Danube so blue, I’m longing for you.
You murmur of home, far over the foam…
Well, not hardly. In fact, not at all.
On a short road trip into the back streets of Trenton with gal-pal Jeremy, we patronized Blue Danube, an old-world rowhouse restaurant featuring Hungarian and German food. The only body of water in proximity is the Delaware River several blocks over, and the color is nowhere near blue. Jeremy had eaten here a few times and said the food was memorable—the neighborhood, not so much. She was spot on, on both accounts.
The Blue Danube sits at the corner of Elm and Adeline streets off of Broad.
Since it was Friday the 13th, I secretly crossed my fingers that when we emerged from eating, her car would still be there. It was, and the weekend night life was just starting to get underway. But that’s someone else’s blog, so I’ll concentrate on our dining experience.
The restaurant’s main door (on the side) opens to a small, but well-stocked bar, where when we arrived, three elderly folks were enjoying cocktails, while another couple stood in the miniscule waiting area to get seated. We on the other hand, had a reservation and were shown to our table right away. The two small dining rooms consist of only about eight to ten tables total, and for a Friday night, oddly several of them were still available.
As described by Karla Cook of the NY Times “…it’s an old-timey restaurant where the knickknacks are layered, the flowers are silk and the glasses don’t match. But the soft-focus food hugs you from the inside.” This Eastern European-Continental formula is a recipe for success—at least where the food is concerned. Blue Danube is all about paprikas, wiener schnitzel and goulash, spätzle and mititei, plus cabbage and pierogies. Yes, there are some Italian and Americanized options too in the case of a picky eater.
Let me just preface the menu by saying if you’re in the mood for mesclun and artisanal goat cheese with balsamic vinaigrette, don’t go to Blue Danube. Trendy it’s not. And don’t be in a hurry, because everything is made to order and the service is slow. The upside of that is, at least one doesn’t feel rushed.
Starters consist of about a dozen cold (i.e. Stuffed Cherry Peppers, Pickle Platter) and hot (Danube Sampler for Two, Turoscuza) choices, and a few homemade soups. The reasonably-priced main dishes are listed under Old World Classics (which include soup or salad), Steaks & Chops, Chicken and Veal Entrées, plus Pastas and Seafood Specialities. So “When in Rome” as the saying goes, we concentrated on the Old World Classics.
Dining companion Jeremy (above left) took some time deciding but finally landed on the Taste of Europe: a large platter loaded with stuffed cabbage, pork schnitzel, pierogies, and homemade sausage on a bed of cabbage and sauerkraut, garnished with a generous dollop of sour cream. As if you need more, the entrées come with a choice of sides and Jeremy chose the red cabbage. Let me tell you, she LOVED her dinner.
Our side salads were nothing out of the ordinary in looks, but they tasted amazing! And no, those are not french fries on top…
While Stuffed Cabbage is not a typical choice for me, it seemed to be calling my name that evening. The three melt-in-your-mouth cabbage rolls made with pork, beef and rice, are slow cooked and smothered with tomatoes, sauerkraut and shredded cabbage and come with either pierogies or kielbasa—I chose the latter. While my entrée was very good, the side of spinach cooked to the consistency of baby food, was way overdone to my liking, although it was tasty.
Their desserts run the gamut from Tiramisu, to Apple Strudel, to Savarina and Parfaits and Sundaes. Too darn full—and with take-home doggie bags—we didn’t even consider ordering more food. But on our way out Jeremy noticed a young couple sharing a very large sweet treat, which when asked, they told her was the Tiramisu, indeed enough for two!
As we emerged onto the streets, the evening was growing dark, our stomachs were full, and the car was intact. All-in-all, not a bad dining experience…