Monday, February 14, 2011

The Polish Club

"Allo!" said the voice.  Odd, I thought - surely the Polish Club would answer with some sort of "Good morning, can I help you?"  "Er, is this the Polish Club?" I enquired hesitantly.  "No, is not Polish Club.  Is a Polish man!" said the voice, full of mirth.  Inadvertent Googling had turned up the wrong number but when I cheekily asked if he had the number of the Club handy, this kindly stranger was more than happy to oblige.  Hence was my first impression of Melbourne's Polish community - helpful, irreverent and quite charming.

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Tucked down a nondescript road in an industrial part of Albion (just to the west of Sunshine) is the Polish Community and Recreation Club which houses a bistro serving up old-country favourites.

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To order, one visits the cashier who produces a receipt to drop into the kitchen, which we duly hand over to a team of gorgeous old Polish ladies moving surprisingly swiftly as they dish up bowls of soup and plates of cabbage rolls.

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"Soup", $3

Loving this classic chicken noodle soup.  The broth was quite mild, very honest, with lots of perfect al dente noodles.  A big grandmotherly-bosomed hug for $3!

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 Tripe soup, $6

Thick but not too rich tripe soup.  Grandpa seemed to like this.  I did taste a little of the broth and it was very soothing.

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Borsch, $5

No, we have not skipped to coffee and cake - this was the beetroot soup!  It actually tasted like warm beetroot juice, quite thin, with a lemony tinge as well as savoury undertones.  The pate rolls it came with were like a drier-style sausage roll.  Interesting!

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Cabbage roll, $5

Insanely generous cabbage rolls for just five bucks each.  Big leaves of pickled cabbage stuffed with rice and minced meat, probably pork.  The sauce was somewhat like white sauce or cream of mushroom soup.  The family loved these although I did find them quite rich.  I would say half the patrons were tucking into these so they must be a particular favourite here at the Polish Club.

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Polish sausage with cabbage, $7

This was the best sausage ever!  Its skin pierced with a little pop as a smoky, meaty scent was released and juices spread across the plate.  So yummy, rich, juicy and porky.  The cabbage was really delicious, cooked perfectly, not at all soggy or bland.

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Beef gulash with gnocchi, $11

Very tender beef chunks with pillowy gnocchi in a rich beef sauce.  The execution was great but there's something about the paprika in gulash that I don't really like - it's a sweet paprika that is used, I believe, and to me it has the sickly sweet smell of bandaids.  If you like gulash, I am sure you would enjoy this dish.  The meat was certainly perfectly cooked and it complemented the well-cooked carrots and delicious cabbage well.

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Pierogi with meat and cabbage, $9

Go, go, go there now just to eat these pierogi dumplings!  Al dente pastry with a tasty, lean meat and cabbage filling.  They have a delicious, interesting minced meaty kind of sprinkle.  MMMMMM!  A dollop of sour cream would take them to the next level.

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Herrings, $4.50

I was so surprised that I liked this.  The herring was rich, pleasantly oily, like tuna turned up full blast.  This would be so delicious thinly squashed on some great bread.

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I loved our lunch here.  It may not be the type of food I could eat every day but it was warm, hearty and delicious.  I could quite happily eat a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a plate of pierogi...or two.

Polish Sport and Recreation Centre
Address:  19 Carrington Drive, Albion (map)
Phone:  9363 3941
Hours:  Mon 5-8 pm, Tues closed, Wed 4-11pm, Thurs 4-8pm, Fri 2-11pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm - CALL AHEAD AS HOURS CAN CHANGE

Wheelchair Accessibility
Ramp to enter.

17 comments:

  1. You are amazing, I love your wonderful sense of Adventure Lauren. These are just precious experiences.

    I've suggested to SBS to invite you to the March SBS Food Journey fest in Melb.. numbers are limited so not sure if they can do it, but I am thinking of you.

    Reckon you'll be perfect blogger to invite to the event.

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  2. Thang, that was your doing! They got in touch Fri. Thank you so much - I was so chuffed.

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  3. I have never eaten Polish food but it looks really interesting. I am so envious of your Footscray food adventures, it looks like you have been to so many delicious, cheap and interesting places in your adventures!
    Your blog was invaluable when I was visiting my brother in Braybrook and I was looking for somewhere to eat. I took a bunch of friends to Abesha and it was fantastic. Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

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  4. ooooh, this looks good. Might have to add it to the list! Haven't commented for a while, so happy new year and all that...

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  5. The cabbage roll looks really appealing. Where and how do you find these places?

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  6. Haha, you do go to places I'd not even heard of! In fact I've not even been to some of the suburbs you've eaten in! :D

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  7. Mouth watery noodle soup is suits for cold weather. I love the dishes in this blog. I feel hungry now.

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  8. I love Polish food - spent a few weeks in Krakow and Warsaw a few years ago and just loved it. Babka in Brunswick street had pirogi on the menu for a while. Milk soup is also a favourite as well as crusty bread smothered in schmaltz - would not get the heart foundation tick! Just read about you in The Age - thanks for the hot tips

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  9. I don't drop by this blog often (perhaps I should)... but I just love how you find these unusual places! The adventurous spirit in you is inspirational.

    40 years in the West, and I'm still learning!

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  10. Can anyone recommend a fabulous Pole who smokes their own sausages and other cuts, in Melbourne.

    THanks, hope to hear from you soon.

    Anya

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    1. Hi Anya - I think there are a few butchers/delis out Sunshine and St Albans way that might do their own Polish meats. I have been meaning to visit St Albans soon so will try to check out for you. Barkly Smokehouse are Polish and in Preston http://www.barkly.com.au/. I know it's not Polish but Michael's Deli in Footscray do amazing cured Macedonian sausages. Might be worth asking at that Euro deli at the Vic Market too. Good luck!

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  11. Awesome place! Great tasty food, refreshing Polish beer, friendly staff and utterly free of any pretentious elitist claptrap. Really a diamond find! Thank you for finding this treasure in the west. I will be back to take my folks

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    1. it is my pleasure Owen - isn't it an absolute gem?!

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  12. Just to let you know...pierogi are not typically eaten with sour cream. Go to any restaurants in Poland and they never serve meat pierogi with sour cream.

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    1. Noted, anon! Love pierogi so much. The Beaufort in Carlton are doing a pierogi night about once a month, on a Monday. Gotta go check that out.

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  13. Looks like so much tasty fun! So cheap too:)

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