The South Sound restaurant scene has the market cornered on teriyaki and Thai and it seems you can’t turn in a circle without finding a new Vietnamese restaurant. But when it comes to Polish or Russian food, it might be easier to have someone’s grandma do the cooking because those restaurants are in short supply.
In recent months, I’ve heard from several readers in search of two European dishes: cabbage rolls, which typically are cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and ground meat then served warm with a tomato sauce; and piroshky, fried (or baked) puffs of yeasty dough filled with meat, cabbage, or a combination of the two, plus cheese or potato and other savory and sweet stuffings.
Well, readers, I went on the prowl and after some digging, I found cabbage rolls and piroshky for dine-in or take-out at a Federal Way deli, a Tacoma deli and Parkland restaurant. Read on.
Your turn: Know of a restaurant that serves Polish, Russian, Ukrainian or even German or Hungarian food? Comment below and share your tip.
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Bruno’s European RestaurantWhere: 10716 A St. S., Tacoma (near the intersection of 108th Street South and Pacific Avenue South)Info: 253-719-7181Serving: Cabbage rolls and pierogi. Their real specialties are schnitzel and soups. Hangover soup is one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted.Cost: $8.95 for a cabbage roll dinner, or $13.50 for a Polish platter that includes pierogi (meat or potato and cheese dumplings), cabbage rolls, and more.
Krystyna and Bruno Tomaszewska made their mark in the South Sound food scene selling cabbage rolls at the Tacoma Farmers Market. Since opening their restaurant, Bruno’s European Restaurant in Lakewood, last year, then relocating to Parkland in late February, the Tomaszewskas no longer have time to sell cabbage rolls at the market. However, diners can order the cabbage rolls at the full-service restaurant that recently acquired a liquor permit and opened an outdoor beer garden where they serve an assortment of difficult-to-find European beer and wine.
Cabbage rolls at Bruno’s are served as a full meal with pureed potatoes. The rolls are plump and full of mildly seasoned rice and ground pork butt. It’s the piquant tomato sauce I find so appealing: the tomato sauce is sharp and sweet, with a delicious richness from a splash of cream.
The rest of Bruno’s menu is a combination of German, Polish and other European specialties. Their house favorite is schnitzel, but there also is goulash, German potato salad, spatzle noodles, potato dumplings, red cabbage salad and pierogi (dumplings stuffed with meat or potatoes).
Euro Food & DeliWhere: 1505 S.W. 344th St., Federal WayInfo: 253-835-9998Serving: Self-serve pirozhky in a deli case, as well as cheburek and cabbage rolls. The business mostly is a grocery store, but the deli in the back has pre-made take-out foods.Cost: 99 cents-$1.59 for pirozhky and meat rolls, and $4.95 a pound for cabbage rolls.
Euro Food and Deli is a combination grocery store and deli in Federal Way with a wide selection of deli meats and cheeses.
Want baked goods? They’ve got fresh bread and pastries, too. And the grocery store has a broad selection – more than a dozen kinds – of prepared frozen pierogi.
Want Russian soda pop? They’ve got that, too. How about canned fish? Smoked meat? Preserved fish? They’ve got all of that.
The ready-to-eat case includes a variety of take-out foods. For piroshky, called pirozhki here, diners will find puffy ovals of yeasty, fried dough stuffed with cabbage or ground pork and rice. The deli also offers fried turnovers called cheburek, (all are priced from 99 cents to $1.59 each).
At Euro Food and Deli, the cabbage rolls are small and tightly rolled with a ground-meat-and-rice mixture inside and topped with a puckery tomato sauce (priced $4.95 a pound, about four rolls per pound). Call ahead to find out what’s fresh and available that day because on three different visits, the availability of prepared foods varied. On one Sunday visit, they did not offer piroshky.
Friendly FoodsWhere: 3612 Center St., TacomaInfo: 253-752-5649Serving: Self-serve piroshky in a warm deli case. They come in four flavors most days: potato, meat, cheese and cabbage. Other deli items also are available. The bakery case has a selection of cakes, tarts and pastries.Cost: $1.39-$1.59 each for piroshky.
When I think Friendly Foods, I think cake. The bakery case at this Tacoma grocery store and deli is full of European-style cakes, tarts and other pastries that look as delicious as they taste. Outside of the German Pastry Shop in Lakewood, I can’t think of a bakery with a more interesting cake selection.
But look to the right of the bakery case and diners will find a self-service piroshky bar with most days offering four different kinds of fried rolls: potato, cheese, rice and pork, and cabbage ($1.39-$1.59 each). The case is self service, with brown paper bags and tongs for packaging the stuffed and yeasty rolls that are fried and held warm in the piroshky case (the sign outside calls them piroshky, the signs inside call them pirozhky; just a spelling difference or regional difference in the composition of the buns? I couldn't get a solid answer from staffers).
The store also sells European candy, soda, meats, cheeses, fresh-baked bread and an assortment of frozen foods and fresh produce.
AN EXTRA HELPING .....
If we're talking European eats, then Lakewood's Hess Bakery and the German Pastry Shop - unaffiliated businesses operating in the same building - have to be part of the conversation. At Hess, you'll find a deli case with a varied selection of meats and cheeses and across the store is a wall of baskets full of freshly baked bread, rolls and pretzels. When I visit Hess, I like to pick up a container of the cold potato salad dressed with a puckery vinaigrette and smoked bits of pork (about $2.50 for a small container). Sandwiches at the deli are made to order and cost less than $5. The bakery and deli offers takeout, there's not much seating. The bakery also has a few aisles of groceries (chocolates and dried goods), and a pretty decent selection of beers.
Across the hall from Hess is the German Pastry Shop. A bakery display case holds all kinds of cakes, another holds handheld pastries. Strudel will set you back $1.60, a slice of cake $2.80 (I like strawberry or mocha). Sandwiches also are served here. Warning: If you use a debit or credit card under $10, they'll charge you 50 cents for the transaction. Seating is offered in a serviceable and nice sized dining room.
Hess BakeryWhere: 6108 Mount Tacoma Drive S.W., LakewoodInfo: 253-584-1451 or hessbakery.com
German Pastry ShopWhere: 6108 Mount Tacoma Drive S.W., LakewoodPhone: 253-588-5777