Cwikla z chrzanem beetroot and horseradish sauce $3.80
The smell of garlic and smoked smallgoods is enough to make you weak at the knees.
We'd arrived early for dinner at the Polish Club in Ashfield, and I'd forgotten all about the deli with local treats downstairs. It doesn't take long for us to step across the threshold. To my left are baskets of bread rolls, sticky jam donuts and squares of cheesecake embedded with fragrant poppy seeds. Surrounding shelves are laden with jars of cherry jam, packets of instant borscht, parcels of buckwheat, hefty servings of sauerkraut... there are crinkly bars of chocolate, cartons of cherry juice and rainbow bags of childrens sweets.
But we're more immediately drawn to the glass deli counter on our right. Fat fingers of wiejska garlic sausage ($14.90/kg) languish with serdelki thick frankfruits ($11.90/kg) alongside fat ribboned wedzonka ham speck ($15.90/kg). Zeberka wedzone wieprzowe smoked ribs ($13.90/kg) nestle with golonka wedzona smoked trotters ($9.90/kg). The samples are generous and free-flowing, so too is their attentiveness and advice.
Konfitura z wisni whole fruit cherry jam $4.00
A Paczki Polish donut, round and golden, and encrusted with a sugary glaze, cannot be resisted as a pre-dinner snack. The donut is soft and airy, light on any sense of grease, and filled with a small sweet splodge of dark cherry jam.
Paczki Polish donut $2.00
Upstairs is where you will find the modest dining room, along with two community halls and a bar that serves ridiculously cheap wine and beer. The decor is straight out of the 1970s, probably quite literally, with orange seated metal chairs, lace tablecloths with scalloped edges in finest plastic, and even a branch decorated like a Christmas tree in the corner - very early and very late - it's quite hard to tell.
Pierogi ruskie cheese and potato dumplings $10.00
We are a group of nine tonight and share a selection of entrees to start. The pierogi are up first, small filled dumplings that are more delicate than I'd expected. We sample the pork version as well as the cheese and potato ones. They're also listed as available with blueberry, a dessert version we presume.
Pierogi z miesem meat dumplings $10.00
Golabki z ziemniakanti cabbage rolls with potatoes $14.00
Cabbage rolls are thick solid parcels packed with a meat and onion concoction that reminds me of mushy meatloaf.
Placki ziemniaczane potato pancakes $7.00
The crowd favourite is the potato pancake, a honey-coloured disc of golden fried potato shreds, impossibly crunchy and perfect with the smoothness of sour cream.
Watrobka z kurczaka chicken liver $13.00
But I'm also taken with the chicken liver, delicately seared and generously portioned with sides of bean salad, coleslaw, garden salad and two mounds of potato.
Borsecz w filizance beetroot soup in a cup $3.00
The borsecz beetroot soup is warm and sweet. Alarmingly it's compared to the heated dregs of a tin of beetrot slices. Disturbingly, I can see their point. The Christmas-patterned serviette adds a festive touch though.
Sznycei po widensku vienna schnitzel $15.00
Vienna schnitzel is a rather unwieldy slab of crumb-encrusted veal. A squeeze of lemon helps, but the meat is a little dry and chewy in texture.
Sznycei po widensku vienna schnitzel no egg, with gravy $15.00
Kurczak devollate chicken devollate $20.00
Chicken devollate is also a little dry but the pork cutlet is moist and juicy.
Kotlet schabowy pork cutlet $14.00
Pieczeri z sosem pieczarkowym roast pork with mushrooms $15.00
Roast pork arrives in a slather of mushroom gravy, with slices of meat that are reasonably tender.
Golonka pork knuckle $21.00
Four of us had ordered the pork knuckle under a promise of crackling, however a communication barrier fails us, despite our best intentions. Our friendly but often distracted waitress nods at the mention of "crackling" and "hard", but the huge joint of pork that approaches our table has a distinct wobble when it arrives.
The pork is luscious with fatty moistness, rich and decadent in its shiny pinkness. It's a beast of a portion size, seemingly unconquerable, and the sense of overwhelment is not helped by the sagging flaps of fat-laden skin.
Only one person manages to eat the whole knuckle, the rest of us take home half in takeaway containers. The meat is lovely and sweet, but a mound of tart sauerkraut or pickles would have helped cut through the richness.
Okocim Polish beer
Ciasto tortowe chocolate torte $3.50
There's not much dessert available by the time we finish mains. The restaurant had been one-third full at 6pm, but by 7pm only a table of two arrive during our stay. At 7pm there are two slices of cheese and poppyseed cake and five slices of chocolate torte.
The chocolate torte is a little dry, the top half of the cheese and poppyseed cake is mostly eaten. We've had much better coffees before too (stick to the tea which comes with a slice of lemon).
Sero-makowiec cheese and poppy seed cake $3.50
This isn't supposed to be high class dining or fancy fare. For the Polish community that seeks homestyle comfort cooking, this is reasonably priced and generously portioned. I'd definitely return for the potato pancakes and the chicken livers. I'd also been keen to try the tripe soup with bread rolls ($9.00) and roast duck ($22.00), which was unavailable the night we dined.
The deli was indeed a highlight, and I thoroughly recommend the garlic sausages and speck. We've already finished the sauerkraut ($4.50). A kilo of cabbage is easy to polish.
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Restaurant Nadwislanska at the Polish Club
73-75 Norton Street, Ashfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9798 7469
Wednesday to Friday 4.00pm-9.00pm
Polonez smallgoods deli downstairs open
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Ashfield - Ashfield Hotel
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Ashfield - Shanghai Night (Jul08) and (Mar06)
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11/08/2007 11:58:00 pm