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Fill up at Matka & Papa's with Polish favorites, comfort food

My significant other's Mother is our research department. When she sees a Cheap Eats target, she reports it. (Maybe the FBI and CIA could take lessons from her?)

Such was the case with Matka & Papa’s. As the name suggests, Polish food is on the menu, with specialties by none other than Carol Misnik, a local Polish celebrity chef of sorts with a following.

According to a recent Lancaster Bee story, she has 44 years of cooking under her apron and came out of retirement to “guest cook” at Matka & Papa’s. She is quoted, “All day long I’m doing nothing but watching that idiot box … I get bored.” Well.

We ventured in twice, hoping to get glimpse of Misnik.

Carol Misnik, cook holds the Polish Platter for Two. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

According to friends Mary and Ken, the place has been shined up since they last visited the former occupant, My Little Margie’s.

The menu includes lots of comfort food. On this visit we stuck with Polish favorites.

Pierogi (cheese, sauerkraut, potato) are $2.95 each, a platter (six) is $13.95. Golumbki ($11.95) comes with smoked sausage and sauerkraut. A Polish Reuben ($8.95) layers Polish sausage, sauerkraut and Swiss on rye with Thousand Island dressing.

The Polish Platter ($14.95) and Polish Platter for Two ($26.95) sound pricey for a Cheap Eats, but on Saturdays and Sundays they are discounted $1/$2. The platter includes golumbki, pierogi, sauerkraut, Polish sausage and potato pancakes.

We weren’t disappointed when the giant platters arrived loaded with food. Were we at a Polish wedding?

The delicious, fork-tender golumbki were filled with the ideal ground-beef-to-rice ratio. Best of all, the tomato sauce wasn’t sweet (a peeve of mine).

Matka & Papa’s Restaurant & Bar. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

The sauerkraut was nice and sour with a good bold taste. On the other hand, large smoked sausage links were milder, with a thin casing.

Large, nicely browned potato pancakes were solid with help from salt, pepper and sour cream.

Pierogi were the real test. The dough was delicate and the fillings all tasty, including the sweeter farmers cheese, as it should be.

A good portion of our platter for two (two each golumbki, sausage and potato pancakes, plus four pierogi with a pile of sauerkraut), came home for lunch.

There are classic dinners — meatloaf ($9.95) to turkey ($11.95) — that include soup or salad, mashed potatoes or fries and vegetable. Daily specials include Monday cube steak ($11.95), Tuesday chicken Parmesan ($10.95), Wednesday breaded pork chop(s) ($10.95/$13.95).

Stuffed potato pancakes ($8.95), served daily, include ham and cheddar, spinach and mushroom, and bacon and cheddar. Wraps and flatbreads ($7.95-$9.95), burgers ($7.95-$9.50), salads ($4.95-$10.95) and sandwiches ($6.95-$9.50) round out the menu.

The darling Misnik was working the room Friday night when we stopped in with Fast Freddie The Father.

Misnik also is known for her fish fry. Friday seafood selections include a whole or half fish fry ($12.95/$8.95) with coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad and fries. A fish sandwich with fries is $8.95.

The half fish fry (breaded or battered) was more than enough. Both SigO and Fast Freddie lapped up the tasty homemade sides not overly dressed with mayo. The fish was fresh and not overly breaded or battered. Nearby broiled fish dinners ($13.95) looked excellent.

My beef on weck ($9.95) was the usual, stacked with lots of beef and a mound of hot fresh fries. Good, but for my money, I’d stick with the Polish. After all, while the bruschetta chicken sandwich ($9.50) might be tasty, we’d rather keep Carol behind the stove for as long as she wishes.

CHEAP EATS

Matka & Papa’s Restaurant & Bar
5044 Broadway, Depew (684-6556, Facebook)

Hours: Opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon Sunday. Kitchen serves until 9 p.m.
Gluten-free options: No specific gluten-free menu or items.
Wheelchair-accessible: Yes, but tight.
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