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02 December 2008

Eating Polish in Dublin

Caroline Byrne unearths a Polish gem with true home-style cooking in Dublin.

Gospoda Polska Polish restaurant
15 Capel Street,
Dublin 1
T: 01 8749394

On my first visit to this quaint little Polish restaurant on Capel Street, I knew that this was going to become one of favourite restaurants in Dublin full stop.
The waitress who served us all evening was charming and great fun, and seeing our enthusiasm was very happy to elaborate on all the dishes we ordered. While I knew how much I had enjoyed the experience, I also knew that my knowledge of Polish restaurants was limited to this one occasion. So I decided to return with a gang of friends, half Polish and half Irish, so we could make a proper decision about Gospoda Polska.
The girls (Polish) both decided on the borsch (barszcz) – a traditional Polish broth made from beetroot and either beef or chicken stock – with a mushroom and cabbage patty (EUR*6.50). I also had the borsch, except with cabbage ravioli (EUR*6.50), sort of like a Polish version of tortellini al brodo. This is a delicious, warming dish that would make a perfect lunch or light meal on a cold day, and I was delighted when both girls declared it to be terrific and just like from home.
Other starters included the beef tartare with mushrooms, onions and sour cucumber, served with a raw egg yolk and a shot of vodka (EUR*11.90) and Polish dumplings filled with cheese, potatoes and fried onions (EUR*9.90), which were very tasty.
Moving on to the mains, the Polish girls, being dainty, decided to opt for starter portions of dumplings, of which there were a variety including cabbage, mushroom and fired onion, and even strawberries and sweet cream (EUR*9.90). True to my Irish roots however, I like a good feed, and order the pork knuckle in horseradish sauce with chips and sour cabbage (EUR*15.90).
My meal evoked the most envy I believe, and rightly so. The meat was falling of the bone and the sour cabbage and horseradish sauce offer a perfect counterbalance to the overall richness. It was absolutely yum.
So too was the Chef’s Cutlet – a grilled pork chop finished off in the oven with tomatoes, onions, garlic sauce and cheese, served with fried baby potatoes (EUR*13.90) – the half a baked duck in cranberry and strawberry sauce with dauphin potatoes (EUR*19.90), and the very traditional Polish pork cutlet (breaded and fried), served with whole, fried potatoes and cucumber salad (EUR*12.90), which our Polish friends told us was very typical of a Sunday lunch dish in Poland.
Overall, the meal was great fun, especially passing around the dishes and talking about the food. Nobody could fault their meal, every bit was delicious, and I was delighted to hear that this was not the fare eaten in restaurants in Poland, but at home. One girl remarked that her experience of Polish eateries in Dublin so far, which is limited and mostly always with the dual function of a pub, had led her not to expect much from Gospoda Polska, but having come here she would definitely be back – especially for the barszcz!
All of us bar one went for one of the homely but yummy desserts, including a cup of fresh fruit with ice cream, cream and streawberry sauce; apple cake and vanilla ice cream; or a more traditional sweet pancake with cottage cheese, whipped cream and sugar (EUR*6.50).
From a general perspective, Gospoda Polska is a very warm, friendly restaurant that will accommodate a large group or satisfy a lone diner simply looking for a bowl of borsch. The portions were generous and the value is fantastic for what you get – good hearty, authentic Polish home-cooking.
Our meal for six, including drinks, came to just over EUR*190. This is a super little restaurant and hopefully it will be around for a long time to come.

Open Monday to Thursday: 12 noon – 11pm, Friday and Saturday: 12 noon – 11.30pm, and Sunday: 12.30pm – 11pm
Booking not necessary
Does not accept credit cards