We had dinner tonight with our intrepid friends, Brian and Mj. They are great for going with on culinary adventures, as they are willing to try most anything. Cafe Polonia is Boston's only Polish restaurant. It is frequently mentioned as a hidden gem and a great cheap eats in reviews and blogs. People have also proclaimed it to serve the best potato pancakes in Boston. Given my recent latke cravings, I suggested Cafe Polonia for dinner.
It's a small, but cheerful space in South Boston on Dot ave. I had no trouble making a reservation earlier in the day. The menu has a section of traditional foods and that's what we ordered, good hearty Polish fare. We had potato pancakes, fresh kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, pierogis and some borsch.
First, let me wax on and on about the potato pancakes. They are fantastic, I could have had a whole plate to myself and been very happy. These are, without a doubt, the best potato pancakes I've ever had, including the ones I made myself a few weeks ago. They are perfectly crispy on the outside, potato goodness on the inside, served with applesauce and sour cream. I'm already to return for some more. Maybe for breakfast tomorrow?
The kielbasa was also great, very flavorful and unlike any supermarket kielbasa you've ever had. Hillshire Farms, move over. It was accompanied with pickles and grated horseradish. The stuffed cabbage was like a soft, tender meatball thinly wrapped in cabbage. At the beginning of the meal, Brian remarked that he didn't like cabbage. I assured him that the name was misleading, and it would be akin to someone naming a sushi roll, stuffed seaweed. The stuffed cabbage is all about the pork and rice filling. You have the option of getting tomato or mushroom sauce, we went for the tomato, which was good, but next time I will try the mushroom.
There was also a lot of choice surrounding the pierogis; you could get cheese, potato and cheese, cabbage and mushroom, or meat. Additional, you have to decide if you want your pierogis boiled or fried. We chose 4 potato and cheese and 4 cabbage and mushroom. All of them were fried with caramelized bits of bacon. I thought the pierogis were only okay, I felt that the wrappers were a little on the thick and doughy side. I enjoyed the fillings. R really liked the pierogis.
The borsch was not my cup of tea. Needless to say, it was very beet-y, and I wasn't a fan, but R and Mj both really liked it. I did enjoy the mushroom tortellini in the soup.
Oh, the bread! I almost forgot to tell you about the bread basket. The bread itself was nothing special, but it came with a ramekin of pork fat, studded with bacon. I'm sure some of you are shuddering at the thought (but if you are, why are you reading my blog?), but it was fantastic.
We got dessert, and it was certainly the weakest part of the meal. Mj got a chocolate babka cake that was very rich and dark. It was the best dessert. I got an apple crisp that was on the dry side. R got a blueberry crepe, which I thought was too thick and gluey, like the dough had been overworked. Brian didn't get any dessert, as he is on a “diet,” however that didn't stop him from sharing in the desserts :)
Dinner came to about $80 for 2 appetitzers, 4 entrees, 3 desserts and a ginger ale. Quite a bargain. I can't wait to get more potato pancakes.