Review: The Karczma, a kitschy Polish gem in Birmingham, UK

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There are few things I love more than “kitsch.” I grew up going to presidential libraries in the United States, scouring vintage shops to add to my growing collection of antique vintage election pins, and falling in love with local town brass band concerts in rural New England. I love old-timey American diners and Norman Rockwell-style schmaltz. Last week, Jon and I were flying through Birmingham on our way to a ski vacation in the Alps, and decided to plan a date night out on the town before flying out. I found a review in the Guardian for the kitschiest sounding restaurant in the city and decided we absolutely had to go check it out!

The restaurant is called the Karczma, and is a traditional Polish place, located next door to a bleak concrete Polish cultural center. The interior of the restaurant consists of a fake thatched roof, sheepskin chairs, nostalgic murals of Polish farmers, and a TV permanently set to a Polish news channel. But if that’s not enough of a draw, the food is PHENOMENAL.

Jon and I started out our dinner with some vodka – his was flavored with grass, and mine had a delicious subtle honey aftertaste. We decided to splurge on some starters – I had a wonderful pickled whitefish dish with diced onion. Jon had (AVERT YOUR EYES DEAR VEGETARIAN READERS!!) fried sheep cheese wrapped in fried bacon. Needless to say, he loved it.

For mains, I had a fried trout, with just the perfect balance of crisp skin and smooth silky interior. The sides included a generous heaping of mashed potatoes with a slight flavor of vinegar, and a side of sauerkraut. Jon had a portion of meat and wheat – some hearty pierogis.

The only downside is that there did not seem to be very many options on the menu for strict gluten-free vegetarians, but if you love fish, you’ll find Karczma heavenly. Check out the menu here: http://www.thekarczma.co.uk/. It’s pretty reasonably priced as well. Our meal came out to somewhere around 30 pounds for the two of us.

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“More vodka, please!”

Polish, restaurant reviews, England

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