It is widely known that Greenpoint, Brooklyn is a predominantly Polish area. So this is where to find authentic Polish food. The restaurant we tried is Karczma on 136 Greenpoint Avenue. This place was highly recommended by a couple of people who are recent arrivals from Poland, so on the strength of their recommendation we tried it, and we were not disappointed. The place is relatively easy to get to by subway (G line to Greenpoint Ave.) or the East River Ferry (India Street stop).
While the restaurant’s decor is rather kitschy, resembling an old country farmhouse with waitresses dressed in traditional folk dresses, the food is solidly amazing. Traditional, plentiful, tasty, and reasonably priced – a home run in my book.
Since it was our first time there, we ordered what we considered were traditional Polish dishes – White Borscht Soup, Village Style Fried Potatoes, a Grilled Plate for Three, a Plate of Polish Specialties. It’s a good thing we did not order more because it turned out that we had more food than we expected.
The White Borsch served in a bread bowl with a side of mashed potatoes with thick cut bacon, was delicious! Garlicky, creamy with a hint of dill, tangy from the soured flour, smokey from the kielbasa and bacon, with a varying consistency depending on whether you added the mashed potatoes and or scraped bread off the “bowl”; we couldn’t get enough. This soup was so hearty that this could be considered a light meal on it’s own. This is definitely a must order!
If you are like me and our friend, Phil, who LOVE garlic, you must order the Village Style Fried Potatoes. Incredibly garlicky from the fresh garlic, and a herby aftertaste from the dill, with a sweet, tangy counterpoint from the ketchup served on the side; Phil and I were in heaven. We were considering ordering another bowl when our gargantuan dinner came, so we backed down.
The Grilled Plate for Three is misnamed because it would have easily fed five. It came in a platter heaping with two kinds of kielbasa (smoked and white), chicken kabobs, blood sausage, pork kebabs, pork shoulder, chicken breast, salmon, and bacon. Served with three kinds of dipping sauce – BBQ, garlic, horseradish, a side of roasted potatoes and sauteed cabbage. It was pretty intimidating. The addition of the three kinds of dipping sauces and sauteed cabbage added different flavors to the grilled dishes. I enjoyed the white kielbasa, the chicken kebab, the pork shoulder and salmon. Especially with the sauteed cabbage which was sauteed with prunes to provide a sweet sour counterpoint.
The Plate of Polish Specialties was also a heaping platter of goodness. Piled high with pierogis, potato pancakes, smoked kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, and hunter’s stew, it was a great introduction to traditional Polish food. The stuffed cabbage was meaty and covered with a creamy tomato sauce. The potato pancakes were both crispy and chewy. The hunter stew was rich, sweet, and meaty, with a slight tanginess from being stewed in red wine.
We’re definitely coming back to sample the other dishes! I saw a massive plate sized breaded cutlet being served to a nearby table on our way out which piqued my curiosity. I almost made a U-turn back to our table, but, my stomach said otherwise.