07 April 2008

Benito vs. the Polka: Babushka's Kitchen

Today kicks off Salute to Cleveland Week here at BWR. I've spent almost a month up there this year on business, and will be headed back for more in a few weeks. Despite the image problem that Cleveland has in the national psyche, I prefer to celebrate the many positive aspects of The Metropolis of the Western Reserve.

On this most recent trip, I decided I ought to have at least one authentic Polish meal. After all, my sister-in-law is of Polish heritage, and I'm a big fan of pierogies. An assortment of locals and one Polish immigrant all pointed me in the direction of one place: Babushka's Kitchen in Macedonia, Ohio, south of Cleveland.

I strode in around opening time and although I wasn't starving, I went for the Hunter's Feast so that I could try a bit of everything. Apparently it's not a commonly ordered dish; the proprietor came out and asked me, "Hey, are you that guy from Toledo?" Apparently I have a doppelgänger who comes by once a week for this particular menu item.

Let me break it down for you:
  • one stuffed cabbage (gołąbek): cabbage leaves wrapped around ground beef, rice, and other aromatics, all doused in tomato sauce. Hearty and piquant, reminded me a lot of stuffed green peppers from Picadilly.
  • a link of smoked kiełbasa: awesome, good quality sausage here.
  • roasted pork loin with sauerkraut and dumplings: slight disappointment, if only because of the great things done with pork in the South. Enjoyed the slow-roasted sauerkraut.
  • one jumbo potato and cheese pierogi with grilled onion and sour cream: probably my favorite of the bunch, this was a huge, quarter-pound stuffed dumpling of pure carbohydrate joy.
  • and two sides: I tried to talk the waitress out of the side dishes, as I had no intention of clearing the main course, but she wouldn't take no for an answer and suggested that I take the leftovers home since it was supposed to snow that night. I demurred and accepted her "lighter" recommendations of a cucumber salad (really quite refreshing and delicious, almost like pickles) and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy (couldn't quite stomach it given everything else on the plate).
Overall it was a great stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal, and while I wouldn't want to eat like that all the time it was a good winter feast. Plus, I received a year's worth of polka music in one sitting. When I found myself humming along to "Who stole the kishka?" I figured it was time to depart.

Crest of Poland image via Wikipedia article on Poland, released into public domain by the author.

No comments: