Austere expressionist paintings, an antique mahogany piano, dark red walls and white doily tablecloths. Restaurante La Polonesa’s old-world style is like a time traveller’s collection, and the nostalgic food fits in perfectly.
First, you’ll spot the garden furniture on the outdoor porch, then walk inside, pass the no-frills, marble-top tables, and you’ll reach the long, granite bar opposite the Polish food store where you can buy anything from Polish cheese and sausages to pickles and herbs!
Then just beyond the shop, down a couple of stairs, step forthwith into a world where your grandmother’s all-frills living room is on the front cover of Architectural Digest.
THE NOSTALGIC FOOD
There’s so much to choose from and, because many traditional Polish dishes don’t include meat, there’s plenty for the vegetarians among us. Here’s the menu, which is in both Spanish and Polish.
The star of the show is always pierogi which are boiled empanadas stuffed with a variety of options (cheese and potato/meat/cabbage and mushrooms), all garnished with salty caramelised onions.
The two circular slabs of grilled smoked cheese, which really must be eaten piping hot, are outrageously good. They also come with cranberry confiture to compliment the smoky flavour.
The beetroot soup uses flavours we’re all familiar with, but the balance is different. Barszcz, which comes with a few raviolis bopping around at the bottom, is deliciously peculiar, reminiscent of pomegranate molasses.
Among Polish cuisine’s hugely eclectic catalogue of ingredients, beetroot features heavily, with this salad comprising blended beetroot, laced with fiery horse radish.
There’s also a delicious sausage (Kiełbasa) on the menu which has a smoky flavour and bouncy texture you may be familiar with in German cuisine. It comes with pickles, boiled vegetables, horseradish and mustard, and a touch of fresh dill.
And don’t forget to try the super strong 7% Polish beer, Dębowe Dojrzałe Mocne.
FOOD THE LOCAL POLISH COMMUNITY LOVE
Restaurante La Polonesa is a hub for the local Polish community and is as authentic as it gets in Madrid – the food hasn’t been adapted to Spanish tastes whatsoever. The fresh ingredients are locally sourced, of course, but you also have the opportunity to buy imported Polish products in the small store so that you can cook some of these amazing hearty dishes at home.