Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, so here goes: when a friend recommended Warszawa and its Polish food, I put him off. To me, Polish cooking meant the heavy meals at the Chicago apartments of friends of my parents.
Now I know better, because I finally acted on my friendís advice. The food at Warszawa certainly isnít cuisine minceur, but it is remarkable on its own terms.
Warszawa occupies the ground floor of an old Santa Monica wood house dating to the early days of the 20th Century. The dining rooms are small and comfortable, the service warm and accommodating.
But it is the food that inspires: a kielbasa starter, or signature borscht. Certainly you will want an order of pierogi on the table, probably the classic cheese and potato. When it comes to main courses, the veal paprika is wonderfully flavorful; so is the stroganoff. But I always order the duck. Crisp skin, with a perfect blend of seasoning, moist and tender meat inside.
Desserts are first-rate Ė the poached pear is a lovely way to end such a savory meal. Oh, and of course slivovitz (sliwowica) can accompany the pear.
Thereís a modest wine list of perfectly drinkable bottles, beers, and a courtyard in the rear (weather permitting) where there often is music on weekends. You can usually find street parking on Santa Monica Boulevard north of the restaurant.
Donít make my mistake about Polish cooking Ė Warszawa serves wonderful food.