Fried and Boiled Pierogis – Meat, Potato, Sweet Cheese, Spinach and Feta
Chocolate Frosted Custard Paczki
Opened in the Fantastic Indoor Swapmeet towards the end of 2016, the simple concept of Housemade Dumplings and a few Polish standards such as Sausage and Cabbage Rolls anchoring a menu that also features daily Soups and a few outsourced breakfast Pastries, Pierogi Café has been a source of intrigue due to both the concept and its location for months, recent Social Media posts about Paczki for Fat Tuesday finally the impetus for a lunch-time visit.
Owned by a Polish immigrant who moved to Las Vegas due to family health issues several years ago, it was after a long time in the healthcare field that the idea to open her own restaurant came to fruition and after a bit of decision-making the opportunity presented itself in the most unlikely of places, a store with an exterior facing door at the large shopping center on the corner of Oakey and Decatur.
Recently adding proper signage, nothing fancy but enough to do the job, it was just past 11:20a that a knock on the door listing an opening time of 10:00am was unlocked, the odd policy that all patrons must pay a buck and enter through the Swap Meet on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays no doubt a deterrent to some since the counter cannot be seen from the exterior, though it appears many regulars – all of them Polish – have already learned the trick.
Perusing the menu temporarily before placing an order, the ladies behind the counter agreeing to slightly change the Mixed Plate so that four flavors could be tasted instead of three, it was with a 50/50 split of Fried versus Boiled that the order was prepared in a small kitchen behind the scenes, the pop-n’-crackle of cooking oil heard as four Polish Doughnuts that turned out to be imported from California were packed in a Styrofoam Clamshell.
Taking a seat amidst ethnic nick-knacks, two elderly women from Chicago entering and beyond excited at the prospect of fresh Pierogis, it was not long before a plate of Dumplings was sat down with a small rectangle of Granulated Sugar at the center, instructions to dip the Sweet Cheese pockets into it happily followed after taking a bite to taste one in its natural state, the inhomogenous filling’s texture a lot like Ricotta with the light sweetness of Mascarpone.
Not terribly impressed by the Potato version, neither the fried nor boiled versions flavorful at all without adding on some caramelized onions a la carte, the Pork-based meat filling was obviously more flavorful, though likely to be benefitted by a bit of Pepper or spice in the mixture while the Spinach & Feta proved an undeniable favorite that tasted great boiled, but even more textural and rich when fried.
Admittedly a bit disappointed that the Paczki were made elsewhere, the Doughnuts remembered from a Childhood in Northwest Ohio nowhere to be found in Las Vegas otherwise, the quartet served at Pierogi Café through Tuesday are hit n’ miss largely as a result of the unbalanced filling process that saw little more than a teaspoon of Raspberry Gel piped into one while the traditional Prune and Custard versions were crisp on the outside, springy with Eggs amidst the crumb and densely filled.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Appreciating the limitations of the space, as well as those intrinsic to a place focusing on one item, Pierogi Café would be well advised to dial in the execution on everything they are doing and then expand slowly while admitting up front that many of their items are made elsewhere.
RECOMMENDED: Spinach and Feta, Sweet Cheese Pierogis, Prune Paczki.
AVOID: Potato Pierogi.
TIP: Open Weds-Mon. Closed Tuesday. M, W, R is free entry below the sign while F, Sa, Su costs a buck by way of the Fantastic Indoor Swapmeet Main Entrance. OPEN 2/28/17 for Fat Tuesday and Paczki available until then.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.