UPDATE: Bobek Deli is now JW Real Polish Delicatessen, a modern update of its former self.
When I was checking out the array of trendy new restaurants popping up in and around Kensington earlier this year, I came across one unsuspecting little spot that is far from trendy but definitely shouldn’t be passed over by serious eaters.
Bobek Deli is the kind of place you would probably walk right on by if the assortment of Polish canned food in the front window didn’t grab your attention. But inside the narrow, angular space, behind rows of Polish tabloid magazines and Slavic-brand potato chips, there are some fantastic culinary creations worth exploring. First, There’s a butcher’s cold-case filled with about a dozen un-pronounceable offerings like zwyczajna (a smoked and cured pork kielbasa made with black pepper and garlic). Another case is stocked with fresh-baked pastries and fruit-filled bowls of Jell-o. But the real prize is the unsuspecting hot-food bar in the back, where a daily array of freshly-made to-go items offer rib-sticking Eastern European comfort food to dedicated regulars.
Depending on what day you go and how many people have beat you there, you’ll find entrees ranging from freshly roasted chicken and breaded schnitzel-like cutlets of chicken and fish, to stuffed cabbage, gargantuan chicken meatballs and more. Most recently I sampled the pork rumpsteak, a savory, softball-sized mound of meatloaf-like ground pork and herbs, seen below.
Each $7.99 portion comes in a hefty Styrofoam take-out container with potatoes (your choice of roasted potatoes or two scoops of perfect mashed, topped with a thick gravy), plus two salads: choose from a couple slaws, cucumbers in yogurt and dill, or a delicious shredded beet salad with pickled onions. These are some super-serious portions. I swear my sub-$10 lunch container weighted at least 10 pounds–one $7.99 container is more than enough for a lunch for two.
Of course, there are also pierogies, sold by the piece for 65 cents each (when was the last time you bought anything for 65 cents?!?). The tart, sauerkraut-and-mushroom-filled dumplings are the way to go. I found the plain cheese ones a bit chalky and dry–probably better if they were just-made and hot, but definitely not a match to Baba’s Pierogies, the current Brooklyn standard-bearer for boiled cheese-filled dough. The strawberry varieties, t00, are a nice after-lunch finish.
Bobek Deli is open for lunch and dinner to go; until 8pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends, but I’d recommend lunch as the earlier you arrive the more fresh options you’ll have to choose from.
321 Church Avenue (between E. 3rd and 4th); 718-972-3427; no website