By Valerie Vinyard
After a decade in business, Polish Cottage has a fresh look, daily specials and a revamped drink menu.
The cozy midtown restaurant closed for part of July for a facelift and additions to its drink menu, to install booths, a bar and new wood flooring. The restaurant reopened July 26 with a bit more capacity, from 48 to 52. The brighter color scheme and new lighting also have resulted in a more bright and open space.
“We tried to refresh everything, to be more friendly,” says Polish Cottage’s owner, Robert Stawicki. “My wife had a vision.”
Agnieszka Stawicka modestly describes what she did to reimagine the pace.
“I’m a little artistic,” she says. “I did those paper cutouts.”
After a decade, Stawicka says it was time to change things.
“We decided to refresh, but we also kept some of the old decorations,” she says. “We decided to do the lighter colors on the walls.”
Customers seem to be happy with the revamped space.
“I think it’s more airy and lighter than before,” says Anna Clayton, a 42-year-old electrical engineer in Tucson. “I’ve visited Poland twice, and it feels like I’m in Poland again when I eat here.”
Polish Cottage opened in September 2011, 10 years after the owners moved to Tucson from Warsaw. They brought recipes that have been in the family for generations.
While diners take advantage of specials and enjoy traditional fare and friendly service, Polish music plays in the background. Happy hour takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays and feature $2 off appetizers and specialty drinks; $3.50 16-ounce Polish beer bottles; and $7 house wines by the glass. A late-night menu is from 7 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and features half-priced bottles of wine. And on Sundays, enjoy $5 mimosas all day.
From 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, buy a bottle of wine and get a dozen free pierogi. On Wednesdays, purchase one order of pierogi and get a second order for half-price.
People tend to think of hearty dishes of meats, pierogi and stuffed cabbage when it comes to Polish food. While that is true, Polish Cottage’s menu also features sandwiches, soups, starters and desserts.
The pierogi are filled with potatoes and cheese, beef, sauerkraut and mushrooms, or sweet farmer’s cheese ($11.49 for eight pieces; $13.95 for 10 pieces; $16.20 for 12 pieces).
Diners who can’t decide can opt for the Polish combo plate ($23.95 for one; $45.50 for two) or the vegetarian polish combo plate ($17.50).
Manager Aleks Stawicka, 22, has managed Polish Cottage for her parents for about three years.
“It’s very homey food,” she says. “A lot of it is stews and sausages. I think for a lot of people it reminds them of home or their family’s cooking. It provides something unique and special.”
While they replaced the wine list with 15 new offerings and added three beer taps with craft selections, she said they left the food menu unchanged.
“That’s what makes us really unique and special,” Stawicka says. “We have a lot of new diners that are coming in. Our regulars are super excited. A lot of people have been enjoying our new cocktails.”
She says the most popular cocktail is the black currant cosmo ($10) with the Polish liqueur Nalewka Babuni, vodka, lime juice and simple syrup.
Don’t let the sound of pickle soup ($5.40 a cup; $6.50 a bowl) dissuade you from trying it. It’s a sour but delightful riot of flavors.
Sandwiches include a Polish kielbasa sandwich ($12.95); a classic Reuben sandwich ($9.95); and a mushroom Swiss burger ($14.95).
We tried a starter of beef stew with French fries ($9.95), which was a smaller but still filling dish with tender beef and veggies.
The pork and rice stuffed cabbage ($10.95 for one roll; $18.95 for two) is a more delicate, flavorful but still filling dish that’s topped with tomato sauce. It comes with a choice of side, such as fried or mashed potatoes, fries, cucumber salad, applesauce, pickled cucumber or a side salad.
Desserts include Polish mainstays as Kolaczki ($7.90 a box), which are traditional Polish cookies made with a cream cheese cookie base and filled with sweet jam; crepes ($9.95 full order; $6.50 half); and sweet pierogi dessert ($7.50).
To end a fantastic meal, Stawicka suggested ordering the Polish apple cake called szarlotka ($7.50), which has crumble on the top and bottom and apple slices, cinnamon and applesauce in the center.
“It’s a very light dessert,” she said. “It’s not too sweet; it’s not overpowering.”
4520 E. Broadway, Tucson
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; closed Mondays