“A good appetite needs no sauce” – Old Polish Proverb
It took us a little while to finally dine at Apteka. Not for lack of wanting, the idea of vegan pierogi and Polish fare sounded amazing, but the time had to be right!
Cue the Autumn/Winter season. As light begins to wane and darkness becomes the day, the season of early sunset sets upon us. Chilly air and foggy breath make for ruddy cheeks and hearty appetites, a fitting climate to open this treasure trove of earthy, pungent, and rustic charm.
It was a snap decision, a crisp night stroll through the 300 acres of Allegheny Cemetery led us to Apteka‘s front door. #FoodFate
The approach is streamlined, upon entry you are greeted with a wall-size menu reminiscent of Basquiat’s manic-genius lists. Your order is placed at the counter and you’re given a number and a bottle of water. Food and drinks are brought to your table and the journey begins!
Polish cuisine makes great uses of grains, millet, rye, and wheat. Pungent, aromatic and dense flavor palate, using nutmeg, juniper, mace. Old spice cupboard flavors that taste like something ancient, respected. A feast as homage to an old way.
Earthy flavors, deep browns. Cold weather and dead leaves, crisp frosty airs inspire appetites of starches and root vegetables. Hearty, hefty portions reasonably priced. A treat for the cold-weather season, indeed!
ecoRDN chose the the Tartines to start. Like crostini or bruschetta, tartines are open faced sandwiches prepared on Apteka‘s grainy house-baked rye. Carrot pâté with pickled cucumber, radish and dill, sweet garlicky toothy bites, polish salad with pickle, celeriac and potato, reminiscent of sweet chunky heavy mayo salads of picnics past. See Apteka’s daily menu for alternating varieties.
The Horse & Pepper jumped right off the page, a sandwich boasting a huge slab of fried veggie pâté served on a hulking crust of baguette holding hands with sweet pepper sauce, crispy cabbage salad, black garlic butter and spicy peppers. The pâté resembles tempeh, in a traditionally set terrine cut into a massive rectangle and cooked to a nice crisp bark. Earthy, rich, and filling.
O M -effing- G, Apteka’s Pierogi are the Apis Patella!!! Heavenly wedges stuffed with a mix of smoked potato or a mash of mushroom and sauerkraut, underneath a sweet nut-based rich mayo-like yoghurt sauce that tasted like sweet pickle relish, creamy and perfect accompaniment along with the beets and fried cabbage, make it rain with chives. Non-nut options available upon request. The smoked potato pierogi is DIVINE. Smoked potato + parsnip+ turnip greens, a salty woody mash mixed with the carrot-like parsnip and mild bitter turnip greens. The mushroom & sauerkraut provided a perfect balance, earthy deep mushroom flavor marries so well with the pungent aromatic bite of the sauerkraut. A guaranteed umami face explosion!
For dessert we chose the Tarta Jablkowa (apple pie) w/ tart cherry compote. The buttery pastry soaked up the sweet spiced pureed apple, like the consistency of loose pumpkin pie,. A melange of fall aromatics underneath super tart port-y cherry compote, those cinnamony sweet browns, all that good time spice! (OMG, we want more in our stupid faces, rn) The buttery flaky pastry is plant-based, as are all the options at Apteka. Another great place to visit where no-meat/no-dairy gourmands need not worry and go all-in for a memorable feast, perfect for the cold time of year.
Apteka is an absolute treat, highly recommended!
As always, thanks for reading and eat well!
©2016 ecoRDN 💚