Warszawa Polish Cuisine
1414 Lincoln Boulevard (just south of Santa Monica Boulevard)
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Eastern Europe makes me think of certain things. Lots and lots of horrible, greasy, fattening sausages. Potato pancakes drowning in butter and sour cream. Cabbages and beets. Babushkas, beer, and polka-playing accordions. Is that horrible of me or what? I can’t help it. I am ignorant.
So the first time a friend mentioned Warszawa for a Friday night, I didn’t have to pause before engaging in extreme resistant whine-ry. It’s a Polish restaurant. Polish hardly registers on the hipster scale, if at all. If we were going to eat dinner, I’d have thought it a learning experience – a geo-culinary lesson of central, eastern-ish Europe to continue with what began a few months ago with Austria at Schatzi on Main. But we were going to hang out? In the bar? Of a Polish restaurant?!?! No way. I’d rather watch Carmen Electra’s Strip Tease Aerobics for fun.
Pout pout pout, but finally, I gave in, and amazingly, Warszawa was good, hearty, Polish fun!
That’s not entirely true. We had a rocking good time in the bar, but there was absolutely nothing Polish about it. Whether that’s a good, *phew* relief, thing, or an *aww* too bad we’re missing out on polka thing, I’m not sure, but when school-friends decided to have their engagement party there, and a girlfriend threw her 30th birthday party there, I was all for it. Sarah + 10 Delicious friends on the guest list, please!
Though the neon red sign is very visible from Lincoln, the restaurant is accessible via a small alleyway on the side of the building. Clearly, Warszawa first opened a long time ago when land was cheap(er) in Santa Monica because they have their own parking lot. A long time ago. Walking through the alley to get to the back patio bar, I caught glimpses through the main entrance of white tablecloths, candlelight, and a nicely-dressed, mild-mannered dining crowd. No accordions anywhere. The dining room looks nice, and one of these days, when the scent of citron and soda doesn’t lure me back to the bar, I will make it inside for perfect pierogis, pâté, and fancy-schmancy borscht.
So I actually never made it to the engagement party, because, well, engagement. *ew* But we made it out for the Disco Fever birthday party (June birthdays rule!), and though our party group over took quite a bit of the decent-sized patio, there were many regular people there who were probably wondering why the hell the cast of That Seventies Show was out in full force at Warszawa! For our party, Warszawa put out some bread and butter, an olive spread, and lovely tray of very seventies, very Polish, shrimp and cream cheese canapes.
Friendly, non-Polish bartenders (see? nothing Polish, not even the bartenders) make the drinks very strong. Just a few citron/sodas (and a few sips of beer in green bottles) and I was off doing the hustle on the dance floor, which is, essentially, any open space around the trees with little white Christmas lights, the heat lamps, and forest green plastic patio dining tables. There are also a few pink couches but I wouldn't go anywhere near them - someone else (not from our group) must have had one too many of those strong drinks and passed out on it. Warszawa let us bring in our own turntables for our choice of music, and DVDs to play on the huge white screen against the back wall – the birthday girl was showing some movie from the 1970s, but I wouldn’t know. I’m too *ahem* young to know. ;)
I asked the bartender if it’s always a pretty rockin’ good time on the back patio. He said yes, especially when they bust out the karaoke machine.
Uh oh, looks like The Delicious Life is going to make a play for the mic next time!