For the last few years, I’ve been meaning to try Polish Cottage, but always failed to make it through the door. Now, I’ve added it to my short list of restaurants serving up hearty comfort food and a richly satisfying dining experience.
My companions had eaten there before, and fearlessly ordered a cup of the strange-sounding Pickle Soup, or Zupa Ogórkowa, ($3.50 cup, $4.85 bowl). Any suspicions I had melted away once the beefy broth passed my lips. The saltiness of the soup, the vinegar notes from the pickled vegetables, and the fresh dill made this soup irresistible—we had to order a second cup to allow everyone to get their fill. We also ordered a small bowl of Polish Vegetable Salad, which turned out to be similar to mustard potato salad with the addition of diced apples, which gave it a lighter texture and sweeter taste.
Another first for me was the Beef Stew with Potato Pancake ($13.95). The pancake is folded around a hearty helping of beef and vegetable stew, like a dinner plate-sized Polish taco. The stew had a consistency similar to shredded beef and tasted of red wine and onions. Any extra liquid was soaked up into the creamy interior of the gorgeously crisped and golden brown potato pancake, and sour cream was generously drizzled across the top.
One dish on the menu I was familiar with, at least, was pierogi ($8.99 for eight, $10.95 for ten, $12.90 for twelve). We chose both the potato and cheese pierogi and the sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi, with sauerkraut and bacon on the side for mixing in (additional toppings $1). Our decisions turned out to be good ones: the pierogi themselves were firm but not undercooked, and the flavorful fillings were complemented by the bacon and sauerkraut. The sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi was my favorite of the two, with a slight tang and a rich mushroom flavor. Polish Cottage’s sauerkraut is worth a special mention: its not-too-intense flavor indicated it was prepared “correctly” and rinsed prior to being cooked, making the end result a cabbage capable of winning new converts.
Our final entrée was the Polish Combo Plate ($17.95 serves one person, $34.00 serves two), which featured a stuffed cabbage roll, more pierogi, smoked Polish sausage, a roll of bread, and a bowl of Hunter’s Stew. I found this to be a great deal for the variety alone.
The cabbage roll was stuffed with a juicy pork and rice filling, and the rich red tomato sauce ladled over the top added a bright burst of flavor that left me wishing Polish Cottage sold jars I could take home. For this round of pierogi, we tried the Sweet Farmer’s Cheese variety, which comes sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of sour cream. Our server described it as more of a “dessert” pierogi. The smoked sausage was crisped from the pan and went well with the sauerkraut. The roll was chewy and yeasty with a glossy, firm crust, and was ideal for sopping up the juice from the Hunter’s Stew, my favorite element of the Combo Plate. Made from a variety of meats combined with shredded cabbage, this stew was rich, juicy and tender, with just the right amount of salt and an intriguing tang.
We finished our meal with Polish Cottage’s Polish Apple Cake, or Szarlotka. We had been warned that it was less sweet than “normal” cake, but for me it was, as Goldilocks once said, “just right.” Served warm, it was moist and dense; the thinly sliced apples in the middle make the overall experience more reminiscent of pie. This is a good thing, in my opinion, and I opted to take a second piece home for breakfast.
4520 E Broadway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85711