Address: 1129 Baxter Road, Ottawa, ON
Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm (Sun – M), 10:00am – 7:00pm (Tu – Fri), 10:00am – 6:00pm (Sat)
You know what they say – when life gives you lemons, go buy perogies. Wait…that’s not how the saying goes, but when my wife and I were in the west end and looking for food after an Ikea visit, this is what happened to us. I had been targeting the Polish deli in a strip mall behind the much-beloved, Swedish homeware company, but they don’t actually sell prepared food. If you want cold cuts or dry goods from Eastern Europe, they have you covered. Sandwiches? No dice.
Luckily, there’s a few different food spots in the same strip mall. I wasn’t interested in Milano’s, a generic Chinese take-our joint, or the neighbourhood bar, but a kitschy sign reached out to my hunger – “Homemade Perogies”. Well, technically it said “PEROGIES – HOME MADE”, which only upped the kitsch appeal since it raises the question of “Is this the business name or an advertisement?”. Turns out that it’s both.
The shop’s interior is quite utilitarian – there’s a display cooler, a warming counter behind some glass, and some other trunk coolers and freezers with perogies and their accoutrements to take home and cook yourself. Other than the quirky cartoons on the side of the freezers, and some Ukrainian Easter eggs and figurines on a shelf, it’s pretty stark.
We were here for a hot meal though, and looked over their menu. The options are pretty straight forward – a few options for perogies, cabbage rolls and meatballs, which you can add a beet salad to for two dollars more.
I opted for the Taste of Ukraine ($12.99), which comes with six perogies, a cabbage roll, beet salad, and sour cream. My wife went for the Meatball Lovers ($9.99), which is the same as the previous plate, but swaps out the cabbage roll for a meatball, and we got the version without the additional salad. They had three varieties of perogies that day – plain potato, cheddar, and bacon and mushroom – so I got a mix of each.
A weather-worn picnic table a few units down, so we hunkered down there and dug in. The beet salad wasn’t the now-clichéd version (with goat cheese and walnuts, you know the one) that you’ll find in contemporary, not-that-creative, restaurants. Rather, it was a mix of cabbage, cucumber and beets that were all cooked or pickled together as evidenced by the vibrant pink-ish purple of all the vegetables. It was bright in flavour and colour, and its mild tang provided a nice counterpoint to the other, richer components of our meal.
The cabbage roll was the vegetarian option with mushrooms, but mostly tasted of the tomato sauce it was in. The rice in the filling was firm and not at all soggy. Old country comfort food right here!
Our meatball was a decent size, and nicely browned. The pork was still quite juicy despite being reheated in a microwave, and was lightly herby.
Their namesake dumplings were small but tasty. My wife and I were flying blind with which perogie were which flavour, but the bits of caramelized onions that they were cooked in dominated their mild flavour anyway. The fillings were smooth and moist, and the wrappers were structurally sound but gave way easily with each bite.
I may not have ended up with the cold cuts that I had been expecting, but I was happy to have found in Ottawa Perogies a different Eastern European diamond in the rough.