Thursday, June 13, 2013

Royal Warsaw, Elmwood Park, NJ

Many people find it easy to overlook Polish cuisine. While not as flashy as French, or as well known as Italian, it stands up against them very well. In general, you'll find Polish food remarkably simple, but very comforting. This is no-nonsense, straightforward, good food. I've had the pleasure of having authentic Polish food on several occasions, and I've never left the table hungry or unhappy. It's certainly worth a try.

At a very reasonable price, I enjoyed a lunch special listed as a "Polish Steak" at a great Polish restaurant named the Royal Warsaw. The main event was, naturally, a large piece of meat- but it was a pork steak, rather than a beef steak. It appeared to be seasoned in a fashion similar to a standard beef steak, and seared just like a normal steak.

It was, of course, cooked to just about well done- it is Pork after all. Despite "well done" being a dirty word in the world of beef, this steak was still juicy and tender even thought it was cooked well past what I'd consider acceptable for a beef steak. The char on the outside and the general presentation give you the illusion of eating a regular steak, making the clean pork flavor seem all that more an unusual and fascinating experience.

The dish was rounded out with a few roasted potatoes, a red cabbage slaw, and an interesting salad made from sliced pickles. I expected the pickle salad to have a strong tang like I would normally associate with a dill pickle from a jar, but this was a much more subtle pickle with a very mild acidic tang that paired well with the pork steak- it was enough acid to balance the rich meat, but was light enough that it didn't get in the way of the meat.- A smart pairing.

I would heartily recommend the Royal Warsaw. The food is different than you would expect at a high quality restaurant, the prices are very reasonable.Overall the food is of high quality, and really gives you a sense that Eastern Europe has a very strong, no-nonsense, comfort food sensibility that's easy to appreciate once you try it. If you find yourself in the area, you should also stop by Piast- the authentic Polish Deli down the road where you can find all manner of authentic Polish provisions and take out food. The area boasts the largest Polish community on the East Coast, and it shows in the quality of the food at both places.

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