The minute we arrived in Wroclaw, we checked in with our host, dropped our luggage on the floor, turned to each other and said “It’s time for some pierogis!”
We excitedly jaunted across Market Square, to the restaurant that we had seen earlier as we walked into town: Pierogarnia. We (correctly) guessed that it’s a restaurant entirely devoted to pierogis!
“Isn’t it weird that we can fly across the world and still eat similar food as back home?” D observed.
And that’s precisely why I love pierogis so much.
Prior to coming to Poland, I’ve only ever had pierogis twice, both times at D’s family Christmas dinner (as his dad’s side of the family is Polish). Before that, it never crossed my mind that another (non-Asian) country might have a food that looks exactly like Chinese dumplings. It was bound to be love at first bite, as dumplings are one of my favorite foods on Earth. Simply put, pierogis are comfortably familiar, yet excitingly different. The perfect way to bridge the gap between home and foreign lands, the old and new.
Pierogarnia has an impressive menu with close to 20 different filling choices, and that’s not even counting the dessert ones! There’s also the option of traditional boiled dumplings or oven baked. We both ordered ours boiled, but the baked ones (kinda like empanadas) seem to be very popular with the locals as well. You can also choose between a small portion (5 pieces) or large portion (9 pieces). We both went for the large. Like that’s even a question!
It takes about 20-25 minutes for the dumplings to be ready. I only later found out that this is because everything is made fresh to order – as in, when someone orders, the dough is rolled, cut, stuffed, and cooked FRESH! Now that’s dedication to the pierogi craft!
But don’t worry, while you wait, you can munch on the complimentary appetizer (or gobble it down, in our case).
Yes that’s exactly what it looks like – a great big slab of PURE LARD (rendered white pork fat), with sauteed onion and bacon bits mixed in, and served with 2 small pieces of homemade rye bread and pickles. Apparently, smalec started out as peasant food, but now is quiet popular again among the trendy restaurants.
I prefer eating it on its own, while D likes his with pickles on top. The taste and texture of pickles make me physically gag, so D gets all of them. This is why our relationship works so well. :D
Finally it’s time for dumplings! I got shredded pork + sauerkraut, and D got the ultimate meat mix – bacon, ham, salami, and sausage, with leek and black olives. You also get to choose a sauce with each portion, out of a dozen or so choices. If you don’t specify, the kitchen will make a choice for you. I got the classic onion sauce, while D got a cream and dill sauce.
Mmmmm they were so good! The dough was thick and chewy, with just a slight hint of stickiness. The fillings were flavorful and the sauces were paired perfectly. We hungrily devoured our plates of dumplings. I felt warm and cozy, like I’ve found a little piece of home here in a strange land.
Now, this post would be short and boring if we stopped here and never came back. But this isn’t the case!
The next day, we didn’t even have to ask each other where we want to eat. We both just instinctively walked towards Pierogarnia again.
Actually, we went there twice that day.
And the day after that as well. And so on.
Unintentionally, we ended up at Pierogarnia every single meal during our stay in Wroclaw. It was slightly embarrassing to go back for dinner and see the same waitress as during lunchtime. But whatever. My love for pierogis knows no shame.
During our total 7 visits, we tried a number of different fillings, including spinach, cheese and potatoes, beef and onion, etc. But I always went back to the sauerkraut and mushroom, because it’s how D’s dad makes them and what I originally fell in love with. Even as an avid meat eater, I definitely prefer going vegetarian when it comes to pierogis! The sauerkraut is delectably tangy and the mushrooms impart an earthy flavor. This is the winning combination in my book!
We discovered that you can get them fried as well for a little bit of extra charge! Now they’re just like Chinese potstickers (jian jiao)! These are boiled first, and then pan fried.
At one point, I started to feel just a little bad that I wasn’t giving any of the other Polish foods a chance. Luckily, the menu also comes with a few other non-dumpling options. It was hard to tear myself away from pierogis for one meal, but after seeing so many people order the potato pancakes, I decided to try it as well (the small portion). I got it with the classic Old Wroclaw sauce, which is chicken chunks in a paprika cream sauce with peppers and spices. The pancakes were fried up nicely until they obtained a deliciously crispy crust. But I have to say that I still prefer pierogis over this.
As much as I love the pierogis, I kept on being drawn to one particular dish on the menu. One time for dinner, I just HAD to get it and I prayed that it wouldn’t be a regret again. I ordered the shortcrust pies (again, this is the small portion), filled with cherries, almond flakes, and melted chocolate…. because why not have dessert for dinner??
I took one bite, and I think I died and went to heaven. I’m positive now that the word foodgasm was created specifically for this dish. These were the best pies I’ve EVER had. Please try to look past the grainy iPhone pics, and imagine super buttery and crumbly shortcake crust, wrapped around gooey sour cherries and rich melty chocolate, and then drizzled with a pure dark chocolate sauce. They were like little golden pillows of happiness and sin.
Speaking of desserts… I almost forgot to talk about the dessert pierogis! We tried the raspberry, white chocolate, and mint, in a chocolate dough. Sounds decadent?! IT WAS. I didn’t even know that sweet/fruit pierogis were a thing. I think the Chinese ones need a version of this as well. :P
And lastly, there are also a few options of other pies and cakes for deseert. Our last meal there, we tried the warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
It was very good in its own right. But I’ve already been too spoiled with the chocolate cherry shortcrust pies, and I would pick those over ANY OTHER DESSERT for the rest of my life.
But unfortunately, I don’t know where to begin to find those because I’ve never seen anything like that from anywhere in the world. And that’s a huge part of the reason why I’m convinced we need to live in Wroclaw at some point (aside from the fact that it’s the perfect fairy tale town). And also because the pierogis are simply the best. We’ve been in Krakow for almost a week now and we still eat pierogies daily. But here, they’re sad, wimpy little things. None of them can even hold a candle to the ones at Pierogarnia. When I look down at my wimpy little pierogi, it only takes one of us to whisper the word “Pierogarnia”, and I’d let out a little whimper.
Practical & Fun Facts:
- Location: right in Market Square by the Town Hall. You won’t miss it. And no, despite the location, it’s not touristy.
- Hours: daily from 11:03 am to 10:56 pm. Apparently, not a minute sooner or later.
- Pricing: a large portion of anything goes for around US$6-$8 a plate, which is more than enough to get completely stuffed. The portion sizes are ridiculously large.
- Fun fact: The reason for the exceptional deliciousness is because of their “Grandma’s Certificate”, issued by authentic grandmothers who help prepare the dishes and recipes! (from their website). I take this to mean that there are actually Polish grandmothers back there making the fillings and kneading the dough!
- My picks: And lastly, if you could only have ONE meal here, I’d pick: a small portion of the sauerkraut and mushroom pierogis with butter, with a single chocolate cherry shortcrust pie for dessert.
Now, if only I can carry a tiny pierogi-and-pie-making Polish grandmother with me everywhere I go, my life would be complete!
Which of these dishes would you love to try? Does anyone else eat at the same restaurant meal after meal?
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