I really like Polish food. My first girlfriend was Polish and her mother used to feed me bigos and kabanos and sauerkraut and pierogi. I loved it. I loved her daughter too, but it didn’t work out. Sigh.
I did learn a little Polish, including the extremely useful phrase ‘Czy Pan ma konopje?’ (‘Have you got any weed?’) but I have no use for that any more. Only my love of Polish food remains so an invitation to sample the cooking at Platzki, the new Polish restaurant on Manchester’s Deansgate, was irresistible.
Inside the modern shop front, which will no doubt have a terrace in the summer, the owners have cultivated a charming farmhouse look. As Polish food is largely rustic, the decor should make a happy marriage, although they’re claiming to offer a more refined version. We shall see.
‘They’ are Lukas, who greets us, and Przemek who is behind the grill in the open kitchen. Trained in Poland, they came to the UK, worked here in restaurants and set up their own catering-for-events business. The restaurant, which has been open for three months, is the logical way to go.
The menu is short, which is always a good sign, and changes daily. Today they’ve got my favourite, pierogi. But we got there just after 3pm and, following a brisk trade at lunchtime, they’ve run out. Pierogi are dumplings, not unlike Chinese potsticker dumplings or gyoza, but the Poles fill them with potato, cheese and sauerkraut. Delicious, yet unavailable. Sigh.
A couple of Polish beers cheered us up, and then the food arrived. A large bowl of wonderful celeriac soup with smoked cheese, exactly what you’d expect in a farmhouse kitchen, perfectly seasoned and nicely filling. And a plate of potato and spinach dumplings; not in pastry like pierogi, more like large soft gnocchi, squidgy and delicious. As well as the best cheesecake I have ever eaten. There are more ambitious dishes on the menu so I shall definitely return to try them.
Opening a restaurant in the current climate could be regarded as foolhardy. Everywhere you look, chains are closing. Nevertheless, this sort of venture, run by people devoted to their cooking and to pleasing their clientele, is exactly what we need more of in our towns and cities.