the schnitzel is usually only available on the lunch menu, the chef would be able to accommodate our special request on this night.
And so, much relieved, we kicked back, ordered a few beers, and started things off with the Knight’s Platter, an enormous dish of kielbasa, kebabs, roasted veggies, glazed beets, house chipped potatoes, mini meatballs, house salad, and tasty mixed olives. All of it great. Also included were some crisp mamaliga – parmesan and polenta balls served with sour cream and red pepper sauce, and rakot krumpli – a hearty sausage, potato, and sour cream casserole. We followed that with what our waiter termed a more “northern Ukranian” version of perogies, the hearty dumplings stuffed with yam and smoked Gouda, and accompanied by the requisite sour cream. The mititei – Transylvanian sausages based on an old family recipe – were some of the best sausages I’ve ever had. A plate of homemade cabbage rolls and sauerkraut did not disappoint either. And, finally, two kinds of schnitzel – chicken and pork – the atypically thick yet tender portions of meat served atop a bed of excellent mashed potatoes and glazed beets. The pork schnitzel, by the way, is without a doubt the best in the city.
When the dust finally settled, we were all mightily impressed. And stuffed. Still, we did manage to make room for dessert: a neutron star dense chocolate cake and some delightfully downhome Transylvanian doughnuts.
Overall, a terrific meal with some truly stand-out menu items. Service was great (at one point, our mashed potatoes were whisked away and returned after being reheated in the oven). The place has only been open a month or so, clearly, the owners are still trying to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. In my opinion, what really works are the traditional East European dishes like the sausage, the perogies, the schnitzel and, on a return visit, the special house tripe soup which proved a wonderfully hearty/buttery/garlicky creation. And it’s nice to see they’re welcoming input.
Since our last visit, they’ve moved the schnitzel to the dinner menu. But I also hear they’ve made a change in the kitchen as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how that effects the menu. Hopefully not too much.
All in all, another successful op.
Back in the office today and we broke the JF story today. More on it, some snaps from Kindred II, and the mailbag tomorrow.