Global Bites without the Flights | Karczma Polish Restaurant

I’ll know exactly how Polish I am when my mom receives the results of her DNA test in 6-8 weeks, but at our guesses I’m about 30%. I identify more with being Irish because of my name, my extreme bond with my cousins on my dad’s side, and that Ireland was the first country I traveled to back in the day. But every time we saw my grandfather growing up, there was babka on the table. And to this day, when we visit my mom’s aunts and uncle, it’s there. I’ve tried a variety of “the best babkas in NYC”, but nothing’s the same as that cheese babka from the Polish bakeries in Trenton, NJ. In addition to the prevalence of babka in my life, every Christmas Eve dinner that I’ve ever had is kielbasa, because that’s what my mom’s family had when she was little.


On Monday, I traveled to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to experience Polish food at Karczma with One Carry On, Stories my Suitcase Could Tell, and Which Way to Somewhere for Global Bites without the Flights. Marie (One Carry On) suggested this place as she had been with visitors from Poland and it got the official seal of approval.

The place was adorable and felt like a local restaurant in a small village. The servers were in traditional Polish dress and a wishing well was right next to our table. I made a wish which feels wasted because it’s lofty and feels very unobtainable at the moment. But if there’s anywhere for it to come true, it would be in a wishing well in the middle of a Polish restaurant in Greenpoint.

We started off with some Polish beers – Zywiec for me, which of course was pronounced by our waitress in no way I would have imagined. I should have known by the way the last names in my mom’s family tree are pronounced that I’d get everything wrong.


For appetizers, we ordered Oscypek, a Highlander Style Smoked Cheese {breaded and fried, served with cranberry sauce}, which looked like mozzarella sticks but tasted more like brie and something else I had trouble placing. We also ordered potato and cheese pierogis. I’ve also had pierogis as part of my Ukrainian Global Bites, but those we ordered steamed. Though our waitress said that boiled pierogis were more traditional, she said the fried were tastier. So we got a mix of both, and sure enough, the fried were that emoji with two hands in the air (aka “praise”). I tried to get the girls excited about Peasant Style Lard {mixed with bacon and spices, served with village style bread}, but I was shot down.


As my main, I ordered the plate of Polish specialties to try a real variety. The dish came with 3 more pierogis (all fried, 1 potato + cheese, 1 pork, and 1 sauerkraut/mushroom), 2 potato pancakes, kielbasa, hunter’s stew {sauerkraut, kielbasa, pork, mushrooms, plums – cooked with red wine}, and stuffed cabbage {stuffed with pork, rice, and covered in tomato basil sauce). I have never liked any kind of cabbage (including sauerkraut) so I knew I wouldn’t like it stuffed, but I still tried a bite because it’s my duty as creator of Global Bites. The sauerkraut in the dishes wasn’t enough to make my taste buds shudder. In fact, everything else was really good, but my favorite was the kielbasa, perhaps because it brings back the best memories on Christmas Eve of opening the Babysitter’s Club Mystery Game in 1994 shortly after dinner. A true definition of comfort food.


Sadly, it was that kielbasa that didn’t make it’s way into my to-go box and instead rolled onto the floor of Karczma. Luckily I only have to wait seven more months to have it again. If only I hadn’t wasted my wish.


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