Posted by: Kath Usitalo | December 3, 2010

Road Food Report: Annual Comfort Food Fix

Polish Village Cafe opened as a hotel in 1925, in Hamtramck's heyday

Now the holiday season can begin. We college girlfriends had our annual Christmas luncheon in Hamtramck, the city-within-the-city of Detroit that was once a magnet for Polish immigrants who came to work at the auto plants.

A handful of Polish restaurants remain even as the city has become a United Nations of immigrants, with Middle Eastern eateries seemingly dominating the dining scene.

Last December we ate at Polonia Restaurant, and it was great. But this year we returned to our favorite, the neighboring Polish Village Cafe.

We still call it Zosia’s for the woman—long departed—who ran the place when it opened as a restaurant in 1976. (But then we still call our alma mater the University of Detroit instead of University of Detroit Mercy because the two schools merged after we’d graduated.)

The building dates to 1925 when it opened as a gentleman’s hotel. Their original rathskellar, six steps below street level, is the cozy restaurant that those who don’t like waiting in line for a table or sitting elbow-to-elbow at the closely placed tables would call crowded.

There’s a long bar on one wall where you can order Polish beer and, I understand, a wide variety of vodkas. Our waitress was delightful, catering to our gabby group with a smile and charming accent (I failed to get her name). Prices hover around $8 for a full meal that includes a choice of salad or cup of soup (the dill pickle soup is a must!) and moist rye bread. The menu is in Polish and English and with so many specialties—potato pancakes, pork chops, stuffed green peppers, pan fried lake perch—it’s a tough choice.

So I settled on the Polish Plate for a taste of kielbasa, pierogi, stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with gravy…the definition of comfort food for a great gathering with longtime friends.

Bring cash: Polish Village Cafe does not accept credit cards.

Open 7 days; located at 2990 Yemans off of Joseph Campau in Hamtramck; 313-874-5726

Sample homemade specialties on the Polish Plate

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