When I visit a city, I want to immerse myself in that city’s culture and try the local food specialties. I wasn’t sure what that might be in Cleveland, but a quick check on the internet taught me that while in Cleveland, I would need to try some of their Polish food. And the place that seemed to be the spot for visitors: Sokolowski’s University Inn.
I pulled up Sokolowski’s website and saw that both Anthony Bourdain and Iron Chef Michael Symon have visited there and recommend the place, too. Sokolowski’s kindly provided links to video clips of their visits, so I watched those and learned that Michael Symon chose Sokolowski’s pierogi for the “Best Food I Ever Ate.” The video clip showed them being made and devoured and I knew I’d have to make a trek there, too. I couldn’t wait to stuff a few pierogi in my mouth.
I don’t know why I even cared that Anthony Bourdain ate there. I can’t stand him. He raved about the head cheese (pig’s brain) that they made for him. I didn’t see that on their menu. Maybe it was a special that day, or maybe they made it specifically for him. Either way, it’s not what I would order. I had my heart set on the sautéed pierogi that Michael Symon ate.
I almost didn’t get to have either. Sokoloski’s is open Monday-Friday for lunch, but only Friday and Saturday night for dinner. After our day of toboganning, we hurried to Sokolowski’s and discovered a line of at least 100 people! Though the restaurant is set up cafeteria style, the line of people snaked all the way through the restaurant. Many of them got drinks at the bar and drank those as they crawled along in line. Then, one of the waitresses called out that three seats were open at the bar and we grabbed them. Standing in line would have probably been a fun part of the experience, but we were starving!
Our food came out quickly and I sunk my teeth into one of the buttery, cheesy, potato pierogi. It was indeed, delicious. But a forkful of my husband’s entrée was all the proof I needed that Anthony Bourdain and Michael Symon were both wrong. The head cheese and the pierogi weren’t the best dishes that Sokolowki’s had to offer. No, the standout dish was the Stuffed Cabbage, with a side of sauerkraut. It made me think about getting up and standing in line to get a tray full of cabbages to take home!
The portions are huge. You won’t leave hungry. I agree with everything I read that said that Sokolowski’s University Inn was a must-stop for authentic Polish food in Cleveland. The ambiance was a blend of old world and local with lots of wood, pictures of family and patrons, and a few signs in Polish. There’s nothing fancy or fussy about Sokolowski’s. It’s all about the food. If you find yourself in Cleveland, stop in. But if Cleveland isn’t on your itinerary, you’re in luck. You can make Sokolowski’s pierogi at home using the recipe Michael Symon raves about. But again, I recommend the Stuffed Cabbage.
Polish food – yay or nay?