For the last decade I've been all about world domination, wanting to sample as many different cultures as humanely possible. Part of my global takeover has led to a real interest in food from foreign parts; a result of one of our many trips, has been a love of Polish cuisine. Since visiting Krakow some years back, I'm all about Polish food and have recently been trying a variety of Polish restaurants in West Yorkshire's “City Of Dreams”, Bradford.
My first stop was Balanga on Goodwin Street that began as a real leap of faith and has since remained interesting due to its restrictive time restraints and exceedingly cheap highly authentic menu. Although grotty from the outside, Balanga has a genuine feel with billboards in the toilets covered in Polish adverts, multi-lingual menus and bar staff rather endearingly actively warning clientele they only serve Polish food.
Several Balanga food babies later, it was time for a change – if only to locate somewhere that serves food after 7pm! Idly wandering the streets of Bradford through a previously undiscovered gay quarter with ex-Bradders colleagues, we stumbled across Ambrozja on Sunbridge Road. At 7.30pm on a Friday night, Ambrozja was deserted but boasted low prices and food worth revisiting.
My final Polish discovery was Staropolska Restaurant on Manningham Lane. Only recently opened, outside looked inviting but inside was immediately off-putting with staff telling us on arrival there'd be a party later, implying we might not want to stay. The entire menu was in Polish with no translations, making ordering an interesting experience. Pointing to several dishes on the menu we were told no translation was possible or given dubious explanations that seemed to solely entail staff members pointing to the stomach region. Even the drinks were inaccessible or unrecognisable with a whole listed section being unavailable and Western drinks like “Bulmers” being listed as “Blumbers”.
Amazing food and reasonable prices aside, dining in Staropolska was reminiscent of eating in a foreign country. Even our apres-food walk around Hanover Square felt like we were no longer in the UK with the current extreme heat and entire families wearing tunics and trousers while playing cricket in a central shared garden area.
Bradford may not be the city of dreams but it sure is a place of extreme cultures with entirely Polish speaking enclaves right next to Indian/Pakistani communities, making such culinary adventures possible a mere twenty minute train journey from home. Never in my life have I felt so far from home, despite being so close to it.