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Oct 19, 2010 11:00 PM

Bona Restaurant --- Polish in Menlo Park?

Has anyone tried the new Polish restaurant, Bona, in Menlo Park? It opened about a month ago in the space that housed Trattoria Buon Gusto, a sweet little Sicilian spot, and some other Italian tenants since then.

The odd thing is that the website, , gives the address as Maloney Lane. Yes, the entrance is on that side street, but I believe that the postal address (and google mapping) should be 651 Oak Grove Ave., Suite H.

Bona Restaurant
651 Oak Grove Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025

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  1. Ah, that's where they are! And thanks for digging up the menu. The fact that they have bigos, flaki, and zurek ... all the classics, not upscale duck and similar. A real down-home place. I will get over there and report post-haste.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow

      And the prices are so low, when rent in Menlo Park can't be cheap. Maybe the lunch biz helps.

      I look forward to your report (post-haste!). The one thing that I did like at Old Warsaw was the pickle soup, and i've since made it a few times for myself. Chopin in Walnut Creek is another Polish restaurant you should check out, quite special.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Would you give us your pickle soup recipe? Sounds delicious!

        1. re: The Librarian

          To give you an idea of what this soup might be (since recipes are off-topic for this board), here's a link to a blog showing a child making the soup.

          I cut the potatoes into a small dice, use half the amount of flour and add some grated onion for a less hearty and more delicate style. It's a great way to use your dill pickle juice and the rest of the jar of old pickles that have gone soft. I've added a quarter-head of cabbage, grated, leftover from making something else, grated a limp carrot buried in the bottom of the vegetable bin, you get the idea. Super easy.

          Pickle soup thread on Home Cooking Board

    2. We've had Sunday dinner there for the past 2 weeks. The soups we tried, barszcz (clear red beet soup with meat dumplings) and the pickle soup, were excellent. Soups are an important part of the Polish cuisine, these pass my test as they taste like those I grew up on. We also tried two types of pierogi, meat filled and mushroom/sauerkraut. Good tasting fillings, nice pasta casing. These are boiled and served with deeply browned onions. We've also had the stuffed cabbage, both with the tomato sauce (a simple, fresh tasting tomato puree) and with the mushroom sauce, which was fantastic. The room is small, the wines were all Italian (I think they were going to serve Italian food as well as Polish but have gone to an all Polish menu).
      I'm looking forward to sampling more of the menu. It does taste like the food in my home, growing up and it's nice to have that available without my having to do the labor intensive bit.

      3 Replies
      1. re: krysia

        Thank you for telling us about it. The bigos and pierogi are calling my name.

        1. re: krysia

          Looks great! What is the atmosphere like? Is it the type of place we could bring small kids?

          1. re: jmarek

            I drove by and the atmosphere looks pretty relaxed. The place isn't packed and is pretty casual so I think kids would be fine.

        2. Thanks so much to Melanie for the pointer and to krysia for the review. We tried it tonight and it was wonderful! The borscht was excellent with great sweet/sour balance and depth of flavor. The flaczki (tripe soup) was also excellent. This soup was new to me; it was sort of like a goulash soup with tripe, but with different seasonings. Both were very appetizing.

          For entrees, we had the bigos and the sauerkraut/mushroom pierogi. The pierogi had a nice chewy pasta contrasting with the tasty fillings and brown onion garnish. The bigos is another dish new to me, but the counterpoint of the cabbage, the braising sauce, and the meats was wonderful. The mashed potatos served with it were a little on the cool side and just OK, but everything else we had was fantastic.

          The mushrooms in both our entrees were excellent, so the cabbage rolls with mushroom sauce sound like the next thing I want to try.

          The wine list is mostly Italian - Queen Bona came from Milan and Bari before she married the king of Poland - but also includes three selections from Woodside Vineyard, available by the glass or bottle.

          Please support this place! Most of the other parties there included some Polish speakers, but this place deserves to draw from a wider audience. What's really nice is that unlike some other central or eastern European restaurants in the area, this is not just meat meat meat. The local wines and the root vegetable specialties (cabbage, potato, and beets) offer more variety than some previous attempts at this cuisine.

          As bbulkow mentioned, it's a family place. It's nice but it's not fancy.

          Highly recommended! We'll be back to try more of this menu.


          6 Replies
          1. re: mdg

            I'm waiting for a table now. Place is packed, nearly all the customers are speaking Polish. The waitress says it's always busy on Sundays, so make a res. The lady waiting next to me said her kids ate here last week for the first time and told her, "This is grandma's cooking!" Sauerkraut pierogi already sold out.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Since I left this post here pre-dinner, I wanted to add a quick note post-dinner, as there were some significant service and food problems. Keep your wits about you when ordering, make sure your server understands you, speak up early and often when things are going downhill.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Could you elaborate? I was looking forward to trying it soon. I can deal with service issues,but don't want to bother if the food isn't tasty.

                  1. re: YSZ

                    The food we had was very tasty. Our Friday evening had no service issues, and was a lot less crowded than what Melanie described on Sunday. Try it out and see what you think, then please report back!


                    1. re: YSZ

                      Sorry, typing w thumbs on my phone.

                      Highlights: flaczki tripe soup, while not as complex and concentrated as the Czech version at DJ's Bistro in Concord, this was delicious. Also liked the beet salad served alongside the beef goulash (sunday special) with dumplings. Wish this salad was available to order ala carte as this plus the soup would be a nice lunch. Won't be ordering the goulash again.

                      ETA: nor reordering the bigos, mushroom soup (the most awful glop), apple cake. maybe the pierogi, but not the potato-cheese ones we got by mistake.

              2. Bona is participating in Silicon Valley Restaurant Week Nov 3-10, 2010. 3-courses for $25 before tip & tax. Menu linked here:

                1. Bona is quite good!

                  I didn't see any service problems that had been mentioned. I was there on a rainy wednesday night, and the place was about half full (which is very good for that location). The couple that clearly runs it had another staff, and don't have a very slick operation - very much like a homey mom and pop.

                  Don't miss the soups. I had the zurek and GF had the mushroom soup. Both were very nice. I don't remember zurek being cream-based in Poznan where I became familiar with it, but the characteristic bite of the sour from the rye was in the house. Very nice soups.

                  The beef rolls were nice meat, a decent gravy, but were made by the inclusion of pickle in the roll. I don't know if that's common, but it's darned tasty. The bigos wasn't what I remember from Poznan at all, but as pointed out here, bigos varies from region to region and chef to chef. This one was 90% sourkraut, instead of the 70% white beans I remember.

                  Compared to the online menu, what's being served there is less cutting edge. They've dropped the tatare and flaki. Which, frankly, I don't blame them for. Keeping high quality beef fresh, and stocking good tripe, is worth it only when the dishes are popular enough.

                  Still - great little place, it'll be on our regular rotation.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Polish beef rolls (actually same or very similiar to German rinderrouladen) should absolutely contain a sliced pickle. But bigos being 70% white beans?! I realize it has lots of versions, but the differences are mostly in things thrown into either 100% sauerkraut or sauerkraut mixed with fresh white cabbage in various proportions. Beans, however, are not known to me as part of bigos repertoire. And I fancy myself to be something of an expert on that particular dish ;-)

                    1. re: Bigos

                      That was how I remember it at a couple of places in Poznan when I studied there in the late 80's. I don't actually pretend to be an expert - perhaps what I saw was unusual.