When you walk into Andre’s Cafe, a snug Hungarian bakery and restaurant, the strudels catch your eye. The girth of cricket bats, they’re swathed in what looks like the lightest, most flaky pastry ever, and are stuffed with apple, cheese, cherry-cheese, poppy seed, or cabbage. “What makes it Hungarian-style?” we asked the white haired woman behind the counter. “We have strudel in Hungary, and so…” she replied, with a Euro shrug. Right!
She went on to posit that Hungarian strudel is wider than German and Austrian strudel. Regardless of width, strudel first became popular during the Hapsburg rule over Austria-Hungary, which explains the pastry’s popularity across Central and Eastern Europe. Because of close ties to Turkey at that time, strudel, or retes as it is called in Hungarian, probably has its roots in Turkish pastries like baklava.
Andre’s retes are wrapped in incredibly delicate pastry, as crackly as parchment paper and similar to filo dough. Our favorite is the poppy seed. The mass of honeyed black seeds lends a slightly bitter, vegetal edge. Don’t forget to check your teeth!
1631 Second Avenue