Mama’s home cooking is Poles apart

Jenisa Thumbadoo tries Polish cuisine at award-winning Wood Green restaurant

Autograf

488 West Green Road, N15

020 8889 2999

UNLIKE the array of chic eatieres clamouring for your business in the neighbouring enclaves of Crouch End or Muswell Hill, dining in the Wood Green area is a hit or miss affair, consisting of fast food and pub grub with a few hidden gems serving authentic home-cooked fare worth making the trip for.

Autograf, a slice of Poland tucked away on West Green Road, comfortably occupies a spot in the latter category.

From the outset, the restaurant evokes the atmosphere of an American dive bar, with low lighting, leather booth-clad walls, a large screen playing Polish music and sports and a reasonably stocked brick bar at the back complete with red backlighting and a neon sign advertising the ubiquitous Polish beer Zywiec.

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My date and I arrive on a Friday night at around 7pm and the place is reassuringly packed. Judging from the chatter around us, Autograf attracts a predominantly Polish crowd, although during our visit a mix of regular locals and newbies curious about the Polish kitchen flow through the doors.

The delightful owner Agnes advised the mixed Pierogi platter to start with - Polish dumplings stuffed with meat, potato and cheese, chicken or cabbage and mushroom served drizzled in oil and fried onions. This was accompanied by the home made borsch (beetroot soup), its tangy, earthy sweetness perfectly complimenting the sinfully moreish Pierogies.

Being the gannets that we are, we also sampled the hot and sour soup, a delicious rye flour based potato dish served with smoked sausage and egg.

For mains, I chose the cabbage parcels stuffed with meat and rice and my date opted for the goulash served with potato pancakes and a mixed cabbage salad.

The portions are designed to appeal to the heartiest of appetites, and while the stuffed cabbage was a simple, underwhelming dish, the creamy goulash was a unique and flavoursome experience.

The potato pancakes were a particularly exciting discovery and we enjoyed them so much we ordered an additional plate on the side. To our surprise, despite the fact that they are offered on the menu with sugar, sour cream or sour cherry jam, these are more of savoury than sweet dish.

The dessert menu, for those that manage to make it that far, offers apple pie or cheesecake from a local Polish bakery. The apple pie was fresh and I would highly recommend it heated with ice cream. The cheesecake was light, lemony and almost crumbly, a delicious end to our meal.

Autograf also offers an intriguing array of Polish vodkas, which at �1.90 a shot are an absolute must - and taking lead from the clientele - a necessary addition to one’s meal.

We sampled the cherry and raspberry which were both fantastic, but the standout experience of the evening was the sweet, nutty shot of chilled hazelnut vodka which can only be described as a fusion of liquid honey and hazelnuts with a kick. Simply divine.

If you are searching for a cosy, comforting, very reasonably priced meal in relaxed surroundings, Autograf is a welcome addition to the local dining scene.

Judging from the queue at the door as we left, Agnes has mama’s home cooking down to a tee.

– JENISA THUMBADOO

Mains: from �4.90 to �6.90

Wines: from �2.70 a glass

Children welcome: Yes

Disabled access: Yes

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