The Rogue Valley hasn't seen such dedication to Eastern European specialties like kielbasa, pierogi and borscht since restaurants Samovar and Chata closed their doors years ago.
So it's good news that Julek's Polish Kitchen opened about three weeks ago in the strip mall near the intersection of South Highway 99 and West Valley View Road in Talent.
Owner Bogusia Antczak offers a clean, open space where she prepares her cuisine using produce from local farmers and prepared foods from area artisans. Sauerkraut comes from Ashland's Pickled Planet, and Taylor's Sausage in Cave Junction agreed to make sausage links from Antczak's family recipe.
Antczak' learned the restaurant trade at her aunt's establishment near the Baltic Sea in northern Poland. The name honors her father, and the menu reflects the food of Antczak's childhood.
That means goulash, patés, pierogi — dumplings stuffed with spinach and garlic, sauerkraut and mushrooms, potatoes and cheese or chicken — and various preparations of cabbage.
Antczak's dishes also are lighter than most Polish fare. Her borscht — or beet soup — also is chock-full of potatoes, carrots, celery and parsley brimming in lightly salted chicken broth. Look for a cup ($4) or a bowl ($7).
Equally light on the salt is Antczak's chicken paté, which she offers sliced on sourdough, wheat or light rye bread from SunStone Artisan Bakery in Ashland. These sandwiches are garnished with pickles and mustard ($7). Himalayan pink salt graces the tables for those with a taste for more seasoning.
Billed among the house salads is a half head of steamed cauliflower topped with melted butter and breadcrumbs ($7). This dish makes a delicious side, and it is large enough for two.
The menu is small to start out with but will grow according to patrons' requests. Look for lunch items that range from $6 to $8 and dinner entrees from $11 to $17. If you want pierogi, you'll have to plan on dinner. These delectable dumplings are not offered on the lunch menu.
The beverages include imported and domestic beers, including Polish labels, along with a list of regional wines that is heavy on vintages from RoxyAnn Winery.
There's also a caffeine-free Polish coffee made from roasted grains, chicory and sugar beets.
Julek's Polish Kitchen is at 160 N. Pacific Highway, Suite 4, in Talent. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. Call 541-897-4444.
— Laurie Heuston