Country 028 – Poland (Cafe Polonez)

polonez
Location
: 195 Roncevalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://cafepolonez.ca/

Like Cho Dang Soon Tofu, this is a place that I’ve not only visited before, but actually written about on another blog.  But hey, if it’s good, it’s good.

A lot of the food here is actually Hungarian — given the restaurant’s name, I figured I’d order off the “Polish Classics” section of the menu.  I went with the Hunter’s Stew, which is described on the menu as “slow cooked sauerkraut with slices of sausage and pork, served with rye bread.”

We started, however, with the cheddar and potato pierogies; they were pretty much pierogi perfection, with a tender, perfectly chewy exterior encasing a deliciously creamy potato filling.  The little cup of golden caramelized onions easily puts them over-the-top.

The stew, on the other hand, was probably the weakest thing I’ve had at Cafe Polonez.  Not that it was particularly bad; it was actually quite tasty.  But even with the chunks of sausage and pork, it was essentially just a big plate of sauerkraut with some added richness from being cooked with the meat.  It would make for an amazing side dish, but as a main meal it gets a bit monotonous.

Cafe Polonez - pierogies Cafe Polonez - Hunter's Stew

Country 003 – Cuba (La Cubana)

cubana
Location392 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.lacubana.ca/

I wasn’t even sure if I was going to write about La Cubana — it feels more trendy than authentic, but I’ve got 196 countries to get through, so I’ve got to take ’em where I can get ’em.

I started with the Corn Frituras, which are kind of like hush puppies, only way lighter and fluffier.  Dipped in the perfectly tangy sauce that came on the side, they were addictive and amazing.  I could eat about a million of them.

One of the reasons I wanted to check this place out was the episode of You Gotta Eat Here that featured La Cubana.  In particular, the Medianoche, which comes with braised short rib, looked quite enticing.

Apparently the brunch Medianoche is completely different, because I got a ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top.  I googled it, and it seems like this is a more authentic version of this dish (sans the fried egg).  I probably wouldn’t have ordered it if I had known, because I’m not a huge fan of ham and cheese, but yay for authenticity I guess?

Anyway, it was a fine ham and cheese sandwich; there just wasn’t anything particularly interesting about it.  My biggest issue was the bun, which was unpleasantly dense, and honestly just got in the way.  The sandwich was also a huge, greasy mess, so after a couple of bites I tossed the top half of the bun and ate the rest of the sandwich with a fork and knife.

The sandwich comes with rice and beans, red cabbage slaw, and tostones.  Rice and beans has a tendency to be a bit dry, but not this version. It’s definitely above average.  The slaw was kind of like a much more subtle sauerkraut — also tasty.  The tostones (essentially a mashed and fried plantain) had a pretty good flavour, but had the approximate texture of rubber cement that’s just about to harden. I’ve never had tostones before, but I’m going to assume something went wrong there.

La Cubana - Corn Frituras La Cubana - the brunch medianoche