I had a strange, yet enjoyable time at the Hungarian Literary Society last night. My usual stance is to avoid the Upper East Side at all costs, making a sojourn there about twice a year. However, I was invited out for dinner and this eccentric little spot was chosen. Firstly, there is no sign or indication that the building is anything but residential. I went in anyways and pressed the button that said ‘club.’ A small dot of a light lit up (think retinal scan) and I waited until I was buzzed in. When I entered, there were large, aged framed documents, including the one to the right, of former members of the society. Once I ascended the steps, I heard the clattering of a kitchen and finally, entered the club. My friends were close to the front but I noticed that the rest of the patrons/members were probably just as old as the framed photographs downstairs. They were all playing cards. I sat down at our table which was already set with seltzer water and a bland cucumber salad concoction. A Hungarian woman brought menus but also told us the daily specials. I had no idea what she said, but then she looked at me and said, “Tell me what you want. We make whatever you want.” We somehow were bombarded with a multi-course feast that ended with various Hungarian desserts. By the end, I was spooning out the custard of a Napoleon-like pastry, totally forsaking the dough and rationalizing this behavior with the idea that I couldn’t leave the plate full even though I was full. We left without going upstairs to the library, but now, I guess, I will have to break my rule and journey to the UES for a third time this year to see what’s upstairs.
323 E 79th St New York, NY 10075 (between 2nd/1st)…2nd Floor