If you’re like most New Yorkers, you not only came here from somewhere else, but your grandparents came to that somewhere else from somewhere farther still. And if you’re like most New Yorkers, though you longed to leave where you came from, you long to return somehow to the land of your grandparents, or at least to the feeling you had when you sat at your Babi’s kitchen table, wide-eyed, mouth-watering, as she spooned out something impossibly delicious just for you, and the very steam rising from it spelled out love.
Doma na rohu owners (and husband and wife) Michael and Evie Polesny, acted upon precisely the same feeling, recreating the food of their Czech, German, Austrian and Croatian grandmothers and great-grandmothers in a space that is at once Old World and True Village, physically just a block west of now all-American Bleecker, but figuratively – mystically – worlds and years away.
In the past year and a half since they opened the homey dark-wood lined space at the corner of Morton Street and Seventh Avenue, a slow stream of Czechs and Slovaks, Germans, Hungarians, and all the generations once or twice removed, have been doing food-based double-takes over rich, mildly-spicy Gulash with homemade spaetzel (a German egg noodle), Czech-style Roast Duck with light, fluffy knedlicky (Czech bread dumplings boiled as a giant loaf, then sliced with a thread), platters of grilled German and Polish sausages with heaping side servings of sauerkraut and red cabbage (delicately flecked with apples) or a German potato salad whose vinegary tang is perfectly poised between a slight sweetness and crunchingly salty bits of bacon.
This fall, they up the Eastern ante, continuing their monthly pig roasts, but now offering anytime roasts of a variety of traditional whole animals, unusually delicious smoked, grilled meats, an absurdly enticing a la carte menu that allows you to choose Knedilicky OR spaetzle -- all of which politely says, Nein, danke, to fusion food.
Ten to fifteen friends can have their own pig roast feast with just 4 days notice. The slow-roasted suckling pig is brought whole to the table, head and all, with overflowing plates of potato pancakes or spaetzle or Czech dumplings, applesauce and red cabbage served family-style – and of course, big glasses of Pilsner Urquell from the traditional Czech tap, imported specially to beam out over the bar of this Village restaurant. This fall, the roast offerings expand with Hudson Valley chickens, ducks, goose and venison on offer for parties of four to fifteen people. Prices range from $25 to $30 for these roasts, and the dinner always includes a round of wine or beer; strudel can be added for $5 a plate.
Something to be thankful for then, remembering how those Omas and those Babis gave a sigh at those first Thanksgiving tables, like all of us New Yorkers – a sigh for all they left behind, and another as they thanked God and lucky stars for bringing them here, to a well-spread table in a city full of promise.
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