209 - Magnificent Magyar
Some kids dream of running away to join the circus, but few actually turn whim into reality; that is unless you happen to be Elek Sebestyen. Born into a Hungarian family with a long lineage of entertaining in their blood, Elek has travelled the world as an acrobat and all-round circus performer. Today, the same man who worked with a young Brooke Shields and Sammy Davis Jr. in Circus of the Stars specials (you might remember from your youth), now owns and operates The Courtyard Restaurant in tony Yorkville.
Mementos from those spotlight-filled days in the rings abound in the chocolate wood-panelled dining room, as do the aromas of generous Hungarian offerings. The hearty cabbage rolls, served with sour cream and potatoes are fork-tender and flavourful. They gratefully take a pass on any gristly meat or fat-laden sauce. These are warm comforting crowd pleasers.
If there are at least three of you in your party with good appetites, you may want to sample the Wooden Platter. Here, you get cabbage rolls, pork schnitzels, a 5 oz. steak, fried sausage, old-style thick strip bacon, the restaurant’s own homemade coleslaw, potatoes and wild rice presented as an eye-popping tower. It’s a whole lot of food, but if you’ve got carnivores in the group who feel like a taste of the old country, this will more than satisfy them.
Elek is a charming host, delightful conversationalist and a pro at helping diners choose one of his good quality Hungarian red wines to accompany their meal. Try to leave room for a fine cup of coffee and dessert - or a digestif as you mull over the circus memorabilia and wonder what life in the circus might have been like had you been born with performing in your blood.
121 Yorkville Avenue