Café Polonez is one of the final Polish strongholds left in Roncesvalles and a restaurant I always find myself coming back to. If I weren't Asian, I reckon I would be Polish. Beets, celeriac, poppy seed and cabbage are almost second nature to me. Even my most beloved Asian juicy pork dumplings, could be easily substituted for the quintessential pierogi .
After a lovely morning stroll around the park, I head over to Café Polonez for lunch and am reminded of just how much I enjoy this place. The renovations have given the laid back family restaurant a more polished touch with antique Warsaw maps and warm wood furnishings. With a steady flow of Polish grannies attesting to its authenticity, along with friendly neighbourhood locals, little has changed about Café Polonez in an ever evolving area.
I have made it a custom to always order soup. There are never any surprises, just home made goodness with every spoonful. Barley soup is the pick of the day and lives up to every expectation.This hearty soup with diced carrots, celery, potatoes and barley grains in a milky broth is simple, as it is wholesome.
Their rotating daily specials are a great option for those who are overwhelmed by their extensive menu. Wednesdays are my favourite, as they devote an entire day to potato pancakes with sour cream for dipping! But, I am craving pierogi and order a half-portion of an assorted savoury platter ($4.75). This is a far cry from the pierogi that most people dig out of their grocer's freezer. They are freshly made and stuffed with: shredded pork, cabbage or potato with cheese. The dough is fresh and ever so delightfully chewy.
A "half-portion" of their Wiener Schnitzel ($9) arrives with a landscape of sides spilling over the outer parameters of the plate. Mountains of buttery mashed potatoes dusted with fresh chives, tangy coleslaw, shredded beets, steamed veggies, tasty sauerkraut, overflow the plate. The schnitzel is crisp without being oily, tender and well seasoned. Accompanied with a sunny side up egg, it could easily rival any monster weekend brunch.
There's a real sense of care and pride at Café Polonez. As soon as you step through the door, you feel it in the hospitality of the staff, the meticulously clean upkeep of the dining room and their dishes that stay true to tradition. Healthy comfort food in a welcoming surrounding for less than $10 is what keeps Café Polonez on my roster of surefire favourites.
Photos by Stephen Chung