Day: August 11th, 2007

When in Rom(ania)…

Saturday, August 11th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Friends

When our friend BL sent out an Evite for a “Romanian hookup,” offering his services as our guide to an authentic Romanian dinner this weekend, how could we refuse?

The venue: Romanian Garden in Sunnyside. We hopped the 7 to a familiar stop, and walked two blocks to historic Skillman Avenue.

Sunnyside Arch

Outside the restaurant, our group of 11 had to wait about 15 minutes for a table this Saturday night, during which S and I entertained CS with the “dirty stories” from our trip through the rural South. Once inside, the garden theme was made apparent by the abundance of artificial greenery: trees, floral vines and trellises, an overall effect mitigated somewhat by the rowdy atmosphere surrounding the television’s blaring broadcast of the day’s soccer highlights.

Under BL’s direction, we started off with a fantastic array of appetizers: a very good smoky eggplant spread (similar to a baba ganoush). A cold beef salad. Stewed cabbage. Chiftelute (meatballs). Lots of pickles — I especially liked the green tomatoes. A warm plate of mamaliga cu brinza si smintina (polenta): a calorie-laden dish of soft, grainy yellow maize, topped with salty grated feta and twin dollops of thick sour cream…

Romanian polenta

…and the carnaciori oltenesti – cute fried sausages reminiscent of a set of jacks, which I can best describe, by looks and taste, as Romanian hot dogs:

Romanian hot dogs

As expected, the main course options were similarly meat-heavy and ultra-rich. To cut through all the fatty food: very reasonably priced bottles of pinot noir and a round of icy Ursus pilsners — “Regele berii în România” (“The King of Beers in Romania”) which I suppose makes it the Romanian Bud.

Around the table there were platters of roast chicken, pork in various forms, mititei (or mici: plump, skinless ground beef sausages), and uh… who ordered Romanian steak?

Romanian steak

Actually, I ordered the Romanian “stew” (not “steak”) – which is what I finally got after a bit of reiteration. (Oops.)

The dish was hearty and extraordinarily filling with chunks of tender, smoky meat, plated over heaping scoops of the polenta, one topped with feta, the other with a soft egg. I ended up taking half of my plate home; like most stews, it was even better the following day.

Romanian stew

Is there always room for dessert? Apparently so: on a tip from our friendly server, BL secured the last several slices of fresh Napoleon pastry, which despite its not-exactly-Romanian origins, was divine.

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