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Peasant Lard (Greenpoint)

这里应该让毛泽东很高兴。 Mao would be happy. As would Fidel.

Karczma 136 Greenpoint ave, Brooklyn.

Peasant lard was my dish of choice at this very fine establishment, found just off Manhattan in Greenpoint. It was filling for under 5.00 dollars.

Absent were the peasants, but one perhaps has to travel to Poland's rural regions for that.

Peasant Lard "Mix with bacon and spices, served with village bread."

The reason I found this place was its very quaint and subtle exterior, that does not scream out. It simply invites you into a cozy place with a bar, big tables in the back, nice selection of Polish and Czech Republic beers on tap, and a wait staff that all come from the region or near it that the dishes originate in.

The other dish I encountered there was the Blood Sausage. Like the lard, this comes from the appetizer selection.

These appetizers are, for me, the favored selections, as portion wise, they suit, and are similar to portions in Poland. One could arrive with a guest, or two or three guests accompanying, and order up several or more of these appetizers, and acquire a solid table display of polish cuisine, with beers in the tall glasses or tall wide mugs, indicative of the region, arriving continuously. The atmosphere is that comfortable.

So with this in mind, other dishes on this appetizer menu I recommend are Pierogi (cheese/potato/kraut/mushroom/meat) for 6.50;
White grilled Kielbasa (unsmoked) 6.50;
Herring in Cream (house made0 5.50; The Grilled Blood Sausage is quite large, served with saute of cabbage and onoin. It is 6.50 also. There are two tartar dishes, one reads 'Steak" and the other reads 'Salmon". The first is 8.00 the aquatic is 9.00.

Hunter Bacon is a must, at 5.00, to quote 'double smoked bacon served with fried onoin and lemon garlic. There is a Village Style Fried Potato dish (seasoned with garlic and dill)

They have tripe soup, Pickle soup, Day soup. they also have White Borscht w/ bread.These run btw 3.00 to 4.75 sm and lg day soup; 4.50 trip one size; pickle is 3.25 one size. borcht is 4.25.

There is Chicken Noodle Soup, but why would one order this at a Polish restaurant. It is only 3.00.

There are sandwiches that make it suitable to American eaters, but the one to go for would be the Karczma's Bacon Sandwich at 7 dollars.

Plates are one full page, and include stew; Polish Kielbasa grilled with Onion; stuffed cabbage basil sauce (rice and pork inside). The Lard, our conversations with the friendly waitresses, and beer overtook me, but I think my friend had a slab of meat, thick, and perhaps grilled. That may have been the Pork Shoulder grilled (10.00) or the pork chop grilled w/ mushroom(9.50).

One plate is Roasted Hocks in Beer. 9.50.

For 11.00 you can get a plate of polish specialties with potato pancakes and the pierogi etc.

If you are looking for an affordable and cozy place with very friendly staff who have a knowledge of the region and the food, and a place to kick back with a large table full of food, this is a must.

I was told one can't go wrong in ordering from the menu. one of the waitstaff stated that, in a very honest way.

There is another Polish place in Brooklyn that is more like Poland, due to everything there. That place one really feels like a foreigner.

It is called U Wojtka. It reminds me of a neighborhood restaurant/bar in Poland. The recorded music is very Polish and is lively. And so is the place.

The food is quite good, and Polish.
The goulash was nice tender thick beef with sauce, but instead of noodle, it rested on pancake like destination.

Our party of seasoned foreigners often found in foreign places, arrived for food and Polish beer, at 4:30 pm. After the food, there was no need to hit a night spot. We were in it, though all customers besides ourselves in the establishment, were Polish.

If there is an enclave, in the true sense of the word, this is it. The interior has not changed since they opened, some time ago, as it serves the Polish community in Boro Park and beyond.

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  1. I forgot to mention that the owners come from Bialystok.

    In 2003 I visited Bialystok, simply for the reason that it had no write up in any travel guide.

    Since I visited, so I was told by one of the waitresses who also comes from Bialystok, it has become a tourist destination. It now features in travel guides, but I am glad I visited there when the streets rarely saw a foreigner.

    There is a Belarus consulate, in a small sized house there, for one to get ones visa to Belarus. Another added benefit.

    New York City has its own history of Jewish people coming from Białystok and making New York City there home. Without googling that, I will say it was late 1800s and early 1900s.

    If one walks down Grand Street, in Manhattan, there is much of this history in the shop for the bread, and street signs.

    Greenpoint's expression of Białystok is great. I dare say, the only place for Peasant Lard.

    1. Mao and Fidel can kiss my capitalist ass, but I've heard good things about Karczma too. Heard the hoks in beer was especially good... There are a dozen or so Polish restaurants like Karczma in Greenpoint, but I believe it is the rather newest one. The interior of a lot of those places is also done deliberately kitschy...Kiszka Meat Market, an amazing Polish butcher shop on Manhattan Ave. around the corner, sells the blood sausage, hunter's bacon, and pretty much every other polish meat product. I wonder if they sell or make the lard dish as well?...Brouwerij Lane down the street past Franklin would be a good place for before or after beers- variable sizes, awesome selection.

      18 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        I've been to Karczma a bunch of times, most recently in February of 2012. Here's a strange bit of good news - the food has gotten significantly better over the last 5 years. More interesting too - they've broadened out from the standard Polish Trinity of kielbasa/pork cutlet/chicken cutlet.

        The lard is quite good. On my last visit I had a starter special - bacon and sauteed onions. Thick slab bacon . Excellent.

        For mains my friend had roasted ham hocks In beer with warm saute cabbage - he liked it very much. I had the pork shoulder with mushrooms. Because I can occasionally be a glutton I ordered a side dish of the very good potato pancakes. (The pork shoulder appears to be a special - I don't see it on the current menu.)

        All in all it was a very satisfying meal.

        Karczma is worth visiting for the bar alone. The food is a bonus.

        1. re: Silverjay

          Get the hocks, they are the thing to get.

          I've always gotten the lard free with bread, didn't know one could order it.

          1. re: Silverjay

            "my capitalist ass"

            Well, how is it that you market such.

            Karczma is so wonderfully great.

            My last visit was for beer only. They have a limited but fine selection. The Czech Republic beer on tap is one of my favorites. Unlike American owned places, these taps serve nice glasses of beer.

            Staff is always friendly, and fun to have conversation with, and even talk of the region and its relation to the entire dining experience.

            I have not eaten at many polish venues here in the States, and am glad I reserve such for such places as this.

            Boro Park's U Wojtka is also very good. They cater totally to the Polish in that area and perhaps some from beyond. The food is certainly authentic, as is the experience. It functions as a bar as well.

            What most Americans would call cheesy modern tunes, are actually wonderful local style dancing songs. If you want to feel that you are in Poland, check this place out. All beer is of the Polish variety and come in the 16 oh zee bottles.

            Drink up, "happy hour is now enforced by law"-Jello Biafra

            1. re: jonkyo

              "Unlike American owned places, these taps serve nice glasses of beer. "

              Do you refer to the beer or glassware?

              1. re: MVNYC

                I refer to taps....and the taste of the beer that comes from them.

                I upset folks I am with due to faulty taps, by projectile vomiting on the outside of establishments, if I have no other option than consume in these places.

                Microbrew beer, and even the imported beer is difficult to drink to say the least, in a hit and miss way regarding domestic established watering holes, partially due to the quality of taps, and the beer.

                Bottled Stella is what I am limited to in such places.

                1. re: jonkyo

                  This can be a problem but it is not everywhere. All good beer bars get their taps cleaned regularly. Near Karzcma is a place called the Diamond. The owner there is meticulous about the draft lines.

                  For someone who enjoys locally sourced indigenous products it seems odd that you so enjoy to quaff industrial produced light lager brew

                  1. re: MVNYC

                    I know, right? Diamond is great. Brouwerij Lane is great. And a walk down Manhattan Ave. brings you to Torst, another great one....Polish beer is nice too.

                    1. re: MVNYC

                      I have to say Dogfish (but too strong) is not bad. I have had some good pints of Devil Hop. I used to go to the Blind Tiger when it was on Hudson, and drink Leffe and others such as their cast selection.

                      I love Hennepin and others from that brewer. That would be Brewery Ommegang, very indigenous, in its making, though not in its roots, and tradition.

                      I suppose if one were truly to go indigenous it would be Utica Club.

                      Schlitz is returning too.

                      Living in England sort of kills ones appreciation of the ales in the US microbrew, similar to buying and eating cheese in Europe makes one wonder how Americans can apply such a word to what it makes.

                      Polish beer is great. I toted back two large bags, from East Europe in '03 before the shoe bomber ruined carry on liquids. One bag contained 16 oz or so Polish bottles yet to be opened. The other was Lithuanian beer. Since then, in the past 10 years polish beer has gained in popularity and marketing.

                      If one knows where to go, one can find Slovenian Lashko, and the Lithuanian Svyturys.

                      Pivo or Alaus. Pivo is the extent of my polish. Alaus is of my Lithuanian.

                      1. re: jonkyo

                        Common neophyte tropes like complaining about faulty taps, confusing brewery names with beers, using the term microbrew, broad dismissal of US beer scene in favor of England (of all places!) will only set you up for a more enjoyable time when you finally tune in to the good stuff we are lucky to have available to us here in New York....You can get a ton of Polish beers around Greenpoint. I enjoy the Okocim Porter in the winter time. And Tatra, I recently learned, has one of the best ABV to low calorie count that you can find.

                        1. re: Silverjay

                          The wonderful beer selection available here almost makes bringing beer back from overseas not quite worth the cost or space. But my friends and I have all brought back 6-12 beers each from recent international trips as souvenirs if nothing else. Silverjay, thanks for the Polish beer recommendations.

                          1. re: mookleknuck

                            I thought I had written somewhere that since '03 in the last 10 years, we have seen Polish beer become more visible in differing markets all over the North East.

                            This is good.

                            At the time, bringing them back was necessary. Especially for the Lithuanian beers.

                            This type of beer is very good to my taste buds, and system.

                            I think geography, being that Germany is to the west, and migration of tradition of brewing makes this region wonderful.

                            A favored beer of mine for any time is the Ukrainian Obolon.

                            The faulty taps was something veteran Stout and Ale drinkers in the UK I would chat with at pubs, used to judge where in say London one could get a really good Guinness.

                            Taste buds are not manufatured in a factory, and I thank the creator.......nature for that. Otherwise dialogue about food would not happen.

                            Great to hear the suggestions for the Polish beers, yes. I take to many of them, just do not have names down. I know the logos though. Semiology over phonetic spelling.

                            Pivo is only two syllables. That one is easy for the untrained foreigner.

                            Cheers.

                            1. re: jonkyo

                              Again, Obolon is the name of a brewery, not a beer. You're probably talking about their Euro lager, which tastes like many of that region's national brewery type of brews. They are a little on the bready side for me and I don't hate on them, but I'm not going to schlepp lagers or pilsners or ales from overseas. Don't see the point. Belgian abby beers are another story though........I think this region does Baltic Porters and that ilk the best, but I've never had the one from Obolon........I think you can find Obolon beers at some of the markets in Brighton Beach, maybe at New Beer Dist. in the city, and potentially at places in Greenpoint.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                Obolon Brewery - Kiev, Ukraine - Beers:

                                Obolon Lager is the beer. obolon is the brewer. Yes.

                                I like Jeep. But jeep is the brand name, not the auto.

                                Got it.

                                Thanks.

                                Belgian beers, are easily acquired in many places, even smaller corner delis depending on the residential market.

                                Lowlanders is a great bar in London, just east of Kingways and south of High Holbron. That place represents the beers of the lowlands between Denmark and Belgium. Perhaps some reading this have traipsed this brewery hive. Here I tend away from Belgian beer, but love it in Hennepin from Brewery Ommegang, and Los Vox is good too..

                                I scout out Obolon no problem, and yes, Greenpoint is a sure.

                                1. re: jonkyo

                                  Some Belgian abby beers are not available in the United States and it makes sense to buy and return with them because of their exclusivity. Further, they also improve with age and are nice for cellering and adding to a collection. None of this is something you would do with a macro--Euro-lager except for the sheer novelty of collecting the bottle or the memory of all.......TØRST on Manhattan Ave. is run by Danish brothers who brew their own beer and often serve other low country beers....You are perhaps thinking of Rare Vos from Ommegang...

                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                    ", they also improve with age and are nice for cellering and adding to a collection" I am aware of this.

                                    I am not a huge fan of Belgium Abby beer.

                                    I had room for the carry so the beer was nothing more than a whim. I also brought back some excellent Polish vodka, and a book by the Polish writer and thinker Czeslaw Milos. The Vodka one is likely not to find here, though in '03 one would be hard pressed to find the Lithuanian beers I carted back.

                                    Beer adventures are always fun to hear.

                                    My friend attempted to enter China with beer from Cambodia. The customs officials must have wanted it, so they gave her an exorbitant tax, she refused to pay, and left the beers at the gate. They probably gave them as gifts to someone for a favor. Thus establishing 關係 guanxi. I never had a problem totting wine back to Mainland.

                                    Rare Vos, yes, I am mixing my Chile wine with my Belgian-US Beer. That is Los Vascos, from Chile.

                                    I shall try that venue you mentioned owned by Danes.

                                    Here is the Lowlander in london: http://www.lowlander.com/

                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                      It is always interesting to me how people love generic macro lagers from whatever country they have been to. To me they generally fall into two camps. Those that love being able to brag about the countries they have visited. The second group is those that associate positive vacation values with the brand. The geunine emotion is there in that a particular beer might evoke fond memories of travel but in the end it's just a generic mass produced lager.

                  2. re: jonkyo

                    I def think you should chat up the older Poles about communism. I think you'll find they really enjoy reminiscing about the good ole days.

                    1. re: jpdoctor

                      I only use this reference as sarcasm, for Americans. 'peasant'...such as peasant revolt, peasant revolution, and of course peasant lard.

                      wit and comical jokes are not necessarily something exogenous groups understand, unless language has bridged in a way that. Food and beer on the other hand, are fine.

                      The Chinese Moaists investors have made vast investments in recent to Poland. That includes industrial parks and the like.

                2. I forgot what this thread was about. Oh, Karczma. I finally made it out there.

                  I gotta say the potato pancakes at Karczma -- perfectly crispy on the edges, soft in the center -- were maybe the best I've ever had. The bigos were overpowered by the red wine and not to my liking at all. Everything else was pretty comparable to my usual places -- Lomzynianka, Christina's, and King's Feast.

                  They were very busy but the service at my table would best be described as disinterested. The place is very nice in a kitschy sort of way and certainly livelier than the others. Prices are about 30% higher. Capitalism a its best? Is the nicer decor and atmosphere worth the extra cost? That depends on whom I'm going with.

                  I wanted to stop for a beer at Brouwerij Lane after dinner but with no a/c, that wasn't going to happen.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: el jefe

                    My favorite bigos in the area is from Northside Bakery on N.8th btween Bedford and Berry. It's primarily a bakery but they have an excellent steam table section of takeout foods. Actually, almost everything here is good but I love their bigos, which is rich with meat and sausage, and is cooked in large quantities to dish out to people at lunch and dinner. I think the bigos gets nice and rich from this rather than perhaps being hastily prepared in a restaurant kitchen. If the steam table is over for the day, they package the bigos to go in small containers. It's better than the bigos from Lomzynianka, Christina's, and some of the butcher shops that also sell it in containers.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      Funny--I googled "bigos", being unfamiliar with this and after a wiki entry, the first item is a 2007 Chowhound 'Home Cooking' entry starting "A few weeks ago, or is it months, Silverjay asked me to post my mother's recipe for Bigos...."
                      And now I know what bigos is.

                      1. re: JonL

                        Yeah I was REALLY into bigos at that time.

                      2. re: Silverjay

                        This is an awesome tip -- bigos is one of my faves, but since it takes a couple of days to make I never get around to doing it anymore. I'll have to check this out.