Of the Polish restaurants where I’ve eaten, each has at least one distinguishing characteristic. Karczma, with its Epcot-Poland vibe, has spaciousness. Lomzynianka offers novel (to some) intimacy and also a novel (to all) BYOB policy. Krolewskie Jadlo has knights! (Okay, and probably the most expansive menu. They carry some gamier meat dishes and their inclusion of a vegetarian section with at least one soy meat product would make some people I know very happy).
PSC Cafeteria (177 Kent St., Brooklyn, NY), tucked just off Manhattan Avenue, has few of these things. If you’re a vegetarian, it’s likely your meal will begin and end with potatoes. It’s fairly quiet, save a seemingly endless loop of Polish news blaring from a corner flat screen. Atmospherically, the closest analogue is maybe the common area at a retirement villa. But the food is fantastic, very cheap and you get free juice with your meal (kompot, which tastes like refreshingly crisp Minute Maid Berry Cooler). The mushroom dumplings that come heaped in bowls of spicy red borscht are the best I’ve had, as are their Pierogis Ruskie, satisfyingly thick and served in a broth of butter and chopped bacon. Staple dishes like bigos (hunters stew), stuffed cabbage and the Hungarian Pancake (potato pancake stuffed with goulash) are easy to split. A well-chosen $30 order, dessert and all, could easily feed (and sufficiently stuff) four people.
Chris Tonucci feels some embarrassment when he takes pictures of food, but he’ll do it anyway. He lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He enjoys simple meals, The Replacements and the Heat that stars Burt Reynolds.
Photo credit: Chris Tonucci