***I’m in one of my fits of existential pique, the kind wherein blogging feels like anything but its own reward. I’m going to do it anyway, because I generally believe in acting as if. Wish me luck.***
Ever since my always-on-the-move pal Larry asked me about it last fall, & my pal Beth of Living the Mile-High Life‘s husband Todd wrote a review of it on his blog, Broomfield Restaurant Reviews, I’ve been meaning to get over to Cracovia for some pork fat to slather all over my face. After Westword reviewed it last week, the craving really kicked in—but dreading the postreview masses, I opted instead, at Beth’s suggestion, to check out Kinga’s Lounge on Colfax with her, Todd & the Director in tow.
I don’t know how I knew that the nondescript-bordering-on-divey bar area in the front wasn’t all there was to the place (genius?!?), but I did, & kept going, through an utterly quaint dining room
& on into the even more charming fireplace lounge in back, all carved wood & stained glass panels, oil paintings & antiques, leading in turn to a cute little smoking patio overlooking the side street.
Couldn’t be nicer for knocking back some vodka, I figured, & it wasn’t. For one thing, our waitress—a pretty young thing who, we came to understand, was family (to the owners, I mean, not to us)—missed nary a trick; as friendly as she was knowledgeable about the menus, she led me to Zoladkowa orange-clover vodka, which I got with an OJ chaser, not expecting just how sweetly spiced it would be all on its own.
She also talked Beth into a shot of my beloved Zubrówka bison-grass vodka (more of which here), & Todd into 1 of the more pilsnery of their dozen or so Polish beers.
Love me those full-on red leather boots beneath the bowtied braid, peasant blouse & flouncy apron.
That Kinga’s is an American bar 1st, Polish eatery 2nd was, however, clear from the menu, which is about 3 parts standard grub to 1 part Old Country cookery. We nonetheless made do, starting with new-to-me zapiekanka, apparently a popular snack over there, here topped with sauteed mushrooms & onions, what seemed to be provolone, & a yummy, slightly spicy sauce that the waitress said was the chef’s secret but then confessed that it was probably just a mix of household condiments X, Y & Z. Anyway, it was perfectly good as French bread pizza–like items go. One can’t help but wonder what it would be like with a quality baguette, but one also realizes that the cheap stuff is likely more appropriate from the standpoint of tradition.
My so-called meatballs were really juicy patties—mainly lighter meat like pork & veal, I think, & topped (though I’d asked for it on the side—our waitress’s 1 minor slip) with some sort of enjoyably gross cheese sauce. Beth nailed them as “differently flavored Salisbury steak” (she’s good, that one!). The fried potato disks & cucumber salad (which, despite appearances, proved somehow lighter & more refreshing than its counterpart at Café Berlin) were also perfectly respectable.
Ditto the Director’s pierogi stuffed variously with potato, cabbage & meat; though dribbled with some sort of butter sauce, they were relatively light, resembling ravioli more than anything that might have missed its calling as empanadas.
Beth’s wienerschnitzel was certainly a honker, & not bad, though a bit dry.
Of the two kinds of kielbasa on offer—smoked red & boiled white—Todd opted for the former, which came with a mess o’ sauerkraut; he wasn’t wild about it, however, declaring Cracovia overall preferable.
I don’t doubt it, but I remain enchanted enough by the backroom vibe to plan to kick it there more often.