Monday, August 22, 2011

Eat Around the World - Poland

On Saturday, Jason and I went to a Polish restaurant in Walnut Creek called Chopin Cafe & Restaurant (click here for the Yelp review). We're all about trying to find places with good reviews, but you often have to go into San Francisco to get some of the better ones, but we were excited when Chopin Cafe & Restaurant came up.

Again, like a lot of these places, the outside was nothing grand and looked more like a coffee shop or small cafe (which I guess it technically is a cafe). I was even more surprised when I walked in and saw how small it was. A handful of tables to sit two people, and then a few more of those squished together to hold up to four. When a party of seven came in shortly after us, they practically had to turn the restaurant upside down to accommodate them. The entire restaurant held probably 30 people, and boy did they quickly occupy all of those seats. This place was hopping, which is always a good sign!

We read on Yelp that the herring was amazing for an appetizer. To be honest, I didn't even know what herring was and didn't read the description on the menu, but just let Jason go ahead and order it since we both had read that it was good. So, I must say I was quite surprised to see raw fish come out all fancied up with tomatoes, pickles, and onions.

Jason took a bite before I was able to, and the first thing he said was, "You're not going to like this." I am a huge texture person, and he said that it was even a bit difficult for him. I am trying to be braver and bolder though, so I made myself try it. I had a piece and wow - it was not good. I mean, it's raw fish. It was slimy, mushy, and so odd tasting (and odd is my polite way of saying nasty). I wouldn't attribute this to the restaurant, I'm pretty sure this is just what herring tastes like no matter where you get it. (Upon trying it, I went back and read the reviews on yelp about the herring, and most of them agreed with my description - guess we read the wrong review...)

For our entrees we wanted to make sure we went classic Polish. Entree number 1 was pierogi, which are stuffed dumplings. We had half ours filled with potato and cheese, while the other half was beef. They were then topped with caramelized onions.

The dumplings were great, especially with the caramelized onions (however, expect to burp them up for the rest of your evening...not fun). They were extremely flavorful, but also very heavy. Two or three of them about did me in. I'm not a huge ground beef fan though, so I liked the potato and cheese better than the beef.

Entree number 2 (which Jason ate 95% of) was Beef Roulade - rolled slices of tender beef stuffed with onions and peppers with gravy and potato dumplings on the side. Huge portion size!

Jason was in love with this entree. The beef was so tender and extremely flavorful. Again, I'm particular about my beef, so the slow-cooked way is not my favorite. The potato dumplings and gravy were delicious, and I might even say I liked the plain potato dumplings the best.

We had planned on getting blintzes for dessert (with raspberry and whipped cream), but we were way too stuffed from the hearty Polish meal.

However, our server did give us a free piece of pineapple cake to take home (which I am eating right now as I write this...of course with some Open Nature's vanilla bean ice cream...yummy). Some people have complained about the service at Chopin, but we had no complaints. It is a family run restaurant, and there was one server for the entire night. He did such a great job considering the crowd. He was a great host and very friendly. There was a 3-year-old girl at the table next to us, and he was so sweet to her, calling her princess all night.

Overall, we gave the restaurant a 7.5 - rating it as good. I think I'm just not into the hearty cuisine that the Polish eat, so it lowered my rating a bit. Plus the herring was a huge mistake that somewhat tainted the experience. I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you like this sort of food, though. Plus, they serve breakfast Friday - Sunday, which looks quite good.

1 comment:

The Waltenburgs said...

hi becks! your blog continues to make me hungry! i'm with you when it comes to texture... not so sure about the herring, but that pierogi looks sooooo yummy! glad to see you're enjoying married life... and food. :)