Mamuska - Polish food in Elephant and Castle - Report [London]
I went for a late dinner at Mamuska last night with two other dining companions. What a funny (and kind of awesome) place!
Food-wise, the experience is akin to going to dinner at your Polish sister-in-law's house - it's definitely decent Polish food....but it's definitely not as good as when your own Polish grandma makes it. The food lacks grandma's finesse, practice, and dedication.
We had the potato pancakes, topped with pork goulash. The plate was huge (5 large pancakes with a generous portion of goulash) and only costs £5. So it's definitely a bargain. The pancakes were freshly fried, and pretty good. They were a bit watery inside though, which is my main complaint. Goulash was nothing special - next time I'd probably just get them w/ sour cream and sugar (there is also an option of mushroom sauce, or plain).
We also had the vegetarian pierogi topped w/ bacon. Again, sour cream might have been a better topping. The pierogis were pretty good as well - topped w/ the bacon, the overall taste sensation in my mouth was very similar to Chinese dumplings. This makes sense, since I often dip my pork dumplings in a vinegar based sauce....and these were essentially the reverse: sauerkraut filling w/ a pork topping. These also cost £5
We also had the daily soup, which was vegetable and smoked meat. This was pretty good - a bit greasy (from the smoked meat) but nicely seasoned and tasty, but again, it wasn't quite grandma's soup....grandma's would have been better. Big serving for £3 though, served with pretty awful bread (maybe it was stale since we were there so late in the day?)
The space is very interesting - inside the Elephant and Castle Shopping Center, high ceilings, mismatched tables (including a tiny kid's table for two, just in case two 3-year-olds come on a date!) It all reminded me of a converted warehouse, and the whole restaurant has a nice creative feel. The woman at the counter was friendly, and I think the menu and website are great as well - I like how the restaurant is catering to both Polish people who are looking for a taste of home, but also catering to a general public who might not know anything about Polish food.
I probably won't rush back, but I'd certainly return at some point. Definitely worth checking out when in the area. Also, to see what the specials are (and the soups of the day) you can check the website, which is updated regularly.
"the experience is akin to going to dinner at your Polish sister-in-law's house - it's definitely decent Polish food....but it's definitely not as good as when your own Polish grandma makes it. The food lacks grandma's finesse, practice, and dedication."
I think this is a spot on comment. Great prices though. Well worth it for some very filling food.