polakowski, krakow

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cheap polish fare in krakow’s old town. we were recommended this restaurant by our host; but really I would classify it as a self-service deli. I believe it might even fall under the category of ‘milk bar’, something that in Poland refers to a form of category. milk bars are bar mleczy in polish, for interest.

we have never had polish food, and so we went a bit crazy seeing how cheap everything was; our bill barely came to 12 pounds in total for all that food. what we ended up ordering was a potato soup, which we thought was meant to be a chowder but really was a clear sort of vegetable soup with a slick of oil on top – we couldn’t finish this, and really it was a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the meal.

the food is already cooked and displayed under warmer lights at counter where you make your order, and I believe it is freshly heated up before serving. I ordered chollent, meant to be a sort of jewish stew with meat and beans – but what came was a dryish slab of meat mashed with beans. it is moist, but largely because of the oil in the dish. it was ridiculously oily and hearty (have a look at that napkin on the plate in the last photo) and I managed a spoonful but not much more.

the carrots and peas I had two bowls of, and it was the most edible thing to me in this meal. but remember my penchant for vegetables; that probably biased my view.

the boiled ham hock was hugely edible, and very large. the meat was tender and fell off the bone but we couldn’t help but want a german pork knuckle instead, since the crispy skin provides some interest to what really is just flabby, albeit tender meat.

pierogis were next, a sort of meat dumpling done in thick flour wrappers. they came doused in what we found out later was lard – and this really just put me off – and I dug the filling out of the dumplings to try. the meat was harmless really, but there was a sort of spice to it that was unfamiliar.

polish food, then, is hearty and incredibly calorific. I had a feeling throughout my meal that this must have been food they needed to survive their siberian winters and must also have arisen as a result of the incredible manual work they must have once bee involved in, but it doesn’t figure so highly in modern life – not for health reasons. I found it necessary to stock up on fruit and exercise after this meal, but it is personal preference.

I found the food tasty even if too hearty for my taste, and this place – though I obviously cannot vouch for authenticity – was cheap enough for me to try all the polish food that I wanted to try and so I recommend it. to be fair, most people at the other tables were polishing off bowls of soup with bread rolls and very few ordered the ‘big’ mains, whereas we had taken the plunge and done quite a few too many at once.

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