Down the road from the gun mart, in the light-industrial back-blocks of Midland, stands an unassuming brick shed. I imagine it looks like many buildings in the Eastern Bloc - from the pre-Glasnost era. Somewhat fittingly, perhaps, this is the home of one of Perth's two Polish clubs. Named for one of Poland's great 20th century leaders, the building's giant red letters, flags and white eagle symbol leave you in no doubt about its heritage. Inside is a cavernous - and tastefully redecorated - dancing hall, bistro kitchen and pool table-lined bar and dining area.
Husband-and-wife team Alex and Mirka Zacharek last year took on the challenge of reviving the kitchen for Friday night and Sunday lunches. Theirs is a traditional, generous and homely menu. Think lots of dill, potatoes, beets and hearty serves of meat. Yet, there is a subtly to the dishes too.
Many Australians won't have eaten a properly cooked pierogi (dumpling). Most shop-bought versions are made with filo or puff pastry, not traditional egg dough. With good reason: they are messy and take a lot of effort to make. Filled with either mushroom, tangy cheese or spiced beef, Mirka's versions ($14) are more like a sleek Japanese gyoza: at once crunchy from frying, but with a just-right chewiness. The effort that goes into making pierogi in a small kitchen also explains why diners have to be prepared for some dishes to run out.
Other Polish staples on the night included a finely-crumbed chicken schnitzel ($20) with a sweet orange-flecked side of wilted red cabbage and boiled potatoes. And a huge pull-apart pork hock with similar accoutrements ($25) that would have fed a team of lumberjacks in the middle of winter.
A dessert of traditional Yo-Yo cake was ridiculous value at $4.50: a slab of fluffy, cheesecake-like centre was cradled by a soft gingerbread base, with raspberry coulis.
Ever since Rembrandt's restaurant in Inglewood closed its doors, it's been hard to find good Polish in Perth - for those not in the know. Not any more.
It's not a fine diner but has drinks at club prices, wonderful hospitality, and a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Plus you can play free pool after dinner. When was the last time you could say that in Perth?
General Sikorski Polish Club
Address 7 Bellevue Road, Bellevue
Phone 9274 2858 (You'll probably be asked to leave a message)
Open Friday, 6.30-9pm and Sunday, 1-5pm
The buzz Sincere, warm, hospitality. Pool tables and bar just an arm's length from diners makes for a unique - and memorable - night.