With a maiden last name ending in “ski” you may guess that I’m of Polish background. As a first generation Canadian, I grew up eating quite a bit of Polish food over the years. So I can consider myself a bit of an informal expert on the cuisine.
The recent Café Polonez tweet-up came about as a result of a comment about pierogi (the Polish plural spelling) at the last foodie get-together that I attended with Frank – our dim sum experience at La Rosa (Celestial Court) in Markham. Patricia Sheng (@luxual), who organized the La Rosa event, is also Polish. Between the both of us we had several of our Toronto twitter friends get all excited about checking out Polish cuisine via a #pierogiTO tweet-up.
Despite some scheduling issues, about 18 of us finally got together on Friday, February 24th to enjoy hearty Polish food at the Roncesvalles Village establishment – Café Polonez.
On a Friday night, the restaurant is fairly busy serving locals, obvious Eastern Europeans (if you are one, you can spot one a mile away) and families getting together for a hearty meal.
The unpretentious, simple clean decor with Polish-influenced art is welcoming.The delicious scent of potatoes with dill and kapusta hangs in the air. As Lily – aka @kaleelei – said, “I wish I could pack up the amazing scents here and take them home with me.”
The menu is extensive, from the typical pickled herring as appetizers, various salads, traditional soups such as barszcz z uszkami or flaczki and a huge selection of mains. It’s hard to choose between golabki (cabbage rolls), kotlety (Polish-style hamburger) and the many different types of sznycel (schnitzel). To drown down the meal you get to choose from several brands of Polish beer including Żywiec, Okocim and Leżajsk.
The Polonez schnitzel ($15.95) is to die for – perfectly crispy, not too much batter and just the right amount of meat. Paired with button mushrooms, kapusta (cabbage), coleslaw, beetroot salad and of course potatoes!
The pierogi are almost like Babcia’s, and so they rate quite high on my scale of deliciousness. The dough is the right consistency and you can choose from several fillings including my favourite “Ruskie” (aka Russian style) with potato and quark cheese.
Café Polonez is a restaurant where you come hungry. A must are either “fat pants” or pants with buttons that you can pop open, like at an Polish Mama’s Sunday family lunch. For those who think Italian mamas are the only ones that say “Mangia, mangia…” you haven’t heard the Polish version – “Jedz, jedz!”.
Portion sizes are huge. If you aren’t too hungry you can easily share a plate of pork sznycel with your date or friend.
Service is quick and efficient for small groups.