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Café Polonia

DodinBouffant | Jan 20, 2003 10:19 AM

Saturday's balmy weather seemed like a perfect occasion to sample some homestyle Polish cooking at Café Polonia(611 Dorchester Ave near the Andrew T stop). CP is a very small place with about 25 seats depending on how the tables are configured, and if you sit near the door you should probably leave your coat on...but who cares about that, chowhound is about food right. Well lunch was a pretty big success in my eyes and a pretty good value too. They have a menu with tradional dishes(pierogis, galabki, etc), some sandwiches and a daily menu that includes 4 different items for each day of the week and a weekend brunch menu. When you sit down the server brings you a bread basket which has a little cup of crispy pork flecked lard. This was going to be good. The lard was delicious on the firm bread and just needed a little bit of salt to bring out the pork flavor a bit more. I ordered the Sourdough Soup with Egg and Sausage(not having any idea what it was, but after ordering asked my server and was informed that it was like a white borscht) and my companion of Ukrainian descent ordered the Forest Mushroom Soup (both were on the Sat specials menu). These soups were both absolutely delicious. One minor fault in the sourdough soup was that the quartered hard boiled eggs were a bit overcooked as the outer part of the yolks were discolored a bit(but I didn't detect any sulfur flavored overtones in the soup). The sausage had a soft texture and the soup was slightly acidic with little droplets of dried herb oil speckling the top. The Forest Mushroom soup was a superb broth of Dried Porcini(heady and aromatic)served with little square noodles and some minced fresh herbs. I had Golabki(Cabbage stuffed with pork and rice) for my entree, might be one of the best versions of this I have had yet, the cabbage was moist and very tender(and still held a bright green color)and the filling was spectacular with a very nice rice/pork ratio, soft, moist...excellent, the accompanying sauce was a thin tomato broth with little chunks of tomato and onion with the slightest bit of acidity and sweetness. My Ukrainian friend had the Grilled Kielbasa Sub(something she dines on far more than she is willing to admit). The Kielbasa was split and griddled to crispy and served with caramelized onions and sauerkraut(the menu says onions or sauerkraut but our server insisted both)and served on a firm crusted and toasted roll with horseradish spiked grain mustard. The sausage was plump juicy and delicious and comes from their market across the street (as does the lard for the bread basket I believe). The couple next to us ordered the potato pancakes(served with mushroom sauce or sour cream and they looked absolutely awesome...they are next on the list to try along with Bavarian Style Pork Hocks in Beer Marinade(hope winter is here for a while longer). Anyway, super solid homestyle cooking in a small but friendly environment with very nice servers. I highly recommend this. Also the market across the street has a huge selection of eastern european dry goods and smoked meats/sausages etc.. There is another market about a 1/4 mile up Dorchester Ave(heading toward Columbia on the left hand side)I think it is just called Euro Deli that has an amazing selection of cold meats/head cheeses/sausages/double smoked bacon and lots of homemade desserts(bought a cheese strudel for yesterday morning and just warmed it in the toaster oven...very yummy). Café Polonia is a great place to go after a chilly hike in the Blue Hills or just for a bite of heartwarming inspiring home cooking. They list a website on their menu but it is just a domain page with no info yet. Hmmm Monday's special is Potato Dumplings with Mushroom Meatsauce, the clouds are moving in and it's flurrying, might be time for a walk!

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