November 7, 2011

Pierogie Kitchen

When a pretty important person in my life moved to Roxborough recently, I was thrilled to have a whole new neighborhood of eats to explore.  While he usually frequents a sandwich shop and a diner (nothing against them!), I'm more excited about the specialty spots in the area.  We often drive by a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on a corner near his house, and the first time I saw it I got excited-- I mean how cute is it??

The Pierogie Kitchen is bright, cheery, has a great name, and an even better logo.  Plus- where else can you get pierogies around here?  I'm at a loss.  Sometime after his move, I received a Groupon offer for this very place.  $12 for $25 worth of pierogies had me hitting "Buy!" in a snap (well, after a short discussion with the Roxborough resident).

After a lovely long run in the Wissahickon (another great perk- just a few warmup miles away!), we set out to use our deal.  The menu is fairly extensive, offering a few dozen flavors of pierogies, a number of sandwiches (which all have pierogies IN them), a few delightful looking soups, and a few other Polish classics such as kielbasa and kraut and stuffed cabbage.  They even have a couple authentic Polish desserts (our mom would be all over the chrusciki).

The daily specials are all regular menu items, so I'm not sure what makes them special.  Also, when ordering, make sure to look at the menu board to ensure that what you want is not "Sold Out" (which we have a sneaking suspicion means "None in the Fridge Today." There are only two tiny tables in the front, so plan on taking your food to go.  Also, plan on waiting. A long time.  Although there were no orders up in front of us, we still waited a good forty-five minutes.  Pretty unacceptable for a take-out spot, if you ask me.  Slightly disgruntled, we hurried our bags of food home to feast.

We all ordered "Stackers," or monster sandwiches that include a pierogie in the mix.  However, needing to fill our $25 quota, we also ordered six pierogies on the side- and requested three Farmer's Cheese and three Sweet Potato (the only dessert pierogie option that was not "Sold Out").  About half an hour through our wait, we were told that we'd have to pick a new flavor- so we deserted dessert (heh) and went with spinach & jack cheese ($5.20 for 6).  Served hot, these little packets of dough were coated in oil, and fairly soft (not pan fried to crispness).  We're not picky on texture, and actually enjoy slightly doughy items, so it was fine by us.  The dough to innards ratio was decent, with a fairly thick skin giving a good bite.  The flavor of the inside was hard to perceive, but a hint of spinach was enough for us.  A small tub of sour cream is also provided for dipping- we recommend it.

Seeing as we HAD just completed a long run, I felt a sandwich of "considerable size and stature" was only appropriate.  They aren't kidding though- these sandwiches exploded from their bread/bun/wrap and filled an entire takeout container each.  While the below picture might look like a pile of mush, it was actually pretty awesome.  Called the "PK Stacker," it was nothing like you might find at Burger King.  Instead, a slice of rye bread is covered by a large potato-cheddar pierogie, a large smoked kielbasa is cut in half, grilled, and placed on top, and then the entire thing is covered in at least a pound of hot sauerkraut and sauteed onions.  The final part is another piece of rye bread, which is toasted and spread with a spicy mustard ($6.25).

If you order one of these sandwiches, get ready to eat with a fork and knife- there is no possible way to pick this up.  Even sliced in half, the incredibly soggy bottom piece of bread is useless as a tray for this falling apart heap.  In any case, it tasted delicious- my salt cravings were completely ablated, and the sauteed cabbage and onions were tangy without a crazy dose of vinegar.  The flavors are pretty classic Polish, so if you like kraut and kielbasa and can demolish an elephant, get this.

Another terrible picture awaits, but really, the description of the following sandwich will do: the "Spicy Chicken Stacker," a spicy, fried chicken breast topped with bacon, cheddar, caramelized onions, a jalapeno-cheddar-potato pierogie (yeah they have every flavor combination ever), and a huge dollop of garlic mayo, all on a large toasted kaiser roll ($6.25).  My arteries are clogging thinking about this- but of course, a boy would order this.  I took a little bite and it was just as you would expect- spicy, salty, cheesy, meaty, greasy, and admittedly, pretty delicious.

The final sandwich choice was definitely the best of the day- and I'm lucky that J agreed to split our picks.  Because I had major enormous-sandwich-envy.  The "Special of the Day"- the Wild Salmon wrap- was probably also the most normal of the day ($7.95).  A thin piece of pan seared salmon filet (a little dry on its own) is stuffed into an herb-garlic wrap alongside delicious accompaniments of baby spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, the ubiquitous herb-garlic pierogie, and a garlic mayo sauce that makes everything super moist, a bit like a salad dressing inside a wrap.  Honestly though, I don't really understand the addition of pierogies, besides the originality factor.  They blend into the sandwich, and with so many ingredients and toppings, get completely lost in the mix.

As a whole, the meal was a great deal for the more than 50% discount we got-- and provided an amazing, massive lunch.  I think we're still annoyed about the incredibly long wait we faced, and thus wouldn't run back immediately.  Even though the Pierogie Kitchen is more than convenient to my new second home, the convenience factor was completely wiped out by the wait.  If they had a "call ahead" option, I might consider going again, just for the wild salmon wrap.

Pierogie Kitchen
648 Roxborough Avenue

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