What seemed like much longer than a month and a half later, it was time to reunite for another girls dinner. A had suggested Mamuska, a new place that opened in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. In amongst bargain shoe stores and dirty escalators, its location is not one you'd expect for a Time Out recommended restaurant. At night, it seemed all the more odd seeing as all of the surrounding shops were shut up, and beige floors were beginning to be cleaned. The shopping centre aesthetic fit very well with the Eastern bloc vibe of Mamuska - it is modeled on a Polish Milk Bar, open from 6am(!) to 12.30am.
All that seems to have been done to the 'unit' the restaurant occupies is a new floor, slick of paint on the brick walls, and a bunch of chairs and tables of various sizes. Artwork of debatable quality by (Polish?) artists adorn the walls, lending the look of a sort of community collective. With the menu half in Polish and half in English, and the feeling of being in a minority as an English speaker, it struck us as very authentic - but then one of their slogans is: 'Because you can't fly to Krakow every day'. They're clearly very into their zany slogans, as the friendly owner repeated this phrase when A told him her and I had both in fact been to Krakow, when we were ordering. The menu continually talks to you: 'See, you're reading Polish already!' or 'OK..it's not easy to translate..' With a perfectly concise list of dishes, it was easy to make choices. The categories are soups, dumplings, and classic Polish plates, and because they don't offer table service, the prices are seriously low (just like in Poland).
As before, A became worried at the prospect of more than one dish, and decided that a full plate of Pierogi with cabbage and smoked bacon would do her fine. B and I shared in order to try more, with some minced pork Pierogi and a big plate of 'Placki ziemniaczane' - potato pancakes with goulash. I think A's dumplings were more successful (lucky for her), with a more meaty texture and strong smokiness. Ours were unexpectedly less meaty in texture - I have tried for 5 minutes but I can't describe what it reminded me of. Soft Velcro? We chose to have them with sour cream, which was nice.
The potato pancakes I liked, and the stew was sweet and mushroomy. It was the kind of meal to have on a cold night, but we did find it equally enjoyable on this summer's evening. The pancakes were quite glutinous and gooey, that might not be to everyone's texture tastes but which certainly fit my weird ones. We were too full to try desserts but I would have liked to try the Polish cheesecake. Instead the gradually emptying out unit provided ample space for us to emulate Sex and the City style discussions about life (albeit in this Soviet landscape) fuelled by a couple of bottles of wine. The topics were grey, the shopping centre was grey, the food was grey (it's not just my camera). I loved it. Anyone?
Unit 233, 1st Floor
Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre