Thursday, April 1, 2010

Syrenka Restaurant

Monday March 29th 2010
Syrenka Restaurant, Richmond and Allegheny, Philadelphia, PA

Monday, work had me taking a Budget moving truck up to what is an incredibly inappropriate area of the so called Garden State, to pick up 88 boxes of “Leaf” and “Chakiwara” tapestries which had been shipped over from Mumbai and were being held in a U.S. customs cargo center. Summing it up, I went to the wrong place in Elizabeth, and then eventually found the right place in Carteret, and barely fit all the boxes in the truck even with the help of the muscle bound warehouse goons all wearing “I Love Puerto Rico” shirts.
Skipping breakfast as always, I had worked up quite the void in my stomach by the time 3:30 rolled around and I was getting back into Philly. Having spotted Syrenka a while ago, but never visiting, I was reminded of it as I drove down Richmond St, having gotten off at an early exit to avoid possible downtown traffic, so I stopped.

It’s a cool area up by Allegheny and Richmond, they’ve got a lot of houses with storefronts showcasing old flowers and antique trash, vintage store front signs, and tons of Polish bars and markets. The inside of Syrenka, much like a lot of places in the neighborhood looks like it might have been exactly the same in 1975. Dated minimal menus, classic cafeteria style counter, wilting newspaper articles hung on the wall without frames. It’s definitely not a place trying to keep up with the times.
No one was in there. For the first minute at least, I was completely alone, no one. For a second I thought it might be like one of those businesses that’s not actually what it says it is, and that maybe I shouldn’t be there, but a nice young woman with a heavy Polish accent came out from the back room and took my order. Figuring I’d keep it simple I ordered an order of potato and cheese pierogies. I washed some of the cargo warehouse grime off my hands in their closet of a bathroom, sipped my ginger ale and waited while she prepared them.
When you walk into a restaurant and not a single other person is eating there it can maybe feel like a bad sign, but that is not the case here. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever had freshly prepared homemade pierogies before, and after eating them I was sure I never had, I would remember something that good.

A heavy aroma of warm dough, just like fresh baked bread, hit me in the face when I opened the container they were in. These were thick doughed, fully packed, plump and squishy, durable pierogies, built to last. In my experience with store bought frozen pierogies, courtesy of Mrs. T or whatever her name is, once bitten, the pierogie has a tendency to become hard to manage. Potato spills out the side, the whole thing is kind of flimsy so its flopping all around on the end of the fork. Not these. With each bite the pierogies stayed firm and in tact, which helped me a lot, as I ate them while driving a moving truck down a narrow street back to work. And they were served with a side of sour cream, something that I didn’t know I liked so much until this year. Great stuff! I used all of it, don’t think I could eat pierogies without it again.
Driving by Syrenka again yesterday, I peeked in to see if I had been there at an off hours time, which I apparently had, because I noticed at least two occupied tables. I plan on going back soon.

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