Hungary?

Head to Boston’s for a cosmopolitan take on pub food

By Paula Johnson

There’s a lot of quirk going on at Boston’s Bistro & Pub, and I mean that in a good way. Unexpected might be another way to say it, or perhaps eclectic. PIP (Palate In Progress), Wiley Banker Tom and I tried Boston’s out a few weekends ago. Now located in North Dayton on Main Street, Boston’s was formerly downtown for many years. The move afforded the restaurant a large space with visibility on a main intersection, as well as ample parking. We arrived on a Sunday evening and found seating at a booth in the sedate bar space. While things were low key at the time, with Nascar on the TV and a few patrons musing about the race, I had the feeling this place really gets hopping (beer pun intended) on busier nights.

Zwack attack

Boston’s offers a considerable international and local beer, ale and cider selection, as well as a range of Hungarian wines and liquors. It’s probably the only place in town you can get Zwack, the Budapest based company brand name for an 80 proof (40% alcohol) herbal liqueur distilled from a secret blend of more than 40 different herbs and spices. It’s one of Hungary’s national drinks and Boston’s has it for you to sample, both in a glass and also incorporated in a salad dressing. In keeping with the evening’s eclectic vibe, the bar’s soundtrack is definitely worth mentioning. The tunes spanned a dizzying range of cultures and styles from Brazillian jazz to Bon Iver to the Edith Piaf classic, “La Vie En Rose.” With the Nascar backdrop it made for a slightly surreal but weirdly enjoyable mix, and seemed to make sense with Boston’s international flair.

One quick glance at the menu shows owner David Boston’s Hungarian roots. “Magyar” or “Hungarian” appears in the description of several menu items. Boston takes his heritage seriously, making his own smoked garlic kolbasz, and his own blend of traditional Hungarian seasoning. Boston’s is a casual tavern, with the food served in paper-lined baskets with plastic silverware. After sampling the kolbasz, pizza and panini, I found myself wishing for home-style Hungarian dinner classics like Paprikash and Goulash. I have a feeling David Boston probably makes a mean version of these and many other Eastern European favorites. If he decides to open a restaurant featuring Hungarian food, I’m in!  But, back to the bar food …

Ample sample

We started with Bostyan Sampler ($12.99) and the Soft Pretzel ($4.54). Boston’s marinates the chicken we had on the platter in beer, and grills it. There were three dipping sauces, as well as smoked Kolbasz, Kalamata olives, smoked Gouda cheese, Hungarian peppers and toasted Asiago ciabatta bread. It was a nice selection—a lot different from the usual fried bar appetizer platter typically found in a casual place. The pretzel was from Rinaldo’s Italian Kosher Bakery. Crusty golden outside and soft doughy inside, we dunked the bits of lightly salted pretzel goodness in the spicy brown mustard and homemade queso, and gave it a thumbs up.

We continued on to the panini. The Magyar Pork Kraut ($7.99) featured mildly spiced kraut, Kolbasz, Hungarian pepper rings, onions, smoked provolone, spinach, Roma tomatoes and Stone Pale Ale Ground Mustard with Chipotle Peppers. The sandwich combined a lot of disparate flavorings ranging from the caraway sauerkraut, the smoky note of the cheese, the sharp vinegar of the mustard and the distinctive taste of chipotle, but somehow it all seemed to work together. Same for the Hungarian Chicken ($7.99): marinated chicken breast topped with honey mustard sauce, Magyar spice, smoked provolone and spinach. Both panini were grilled crisp, and all agreed worthy of another thumbs up.

Pizza pizzaz 

We moved on to pizza, each available in a 9” or 12” version, as well as a gluten free 8”. The menu offers customized pies or several of their own creations to choose from. Boston’s, like many Dayton pizza places, has a thin crust that is cut into bite size pieces. We tried the Magyar Smashed Spuds ($9.49) with garlic/paprika mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese and bacon. It was sprinkled with Cajun spices (again, an odd but tasty pairing) and served with a side of sour cream. We had to try the Magyar Kolbasz ($9.99) since we liked the homemade kolbasz so much. This one featured a horseradish sauce, Hungarian peppers, onions, smoked provolone and
Magyar seasoning.

Perhaps the only detraction from the pizza was the overly salty seasoning the crust was sprinkled with, which seemed to overwhelm instead of enhance.

Other pizzas include Mexican, BBQ, Greek and Italian Classic, reinforcing Boston’s global approach to just about everything they serve. However, the desserts landed us squarely back in Hungary.

Rockin’ roll

When was the last time you encountered palicsinta on a menu? I’m guessing not here in Dayton, if ever. What is palacsinta? Thin Hungarian pancakes, in this case rolled up with an apricot, whipped hazelnut-chocolate and raspberry cream cheese fillings. Boston’s dusts them with powdered sugar and drizzles them with chocolate. They were delicious, but the real star was the humble nut roll, warm and tasting like someone’s grandma just popped it out of the oven.

If you can’t get to Budapest anytime soon, I’d suggest a more local trip to Boston’s Bistro & Pub. Its originality and Hungarian flair puts it on my list of places to get back to again soon.

Boston’s Bistro & Pub is located at 7500 N. Main St. in Dayton. For more information, please call 937.461.1002 or visit bostonsbistro.com.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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