Korona Csárda is in a small lodge that’s part of the compound that makes up the Hungarian Community Centre in Wantirna.
It’s owned and operated by husband and wife Zsolt and Eniko Vigh, who first met at one of the many Hungarian culture festivals held at the centre and opened Korona Csárda in 1995. It’s only open for Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch, and it serves generous all-you-can-eat buffets for $40 a head.
The best way to start the meal is with a shot of pálinka, a Hungarian spirit flavoured with fruits such as pear, plum or apricot that are fermented, then cooked for two days and distilled into a sweet, smooth, clear liquor. Korona Csárda is licensed for BYO wine, too.
You can collect snacks from the entrée table, which might include bread; soups; cold cuts (including salami smeared with cream cheese, smoked gypsy ham and pork loin stuffed with a whole sausage); devilled eggs; potato salad; and Liptauer, a spread made with sheep’s-milk cheese and spices.
Dining here is also a bit of a party. Regularly Zsolt pulls out a sword-like glass tube from behind the register and fills it with Hungarian white wine. Then, plugging the opening with his other thumb, he raises it above his head and artfully shoots wine into diners’ mouths.
The main course begins with salads using sauerkraut, cabbage or cucumbers. Then, the mostly meaty hot section involves the all-important beef goulash; a roast cut of pork, usually neck or belly; chicken paprikásh (boneless chicken braised in stock and sweet paprika); tripe stew; chicken schnitzel; thick cheese-and-spinach sauce; fresh pasta with quark and bacon; and peanut-sized dumplings called nokedli, known as spätzle in some regions.
Everything inside is Hungarian, from the tablecloths, to the curtains and even Zsolt’s floral-patterned shirt.
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