comfy noshing Polish-style at Euro Deli Batory

Euro Deli Batory is the kind of place that’s going to make this upcoming winter worthwhile.  What better way to bundle up against the winds than with steaming, groaning plates of sausage, potato, cream and spices in a place painted red and wooden?  Done completely authentically and sold for as cheap as any regular sandwich, this place is going to be my sweater, slightly more stylish than a reindeer-knit but only just slightly.  There is, after all, a giant woollen eagle decorating this place like a guardian of your Polish auntie’s rec room.  Amazing.

If you need Hunter’s stew, sausage, potato dumplings, pierogies, mustard, sour cream, Montreal-style coleslaw, salad and cabbage roll in tomato butter sauce all on a big plate (swirl that fork through the tangy sauces… SWIRL IT!  :D), than I recommend the Polish Plate (or, in our case, a generous 1/2 plate for 9.75-ish$).  Not the kind of thing I would recommend finishing alone unless you’re hungry, but then again, if you’re hungry it’s perfect.

On the side – a nice little light snack, and a new offering at the Deli – a bundle of the most tender spinach and cheese crepes ever in an awesome buttery sauce (8$).  Sproingy crepes and zingy fillings, totally a winner, and also with vegetables for health.  They also have versions with bacon and cheese, and sweet crepes with fruits and cheese for the same price, prolly also Mmmamazing.  (pronounced “Ma-mazing, ie; delish way of expressing astonishment, now you know).

I came back the next day (!!), with a newly empty stomach to try the Flaki – a traditional Polish soup, swimming thick with ethereal swathes of beef tripe (MMMM!) in a smooth and warming broth reminiscent of a healing chicken soup, but thicker and spiced heavily with nutmeg, paprika, marjoram and pepper.  Euro Deli’s version was a tad salty, but otherwise fantastic and especially with bits of buttered rye bread dipped into it.  Winter?  Fah!  We will win winter.  We will win winter with soup.  Rarr!  (4.75$, I think).

Oh and specifically favourited things tried so far?  The sausage is snappy, the cabbage is deep dark and moreish, the cabbage roll is addictive, and the slaw is some of my favourite straight-up coleslaw in the city.  The pierogies I found to be hit and miss (there are 3: Meat: a bit like rillettes; Potato/onion: not distinctive; Cheese; melty fatty goodness), and the potato dumplings are not as good as some gnocci I’ve had, but like, whatever, it’s all good and you know you want it, especially slathered with that Hunter’s stew.

I come to enjoy the top 40 hits.  I come to enjoy the hilarious service that has forgotten my coffee every single time and to hear the neighbourhood thrive (locals, hipsters, geezers and travellers convening to talk about politics and deli meats).  I basically still have the whole menu to eat through, though, and I haven’t even tried the sweets yet.  Polish cheesecaaaaaake!  Eeek.

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Basi Italian Bistro – stylish ungroundbreaking italian, but take a date there, seriously.

I wonder if there is shame in admitting that my exposure to Italian food is nearly nil?  I’m no pasta hound, “red sauce” to me just means sriracha, garlic is great but I have unfond memories of not being allowed to leave the table until my mountainous tangle of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio was finished – the horror!  Am I even kind of the person to start reviewing Italian food in a public setting (the interwebz!!).  Well, ,,,,,

Yes.

See, I at least know what food is when I taste it, and I still carry a torch for Michele Foglione’s ricotta gnocci.  I do understand the ravenous zeal that an exceptional olive oil can cause.  I may not crave cheese ever, but I adore it all the same.

Basi Bistro, I suppose, is not a bad place to condition myself to these things.  It’s actually quite lovely inside, like a diner made out to be an aquarium – a lilting airy quality and a youthful, laid back clientele (with a youthful laid back service staff to match).  And even if the food won’t be transporting anyone to sun-drenched villas anytime soon, well at least it’s reasonably priced and consistently tasty.

INSALATAAAAA!!! isn't that the best word ever?

A table d’hôte with pizza or pasta as a main runs 19.95$, with fish or meat it’s 29.95$, including an entrée and a dessert.  From the entrées we chose the Insalata Italiana (yes, sometimes I am boring and I want to eat salad.  It’s true!)  and the Vitello Tonnato – cold roast beef in a tuna sauce (not Vitello, but whatever the Italian word for roast beef is).  The salad was slick but refreshing, with a good tang, mostly romaine, enjoyable.  The vitello was lovely, a kind of a ladylike way to start a meal, wait, does that make sense?  There’s something about cutting dainty leaves of beef from a pale sauced plate that makes me think of white gloves.  Okay, but now on topic.

The bread was great!  Foccacia, warmsoft bricks topped with excellent tomatoes (san marzanos?) and served with a flavourful oil + pepper combo.  Oh, and then mains came.

I was mad happy with mine.  The smell was awwwesome.  And if it wasn’t like the most tender piece of lobster in the world, I was still picking the sweet pieces from the buttery rosé sauced shells to the last drop.  Just enough quality mozzarella to goo it up nicely, and the vegetables alongside were simple but cooked well – snappy juicy asparagus and a surprisingly smooth and herbal potato purée, however much it looked like a kindergarden playdoh project splooged along the side of the plate like that.  Hehe.

The Spaghettini Calabrese didn’t fare so well.  Pasta dishes can sometimes suffer from the “jumble of noodles + ingredients = not necessarily cohesion” syndrome, and this would be a poster child for that.  The sausages could have been browned more, the rapini was a bit bitter, the roasted peppers were good, probably done in house, and the sauce was nonexistent beyond olive oil, salt and pepper.  Oh, and the pre-ground parmesan that the parmesan boy dumped sheepishly onto the stuff. (*facepalm*).  But yeah, not bad just not great.  At least the spaghettini was still structurally al dente.  Phew.

Never’s anything lost when there’s dessert to wait for, however.  The lemon cake was a standout – surprisingly lemony, extremely moist genoise layered with whipped mascarpone and a generous size, served with little micro-watermelons and a freaking lemon-shaped gummy candy!  See, we love candy.  That could not be better. !

The hazelnut panna cotta was also well done.  Simple, but smooth and very cold, slicked with a layer of dark chocolate sauce and tasting of quality ice cream with a whiff of frangelico.  It paired nicely with the (pretty average) espressos, served with a shot glass of hand-whipped cream that was topped with a coffee bean – nice touch.

My heart wasn’t stolen away, nor my face melted off, and maybe red sauce never coursed through my veins, but I had a good time, a really good time at Basi.  Maybe there’s hope for me yet. ;)

Dinner for two, plus two glasses of wine and two espressos – 81$ before tip.

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