804 W. Elizabeth Avenue, Linden
Hours: Mon-Tue, 11 am-midnight; Wed-Sat, 11 am-2 am; Sun, noon-midnight
Style: From the outside, the restaurant’s plain architecture and burnt-sienna color do not imply a quality dining experience, but inside, red-brick walls and wrought-iron light fixtures create the ideal atmosphere for Abigail’s eclectic mix of Hungarian, Polish and Portuguese food.
Don’t Miss: It’s easy to fill up on the crusty Portuguese bread whose warm, soft center melts on the tongue. The bread comes with a garlic dipping sauce, but makes a strong enough statement on its own. Mixed pierogies—potato and cheese; meat; sauerkraut and mushroom—are a must ($7.95). Schnitzel à la Warsaw ($12.95) veers from classic Wienerschnitzel by using a breaded pork cutlet instead of veal. It comes with mashed potatoes, beet salad and cabbage salad. Another hearty winter dish, hunter stew or bigos ($10.95), served in a bread bowl, combines bite-sized chunks of beef, pork and sausage with sauerkraut and cabbage that both absorb the flavor of the stew and add their own sour and bitter flavors to the gravy. The large Hungarian potato pancake ($11.95) is more than a pancake—it’s stuffed with beef goulash and topped with sour cream. The only downside is that the pancake, initially crisp, turns soggy from the goulash. Though hardly Hungarian, Abigail’s sangria ($25 for a large pitcher of traditional sangria that serves 5 to 6 glasses) comes in 11 different flavors such as peach, watermelon, coconut and mojito. Though it may seem sacrilegious to stray from traditional red or white sangria, the peach is quite refreshing. Be warned: it is strong and does sneak up on you. The best dessert is not on the dessert menu—go with the cheese crepes or nalesniki ($8.95)-served with strawberry syrup, powdered sugar and whipped cream, or the blueberry pierogies served with sour cream ($12.95) from the regular menu.
Heads Up: Parking is scarce; spaces in the gas station across the street go fast. Thursday is Sangria Day, when large pitchers are reduced to $20.
The Scoop: In 2008, owners Barbara and Chris Chutnik bought the former Portuguese restaurant and infused it with their Polish heritage. Named after their young daughter Abigail, the café’s success is due, in large part, to word of mouth. After one meal, you feel as though you’ve been inducted into the Chutnik family. Abigail’s Cafe is, above all, a family affair.
What are Quick Bites? Short takes on casual, affordable dining.