Thursday, April 23, 2009

Meat-and-Potato Fans Rejoice: Polonia Polish Restaurant Delivers the Goods

If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of person like me, this restaurant is for you. Polonia Polish Restaurant in Winter Springs has the goods, and the goods are good.

The Polish people are known for being a hearty bunch. The food is much the same. Think sausage, beef, potatoes and cabbage. Poland is located between Germany to the west and various Slavic countries to the east. The food seems to borrow heavily from both cultures.

Polonia is located in an old Captain D’s fast food restaurant on 17-92. The façade of the building is unmistakable, no matter how many coats of paint have been applied since the seafood shop closed. The old booths have been ripped out, but the basic layout of the store is similar, and the old fast food, non-slip tile remains in the dining room. Personal touches about the dining room, however, give the place a decidedly homey feel.

My guest and I started with Pierogis, boiled Polish dumplings stuffed with mashed potatoes and onions. Our three pierogis were topped with caramelized onions and served with sour cream. Cheese and meat were also available as fillings. We enjoyed one a piece, and fought over the third. They reminded me somewhat of Chinese pot stickers filled with mashed potatoes.

I chose to go the super-hearty route, so I ordered the Big Polish Platter. The platter was a smorgasbord of four Polish favorites, but a smaller sampling of each item was served so as not to overwhelm lesser appetites. I dove right into the kielbasa, a nicely grilled link of Polish sausage, with a prominent smoky flavor. The sauerkraut was a nice surprise in that it was cooked with bits of sausage that really made a normally bland side a major treat. The stuffed cabbage was also a winner. The cabbage was stuffed with seasoned ground beef in a loaf. The beef inside was so light and fluffy, it was really more like a meat mousse than a meatloaf. Two more periogies completed the Polish platter.

My guest chose the Pork Tenderloin. The thinly sliced, sautéed cutlets were tender and topped with caramelized peaches and cranberries. The pork was served on a bed of potato dumplings with a side of fried, red potatoes. With a lesser appetite, my guest enjoyed Polish leftovers the next day.

Other dishes on the menu include beef goulash, blood sausage, several sandwiches, blintzes, potato pancakes and borscht. I hear the Polish Easter Soup (Zurek) is delicious. I’ll be sure to try it on my next visit.

For dessert, I went with the Poppy Seed Cake because I am a fan of poppy seed muffins. I think I’ll stick with muffins. The poppy seeds in the cake at Polonia were simply too much. Think a layer of seeds, topped with frosting, a layer of seeds, frosting, seeds, frosting, you get the picture. A poppy seed muffin is a muffin with poppy seeds. Apparently, a poppy seed cake is poppy seeds, period. I was picking seeds out of my teeth all night. I’d like to try the strudel next time.

Service at Polonia was less than stellar. We were served by two people but neither one seemed to be in charge of our table. We had to just wave down the nearest one whenever we needed something. Near the end of the meal, both servers went missing. We finally got up and tracked down one of the servers at the front counter hanging out. When we told her we were ready to pay, she said she would write up a ticket and asked us what we had ordered. Isn’t that her job to know?

The Polish people I know personally are honest, no-nonsense, salt-of-the-earth-type folks. The food served at Polonia is much the same: honest, no-nonsense, meat-and-potato-type meals. If you come with a hearty appetite, and don’t have high expectations for the environment or the service, you’ll enjoy Polonia. If not, I would recommend the food, but suggest you try takeout or purchase some items from their deli at the front of the restaurant – the place where we found our server hanging out.

3 Meat-and-Potato Meals out of 5

Polonia Website

Polonia Polish Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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