Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ilona's Garden Café

My wife is full of surprises. She wanted to go out to dinner and she wanted to come here, to Key West's latest Hungarian restaurant.The place was guarded by this guy who was yelling for help, his leash was caught around the plant. When his owner finally figured that the dog didn't like to be tied up and let him loose he sat quietly by the doorway into the restaurant. Key West has yet to implement a new state law permitting dogs in outdoor restaurants. Weirdly enough I am not a huge fan of taking my dog with me into restaurants because I really don't need the hassle of looking after her on my evening off. Happily for me Cheyenne is quite content in the car, especially in the cooler days of winter. Having her sit in an air conditioned car while I eat dinner seems absurd. We took inside seating, paradoxically, preferring not to sit out in the heat of the evening. Ilona's has a long list of micro brew beers, keeping up with the fashion, and we asked for two beers not hoppy and bitter and we got precisely what we asked for. My wife's Terrapin had a honey after taste she really liked and my Sweaty Betty (sic) from Colorado was several steps above a Coors blandness. They sell wine too.We were amused to see among all the wines on display a bottle of Bull's Blood from the city of Eger. In September 1995 my wife and I rented a car in the Czech Republic and spent three weeks touring Eastern Europe at a time when western ways had barely started to penetrate the former Iron Curtain. We landed in Eger during the annual wine celebration and we carefully brought home a plastic barrel of wine, that they filled for us, one among many souvenirs from the trip.Eger Bor (bor is Hungarian for wine. Magyar is a very confusing language) was not on the menu for us on a steaming September evening. September is the quiet month in Key West and we had the Friday night inside dining room to ourselves. The menu offered standard Key West dishes and sandwiches, but we went for the Hungarian side of the page. Beef Stroganoff:
Chicken Paprikash, which had just a hint of peppery bite.
I don't know what came over my wife but she went for a shared ending to the meal, an apple caramel cheesecake and coffee.Outside a jazz trio was performing to the outdoor bar and garden part of the restaurant. This place in the middle of Appelrouth Lane used to be where the German restaurant called Martin's used to live. They went all upscale directly on Duval and lost all this charm for some reason.Appelrouth Lane is the alley that ends opposite the Strand Pharmacy on Duval.And to make our $45 dinner out perfect we got to ride off on the Bonneville.
My wife only got to ride back to her car, across town. I got to ride all the way home to my dog, suffering the pangs a deep sleep in the air conditioned house.