Ξ November 12th, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ 90065, Best Of, Food, Glassell Park |
Hailed by critics and friends alike, for years people have been telling me to check out the restaurant Polka. Despite its proximity, for one reason or another, it just never happened. Then came last Sunday. Recovering from a party the night before, we all had a desperate need for some serious comfort food, and our friend had the solution: Polka.
On the corner of York and Verdugo (that’s the other side of the 2, if you’re confused) Polka sits unassumingly in a little strip mall opposite two different gas stations. We parked on the street (the lot is small and cramped) and headed in.
As you walk in, certainly you’ll notice delicious smell and a certain warmth that only a kitchen full of great food can produce. But first, by God, you’ll notice the décor. I can’t say it reminds me of my grandmother’s house, but it certainly feels like somebody’s grandmother’s house. There are pictures and posters and bumper stickers around the walls, red curtains, and tacky lamps everywhere. Not the Applebee’s kind of tacky signs and table lamps, but the kind that an old couple has been cherishing for 40 or 50 years and their kids can’t wait to get rid of. Meanwhile, the tables are covered nicely by tablecloths, but then, of course, covered by thick, clear plastic that ensures they won’t need to be changed—ever. The décor is odd to say the least, but charming in that grandmotherly way.
On a Sunday night the wait for a table was a good 30 minutes, although on a more recent trip we were seated immediately. Regardless, the service is not fast. The owner, an older man, is very friendly and welcoming and will treat you like family the whole night, but he will never be in a rush.
Before you even order, homemade soup is brought to everybody at the table. It is excellent, and different every time. Next comes a small salad. Also nice, especially when you are starving and still waiting to order. For the entrees you have a lot of options. I’ve heard everything is good, but our favorites are the Pierogis and Kotlets.
Pierogis are Polish dumplings, filled either with potatoes and cheese, sauerkraut and mushrooms (ok, we haven’t tried these yet…) or pork and chicken. Full of flavor, both the meat and the potato pierogis are fantastic. As one friend said, the potato dumplings are “like biting into little clouds.” Light and fluffy, it’s an easy comparison to make. As one who often requires some sort of meat, I prefer the pork and chicken variety, finding the seasoning wonderful and the surrounding dough just the right accompaniment. The kotlet is either pork loin or chicken breaded and fried, covered with sautéed mushrooms. Tasty and perfectly crispy, I was elated to discover that it stays this way hours later when pulled from the fridge, cold, for a midnight snack.
Be warned, the entrées aren’t terribly cheap (about $15-20), but they are very large and filling, almost guaranteeing leftovers. If you’re worried you won’t get enough, for $25 a person, everybody at the table can order something different and will be given all-you-can-eat. Evidently they won’t let you leave until they are sure you are satisfied. Regardless, when you’re done with dinner, they will bring out desert. Homemade custard, sometimes cake, or many other things, out it comes, and always a great finish to the meal.
Polka is awesome. Everybody in there can’t seem to help but love the old man serving them, or his kind (and most definitely younger and beautiful) wife. Their adorable little daughter plays in the back when not roaming the restaurant and smiling. They all say hello when you come in and goodbye as you leave, always in a genuine and heartfelt way.
It’s friendly, it’s family, it’s comfort all wrapped up like one of their little dumplings. I think my friend Joel put it best when he said “if I were Polish-American, it’s the kind of food that would make me nostalgic for my childhood.”
4112 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 90065