I fantasized all day that I would walk into Babushka's for dinner and Michael Hoffman and lleechef would be waiting there to surprise me. That didn't work out quite the way I'd dreamed, but it was nice the chef remembered me from last year's visit.
I started out with a cup of dilled tomato bisque soup with dumplings. Tomato soup is one of the primary touchstones to my youth; a genuine comfort food that I take very seriously. Babushka's version was absolutely delicious, but the dumplings, although very tasty in and of themselves, were more of a distraction. I wanted uninterrupted tomato soup, and I ended up spooning around a dumpling obstacle course and missing some of that liquid red gold. In hindsight, I reckon I could have asked for the soup without the dumplings. That wouldn't be insulting would it? If someone said to me, "Your soup is so good on its own, I don't want to mess it up with any extraneous dumplings," I would take it as a compliment, wouldn't you?
I followed up the soup with, what I think is a Babushka's creation, "The Warsaw". It's a big ol' potato pancake with grilled onions, sliced pork loin, and sauerkraut piled on top, smothered in pork gravy, then topped with another big ol' potato pancake and a dollop of sour cream. Wow. What a thing of beauty! All those diverse flavors worked so well together. The sweet richness of the pork gravy and grilled onions were perfectly counterbalanced by the slight tang of the kraut. The pork loin was moist and tender, and the potato pancake was an ideal version with a nice crunchy exterior giving way to a moist and dense inside. Oh yeah, and there was sour cream too. This dish is a winner that I recommend without reservation.
After dinner, I had a nice conversation with Babushka's owner, his wife, and the chef. I'd told them about Roadfood when I visited last year, and they've been happily catching up on all their mentions ever since. They're genuinely touched that the Roadfood community thinks so highly of them.
They gave me a bunch of kolachky and this Napoleon-like pastry to take home, and a giant pierogi to go along with my breakfast leftovers. Naturally, I left some Barbecue Sauce with them.
Babushka's has become one of my Cleveland favorites. The only problem is, when you've got a limited amount of time in town, and a limited number of meals you can eat, how do you visit all of them every time you visit? We should all have such problems...
<message edited by BuddyRoadhouse on Sun, 05/20/12 1:08 AM>