Category Archives: massachusetts

Cafe Polonia

You’re about to read a tale with a tragic ending, but a very delicious beginning.

It happened two Fridays ago.  For Christmas, I had given Jeremy tickets to Beer Advocate’s Night of the Barrels, a sampling of wood-aged beers in Boston.

Trips to Boston are always a good excuse to explore a slightly different culinary landscape.  Rhode Island is lacking in European restaurants (except, of course, Italian), and cold weather is the perfect time for potatoes and sausages.  So Cafe Polonia seemed like a great dinner choice and was even convenient for travel (right off the Andrew T stop).

We planned to get enough food in our system that the beer wouldn’t go to our heads – what we didn’t expect was eating such delicious and plentiful food that we’d hardly have room for beer.  That, my friends, was the tragedy.

Cafe Polonia
Tripe soup, the Polish Plate, and a Gypsy Pancake at Cafe Polonia

When we saw the menu, we couldn’t help ourselves. There were so many choices I’ve never seen on a US menu, even in Polish restaurants.  We started with soup – tripe (me) and forest mushroom (Jeremy), and had to share the blood sausage appetizer,  and of course it was impossible not to get two entrees.  Jeremy got the Polish Plate, a good sampler with kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, hunter’s stew and pierogies.  I was intriuged by the Gypsy pancake, described as a potato pancake stuffed with goulash. The menu did say “giant”, but I didn’t expect the two dinner-plate sized potato pancakes with goulash.  It was so delicious I finished half (which is probably twice a normal dinner portion), and was pained that I didn’t live close enough to take home a doggy bag.

You can imagine how full we were when we got to the beer tasting.  But would you have been able to resist?

Cafe Polonia
611 Dorcester Ave.
South Boston, MA

Boston Barbecue

Early one Thursday morning, I was blearily explaining to my co-workers that I had been out late in Boston the night before. I explained that no, I wasn’t out dancing – I was eating barbecue.

You can imagine their surprised looks. It would be quite a stretch to say that Boston is known for its barbecue, but the city was fortunate to have the Phantom Gourmet host a “BBQ Beach Party” right next to City Hall. The festival, which lasted five days, had ten vendors serving up some of the best barbecue out there. Different styles and regions were represented.

First, we tried a large sampler platter from Virginia’s Johnson’s Bar-B-Que, which included ribs, pulled pork and chicken. Our stomachs happy but still ready for action, we moved over to Florida’s Porky n’ Beans for a double-decker Kansas City sandwich. The sandwich had one layer of brisket and one of pulled pork. I especially liked their spicy sauce and wished I could have brought some home. For dessert, we tried a decked-out cannoli from Wholly Cannoli. No meat in this one, just a sweet finish.

Treats from the Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party
A Johnson’s Bar-B-Que Sampler, the grill at Porky N’ Beans. More photos here >

My favorite part of the festival was obviously the barbecue. I wished I would have had a larger appetite, more friends along to nibble from, or another day to go back. On the other hand, I thought the festival could have done without the “beach party” and offered a better beer selection. But I would gladly go again.

The event is slated to take place again next June. My recommendation is to skip the crowds and go as early as possible on Wednesday or Thursday. We were lucky to experience instant barbecue gratification, but heard the lines on the weekend meant over an hour wait! Also, bring friends so you can share and sample.