STANWOOD — The pierogi are back.
After making their Snohomish County debut this past summer with the sale of Polish pierogi dumplings at the Arlington and Port Susan farmers markets, Sara and Wojtek Lisicki have a new restaurant, Polska Kuchnia, near the Amtrak platform in downtown Stanwood.
Get yourself there. Ride the train if you have to. The food is a treasure.
The Lisickis prepare everything on the menu themselves, including their own farmers cheese, kielbasa and other sausages.
Sara and Wojtek (pronounced like Voytek), who live in Bothell, are hanging onto their tech-industry day jobs. For now the Polish Kitchen is open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s been about a year now since I started practicing making pierogi to Wojtek’s satisfaction,” said Sara, 44, a native of Montesano in southwest Washington. “I never expected that less than a year later we would open a restaurant.”
Wojtek has a background in restaurant management, but his story is more interesting than just that.
Polska Kuchnia has a lovely small dining room dominated by an easily recognizable Solidarnosc (Solidarity) sign from 1980s Poland. That’s when Wojtek and thousands of others joined his neighbor, Lech Walesa, who would later become president, in an uprising against Soviet control of Poland.
The restaurant’s name on the awning sign is painted in the same red font.
Wojtek, 60, is proud of his background. Because of his involvement in Solidarity and the Catholic Church in Poland, he left his family behind to escape certain reprisal from the Soviets. He sought political asylum in the United States, made his way to a Polish community in South Carolina, learned English by signing onto a local fishing boat, went to college to be an accountant and at some point started climbing the corporate ladder at a national pizza chain. He was moved to California and then the Tacoma area. Long story short, he ended up in Bothell where he met his neighbor, Sara.
They married in 2003 and he took her to Poland in 2006.
“That’s when I fell in love with Polish food,” Sara said.
Wojtek said his wife learned to prepare the food from a cookbook written in Polish. Sara laughed. Wojtek smiled. He learned to make pierogi as a child standing in the kitchen as his family rolled out, cut, stuffed and folded the dough.
My husband and I visited Polska Kuchnia twice this month and we started both meals with pierogi stuffed with beef and onions; sauerkraut, mushrooms and onions; potato, cheese and onions; and a vegetable medley.
But the Polska Kuchnia menu is so much more.
While the Lisickis and their employee James Hall are cooking, the front of the house is run by a young woman of Polish descent, Anastassia Geiger, who dogged the couple to hire her.
“I told my Polish grandmother back in the Midwest that I’m now working in a Polish restaurant and she cried tears of joy,” Geiger said.
Ana, as she is known, encourages customers to try an appetizer.
We’ve had barszcz (beet soup like borscht, only better because of its beef stock) and the cabbage and kielbasa soup in a big bowl with sour cream and bread for $8.75. Ask Ana to bring the house-made sledzie (pickled herring) with rye bread and sour cream for $6.25. A plate of four pierogi is $6.
Polska Kuchnia is now serving wine and beer. Our recommendations are for the Bernardynski mead and the Zywiec porter.
Our favorite entrees so far include:
Bigos, which is a stewlike mix of pork shoulder, kielbasa, beef chuck, cabbage sauerkraut, mushrooms, onions, prunes, red wine and juniper berries. It is served with dilled potatoes and rye bread for $12.25.
Pierogi z Biala Kielbasa. The dumplings and sausage plate comes with a tasty pickled cole slaw, called surowka, for $11.
Kotlet z drobiu, which is a chicken breast rolled and filled, coated and fried, and served with surowka and soup for $12.25.
Kotlet Schabowy, which is a breaded and butter-fried pork tenderloin topped with a delicious mushroom sauce. It is served with potatoes, surowka and soup for $14.75.
Anyone with a north European background will enjoy these hearty meals. And remember that fermented cabbage is good for your gut health.
We are looking forward to going back to try the cabbage rolls and potato pancakes, as well as a chance to buy a bunch of house-smoked kabanosy sticks (better than pepperoni) for snacks to keep in the car or eat on the hiking trail.
For dessert, we’ve tried sernik, a creamy not-too-sweet traditional Polish cheesecake made with the Lisickis’ cheese and topped with a choice of their homemade compotes made from blueberries, cherries and strawberries for $6.25, and nalesniki na slodko, three to-die-for crepes filled with those compotes or sweetened farmers cheese for $6.75.
Go hungry and ready to enjoy these traditional and fresh-made Polish foods.
8620 271st St. NW, Stanwood
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday; https://www.facebook.com/Polska.Kuchnia.2015; 206-355-2893
Alcohol: Beer and wine
The restaurant’s commercial kitchen is available for rent Monday through Thursday.