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#1
Posted October 1st 2006, 12:48am
Can you folks recommend a good quality Polish smorgasbord type of place? City or Near West Burbs, please. I've got some guests coming in next week who are dying for an authentic Polish experience with a nice variety of offerings.
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#2
Posted October 1st 2006, 10:42am
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#3
Posted October 1st 2006, 1:51pm
Bobak's isn't bad, but I much prefer Jolly Inn
www.jollyinn.com
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#4
Posted October 1st 2006, 5:58pm
It's not as big or as known as Bobak's, but in my opinion Star of Poland is a cut above. To me, everything at Bobak's tastes the same -- different textures perhaps, but sameness of taste. I don't get that impression at Star of Poland.

STAROPOLSKA
5249 West Belmont
Chicago
(773) 736-5230
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#5
Posted October 1st 2006, 7:25pm
Does anyone know if the Tatra Inn has reopened yet?
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#6
Posted October 2nd 2006, 8:08am
We have enjoyed many a Polish overeating escapade at Red Apple. Have also had lunch a few times at Staropolska, thought it was quite good, but it seemed to be a smaller spread. Prepare to be in a food coma for a few hours after the extended sit-down.



Red Apple (Czerwone Jabluszko)
3123 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 588-5781
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#7
Posted October 2nd 2006, 10:20am
Jeanne, tell me more about the Jolly Inn. I pass it everyday on the way to work. But, I have never stopped in. How does it compare to the Red Apple or the Old warsaw?
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#8
Posted October 2nd 2006, 3:48pm
YourPalWill wrote:Jeanne, tell me more about the Jolly Inn. How does it compare to the Red Apple or the Old warsaw?

And Staropolska or Grota?
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#9
Posted October 2nd 2006, 5:06pm
Cogito wrote:
YourPalWill wrote:Jeanne, tell me more about the Jolly Inn. How does it compare to the Red Apple or the Old warsaw?

And Staropolska or Grota?



I am a big fan. I actually had my wedding reception there. I like it because they have very traditional Polish food with more Americanized food as well. However it is definately more Polish than anything else.

Much better quality of food and restaurant than Red Apple of Grota.

I haven't been to Old Warsaw in quite a few years so I really can't say.

I grew up a block from Staropolska and we used to walk over all the time. But my family and I have agreed that the quality has gone down while the prices went up. Staropolska and Jolly Inn used to have the same owners.

Overall I like the selection, the price and the cleanliness of Jolly Inn. It's definately worth trying!
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#10
Posted October 2nd 2006, 5:20pm
I've had lunch at the Jolly Inn at least once a month for the last five years. Along with Sawa's in Broadview, these are my go to Polish buffets. I tried Staopolska once, but agree that Jolly Inn is way better. The quality, selection, cleanliness and staff is/are terrific. The buffet is constantly being replenished with fresh food. Their potato pancakes are terrific.
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#11
Posted October 4th 2006, 8:52pm
My vote goes to Old Warsaw Buffet, over Staropolska, Jolly Inn and Czerwone Jabluszko. It's a little less cafeteria like, and the selection of foods is slightly different than at the others. They have an expanded buffet on Sundays (not sure about Saturdays). My aunts have taken to celebrating their wedding anniversaries there, and the now extended Irish-American, Filipino-American and Polish-American families have never been disappointed. Smacznego! Anna

Old Warsaw Buffet
4750 N. Harlem
Norridge, IL (on the Chicago border)
708-867-4500
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#12
Posted October 4th 2006, 9:08pm
Anna Z. Sobor wrote:My vote goes to Old Warsaw Buffet, over Staropolska, Jolly Inn and Czerwone Jabluszko. It's a little less cafeteria like, and the selection of foods is slightly different than at the others. They have an expanded buffet on Sundays (not sure about Saturdays). My aunts have taken to celebrating their wedding anniversaries there, and the now extended Irish-American, Filipino-American and Polish-American families have never been disappointed. Smacznego! Anna

Old Warsaw Buffet
4750 N. Harlem
Norridge, IL (on the Chicago border)
708-867-4500


That's interesting. I've only been to the Old Warsaw on Cermak, in what's that, Brookfield? While I like it's 60's decor, the food was so-so (more 60's "Swedish" than anything). I'll have to give this branch a try.

Grota, since AnneK first introduced us, has been the VI family go-to for Polish buffet, and we have eaten there many times over the years. I cannot say it's perfect or always ideal. On a 10 point scale, I'd say I've had as low as 2 and as high as 7 (which is about as high as these places go). Generally, I've been very happy at Grota.
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#13
Posted October 5th 2006, 11:53am
Old Warsaw on North Harlem is a great place to experience. It always looks like they are celebrating Christmas inside, and they even have a stage for a band (which I have never seen actually performing). The food can be hit or miss (as with all these places, like VI mentioned), but Old Warsaw is certainly worth at least one dinner.
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#14
Posted October 5th 2006, 12:44pm
Old Warsaw used to be our "go to" Polish buffet my whole childhood. We called it Sowa's, though. It always seemed magical inside when I was little because it was dark and there were Christmas lights. Maybe I have to go on a nostalgia trip! The one thing I remember is eating these little bite sized cheesecakes.
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#15
Posted October 5th 2006, 1:14pm
JeanneBean wrote:Old Warsaw used to be our "go to" Polish buffet my whole childhood. We called it Sowa's, though..


Several years back, the sign for the restaurant called it "Sawa's Old Warsaw" before a big renovation project.

Before it was Sawa's, it had a life as Meo's Norwood House, what I imagine was yet another road house on Harlem Ave. just beyond the city limits. [There was another bar/restaurant/roadhouse kind of place about 3 blocks north, where Carsons was more recently, that had a big bar which featured some old gal with dyed red hair playing a big organ. They weren't too picky about carding when I was a teenager, if you catch my drift. I think Harlem Ave.'s function as the border of the city encouraged lots of places like these. Didn't Horwath's start as a roadhouse?]

Apparently my memory of the Old Warsaw building being a roadhouse has validity:
. . . in late 1950s and early 1960s, the Meo Brothers ran a restaurant that was, in effect, Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo's headquarters. Is it still in business?
RL: Meo's Norwood House is today the Old Warsaw, a Polish-American restaurant on Harlem Avenue, in the Northwest suburb of Norridge. The Meo brothers sold out years ago. The lingerie fashion shows staged for the benefit of the wise guys are a thing of the past. The place is an amiable family restaurant with a sumptuous buffet table of Polish foods. Very popular with the neighbors on Sundays after church.


Well. I hadn't realized that there were name mobsters involved. The rest of the article I lifted this from is at http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_32.html and well worth looking at. It discusses many different Mafia and/or crime sites and what the real estate is doing these days. [Especially recommended to ReneG.]

Vital Information wrote: On a 10 point scale, I'd say I've had as low as 2 and as high as 7 (which is about as high as these places go).


I have to agree with VI that the Polish buffet experience in general isn't all that hot. In my experience, Polish food in a restaurant where you order an entree is MASSIVELY better than what they'll put out on a buffet. And it's not like they don't stuff you silly with entree portions.

I'd suggest viewing VI's numerous and informative posts about Polish restaurants and consider this experience instead.

Giovanna "The Sicilian side of my family had nothing to do with those guys"
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#16
Posted October 7th 2006, 10:17am
Vital Information wrote:Generally, I've been very happy at Grota.

Rob,

I've been to Grota three times over the years, first time was for a private party and the Polish buffet, including that Polish 'classic' corned beef and cabbage, was pretty darn good.

A couple of months later we were out for drinks with a small group, talk turned to food, image that, I mentioned Grota and the Polish buffet, next thing you know we are in two cars trundling out to Grota.

Truly, I was embarrassed, we walk in around 7:30pm on a Friday, there's one heavily intoxicated man yelling at a thin browbeaten woman in the back, an older couple, customers, seemingly a cross between embarrassed and scared and an overall pallor, dismal cast, almost palpable coating of despair tinting the lens of our eyes with a sulfuric yellow ocher cast.

And that was before we made the mistake of looking into the chaffing dishes on the line. Suffice to say the buffet offerings that evening looked a bit fatigued. We walked out, did I mention I was embarrassed.

We drove up to Red Apple on the 6400 block of Milwaukee and had a very nice meal, I love the red cabbage, for little money.

I went back once to Grota thinking that dismal evening was simply an anomaly, death in the family, everyone in management at an out of town wedding, something, anything, but, while it did not reach the Cold War Bulgarian prison atmosphere of my previous visit, it would take an act of congress, or assurance that there had been an ownership change, to get me back in the door.

Enjoy,
Gary
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#17
Posted October 7th 2006, 10:28am
My only experience is Bobak's and if you like meat for smorgasbord eating, I think it is darned good. Minneapolis has nothing like it. So, if all the other places mentioned are better you won't go wrong in your choice no matter what.
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#18
Posted October 7th 2006, 12:57pm
Bobak's definately is not bad. It's kind of like an Old Country Buffett of Polish food. More quantity than quality.
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#19
Posted December 14th 2007, 4:26am
Bobak's was never a big favorite of mine, either the deli or the buffet, but I understand why it had its admirers. Saveur prominently featured Bobak's in its Chicago issue (October 2007) but at least mentioned some of the smaller, better producers. The buffet gets a paragraph near the end of the article.

I suspect any visitors, new or old, to Bobak's buffet will be in for a shock. The restaurant has been boarded up and a couple steam tables have been set up in the middle of the store (the liquor department has been eliminated, making some room). One table features hot dogs and other sausages for $2 each; another has some of the familiar buffet offerings (not well maintained) for $4.99 per pound. A third station has some prepackaged salads. It's mostly takeout but a few tables have been set up in the front of the store near the rest rooms. I never cared much for Bobak's old buffet but still it's kind of sad.

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Bobak's
5275 S Archer Av
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773-735-5334
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#20
Posted December 14th 2007, 10:18am
We went to Old Warsaw on Harlem a few weeks ago. The food was o.k. in general, but I was disappointed to find out they didn't serve potato pancakes on the buffet after 2pm on Sundays, and had only one kind of pierogi available (meat). I'll probably head someplace else next time.
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#21
Posted December 14th 2007, 10:31am
Does anyone know of a thread that talks about food in Poland today? I wonder if they have all you can eat grease troughs like we do here. Kind of doubt it.
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#22
Posted December 14th 2007, 10:45am
teatpuller wrote:Does anyone know of a thread that talks about food in Poland today? I wonder if they have all you can eat grease troughs like we do here. Kind of doubt it.

Teat,

While I certainly would not characterize all Polish buffet's as grease troughs, in fact my last outing at Red Apple was quite good, Dobra Bielinski, aka Cookie Monster, owner of Delightful Pastries spoke directly to this on the recent WTTW Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History, in that Polish buffet's are an American invention.

Enjoy,
Gary
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#23
Posted December 14th 2007, 10:48am
teatpuller wrote:Does anyone know of a thread that talks about food in Poland today? I wonder if they have all you can eat grease troughs like we do here. Kind of doubt it.

According to the "Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History" special on Channel 11, they indicated that if you traveled to Poland, you would not find any such buffets. I have not been to Poland, however, so I have no firsthand knowledge.
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#24
Posted December 14th 2007, 11:48am
I absolutely love their pickled vegetables and salads...whole grain breads, herring...dumplings...soups.

I wonder if there is a "slow food" movement in Poland.
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#25
Posted December 14th 2007, 4:12pm
kuhdo wrote:We went to Old Warsaw on Harlem a few weeks ago. The food was o.k. in general, but I was disappointed to find out they didn't serve potato pancakes on the buffet after 2pm on Sundays, and had only one kind of pierogi available (meat). I'll probably head someplace else next time.


I also went there a few weeks ago and was disappointed. I had not been there since maybe 1990. The place used to be alot darker. Now it felt like I was in a circus tent. The food was very greasy and not a great selection. They used to have a wonderful sweet table with these little bite-sized cheesecakes, now all they have is the standard dry, stale tasting pastries that most Polish buffets have.

I still feel that Jolly Inn will give you the best overall experience.
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