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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Restaurant Nadwislanska at the Polish Club, Ashfield

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
Saturday 4.00pm-10.00pm
Sunday 12.00pm-9.00pm

Polonez smallgoods deli downstairs open
Wednesday 5.00pm-8.00pm
Thursday 5.00pm-8.00pm
Sunday 1.00pm-5.00pm

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Ashfield - Ashfield Hotel
Ashfield - Crocodile Farm Hotel
Ashfield - Shanghai Night (Jul08) and (Mar06)
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/08/2007 11:58:00 pm


  • At 11/09/2007 7:51 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That donut looked heavenly! I'm half polish and the food reminded me very much of what my grandmother used to cook up (pre-vegan of course!)
    And did I spy bean mix??? :D Great post as always.

  • At 11/09/2007 12:39 pm, Blogger greber said…

    I'm really nice supprised you wrote about polish food :) (i'm polish, living in sydney at the moment).

    If you want to taste a perfect Paczek (donut) you should go to Warsaw on Chmielna Street, somewhere in the middle of it there is a place where they sell Paczki with different stuffing, like rose jam, hot chockolate with almonds on them, and they are still warm/hot when you get them. It's a popular place in Warsaw, easy to find.

  • At 11/09/2007 3:45 pm, Blogger girl30 said…

    Oh my gosh! My nan used to cook us placki's ALL the time when we were little, we would have them along with the dumplings filled with either potato or cabbage, the cabbage ones were my favourite.. YUM!

    thanks for the wander down memory land : )

  • At 11/10/2007 12:12 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oooh that Paczki looks delicious and how enormous is that pork knuckle lol? I thought Una's was dinosaur big but that is much bigger. Thanks for the link to my Iron Chef story too-you're the best! :D

  • At 11/10/2007 1:52 pm, Blogger Suzer said…

    That looks amazing...I miss Polish food:/

  • At 11/10/2007 11:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hmm is it just me or did someone get a new camera~!

  • At 11/11/2007 1:20 pm, Blogger M.H. said…

    Never had Polish food but they look awfully YUMMY... And nice foodtography too! Theyre all mking me hungry....

  • At 11/11/2007 5:50 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi bean_mix - lol @ bean mix. Yes indeed. And the donut was pretty good, but the garlic sausages were even better!

    Hi tomasz - I've never been to Poland but I like the sound of this donut place! Esp the hot chocolate version with almonds. Yum!

    Hi girl30 - Mmm I'm getting craving for another potato pancake right about now! And you're welcome - I had no idea there were so many readers with Polish backgrounds!

    Hi Lorraine E - The pork knuckle was enough for two, but yes, I do prefer my pork knuckle with lots of crackling!

    Your Iron Chef post was too good not to post to! The pics and descriptions are brilliant!

    Hi Suzer - I'm always intigued by Polish food. In a strange way its complete differentness to Asian food is positively 'exotic'. lol

    Hi Jimmyly - It's just you. No new camera but I'm always experimenting in Photoshop :)

    Hi MyF - I'm always keen to try new cuisines. And thanks :)

  • At 11/12/2007 9:17 pm, Blogger Rojo said…

    Where do you find these places? It looks GREAT!! i just wish i can drag my friends to places like this to try something different, keep up the good work!! Rojoe Roger (im having a lot of trouble logging into my google account)

  • At 11/14/2007 12:36 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Roger - I'm actually keen to get to all the community clubs in Sydney eventually :) And I'm sure you could drag a few friends along. I think every meal should be an adventure!

  • At 3/13/2009 4:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey the store Tomasz spoke about (with the great paczki) I think is called Blikle right? This IS the best "doughnut" shop in Warszawa, and it's been around since pre-WWII !!!!

  • At 3/13/2009 5:09 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Kasia - Would love to go to Poland and try the paczki myself. Mmm... nothing like a bit of food tourism :)

  • At 6/28/2009 12:46 pm, Blogger sydneyfoodie said…

    I've been looking for Pierogies...thanks for the review. I went to the Polish Club over 10 years ago and sounds like the decor has not changed!
    Off to Ashfield now.

  • At 6/28/2009 11:55 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Sydneyfoodie - Ahh for a home-style place like this, there's something strangely reassuring about dated decor. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Ashfield and satiated those peirogi cravings :)

  • At 3/19/2011 5:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We just rang them to book a table for tonight (Sat 19/03/2011) and were told sorry the cook has resigned so the restaurant is closed. After looking at the delicious photos we are very disappointed. Perhaps they can get the cook to come back or find another polish specialist to take over. Tonight we turn again to Italian delights.

  • At 3/21/2011 3:07 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Thanks for the tip. That's such a shame! I hope it does re-open soon.


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