It took several months to arrange for this review of Polish Cottage on East Broadway. Not being Polish, or as far as I know, never having had authentic Polish cuisine, I had to find someone of Polish ancestry and culture to accompany us. How else would I be able to know if the dishes Polish Cottage serves are AUTHENTIC?
By an accident of fate, I mentioned this to friend Rosemary who proudly announced that she comes from fine Polish and Slovenian stock and a family that prepared authentic Polish food almost daily. What great fortune!
I made reservations for 3 at 6:30 PM. The place was not particularly busy. But by the time we left, there was a line of people out the front door waiting to be seated. Apparently, we are only the most recent locals to discover a little bit of Poland in Tucson, AZ.
Polish Cottage is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall in an older shopping center. Once inside, however, the place comes alive with bright eastern European colors and décor.
Once seated, our first order of business was to choose a wine. Who knew that wines come from Bulgaria? The capitol of Bulgaria is Sophia, which is about a thousand kilometers south of Warsaw, Poland.
Ms. Rosemary ordered a glass of Sophia Chardonnay. Ms. Karen & I order the Sauvignon Blanc, also from Bulgaria. In both cases, the wine was actually quite a bit better than we imagined it would be. Certainly, you can get better wine from Napa-Sonoma or New Zealand or even Chile & Argentina. But we were here to experience authentic Polish dining and apparently, in the wine department, Bulgaria is as close as they could come to Polish grapes.
Soup & Appetizers
I had a cup of Zurek; a soup with a sour rye base with pieces of sausage & egg. This was something new to me and I liked it.
We all shared in the appetizer: Potato Pancakes hot off the griddle. Ms. Rosemary declared them “definitely authentic and tasted just about as good as my mother’s. Served with sour cream – nom, nom, nom!”
We enjoyed two of the four types of dinner pierogis they offer. One kind was filled with potato & cheese with caramelized onions added on top. I thought they were excellent! The others were filled with “sweet farmer’s cheese with sour cream on top”. This latter was definitely the sweeter of the two kinds.
Ms. Rosemary says both were entirely authentic. “The dough was thin, light & hand-crafted and tasted just like my mother’s – not thick like Mrs. T’s that can be purchased in the frozen food section of most grocery stores."
She also explained the finer points of making authentic pierogi dough: “Actually, the uncooked “dumplings” (similar to large ravioli) are boiled and then when cooked are sautéed in butter. Ravioli are also cooked this way and then added to the sauce or the sauce is poured over top of them to serve. “
I had a small dinner salad that was typical American through and through. Ms. Rosemary proffered that “In my home growing up, the standard salads were dandelion salad from the yard with vinegar & oil dressing or leaf lettuce from our garden, coleslaw w/vinegar & oil & carraway seeds or grated cabbage with sour cream or mayo. None of this head lettuce with grated carrots, croutons, etc.”
Nevertheless, my little “American” salad was very fresh and the small size left me with plenty of appetite for my main course: veal schnitzel ($19.50). This dish is 6 oz. of breaded & fried veal cutlet served with mushroom sauce and pan-fried or mashed potatoes, and a cucumber salad. The salad had small pieces of cucumber, onion & spices with a sour cream/vinegar dressing. I thought it was very good and Ms. Rosemary told us that it is “like my mother used to make.”
Ms. Rosemary had a stuffed cabbage that was filled with ground pork, rice, & spices. She said, “My mother used a 3-meat combination of beef, pork & veal, so the taste was a bit different, but still very good.”
For dessert, we ordered Dessert Pierogis: 3 on a plate with whipped cream topping– we ordered blueberry & strawberry. Ms. Rosemary told us that she had never had these before but considered them “heavenly. Just the right temperature filling so your mouth wasn’t burned and made with fresh fruit, not preserves, so the flavors were crisp and not overly sweet.”
The Only Disappointment
We also ordered one Angel Wing, a dessert pastry dough quick-fried in oil so they are light & fluffy and then dusted with powdered sugar. Ms. Rosemary said that “although the pastry for these seemed the right thickness (they need to be thin), the taste of the lard used was overpowering – so I suspect they were a couple days old and not made fresh that day. They were the only disappointing part of the meal, in my opinion.”
The service was very good, even after the place got very busy. For us non-Polish patrons, it helped that the wait staff was good at explaining the various dishes with the unpronounceable names.
Do we wholeheartedly recommend Polish Cottage to our friends & family? We do indeed!
Monday – Thursday: 11 AM to 8 PM; Friday: 11 AM to 9 PM; Saturday: 8:30 AM
to 9 PM; Sunday: 8:30 AM to 8 PM.