It was a few weeks before Christmas and Sokolowski’s sound system was rocking with familiar carols and holiday songs, but all with a polka beat. In addition to the usual welcome signs in Polish and countless pictures of the celebrities who have come to this landmark restaurant since it opened in 1923, effigies of Santa and his elves were everywhere. It’s pretty evident, though, that the good cheer emanating from the dining room is a year-around phenomenon, not just a Christmas time event.
What hungry person could not be happy walking along the cafeteria line of this hale tavern and gazing upon beautiful pans full of pierogi, kielbasa, sauerkraut, breaded lake fish, and stuffed cabbage? This hearty food is of high quality and dished out with good cheer in abundance. Pierogies are the most famous dish in the house and they are awesome: big, tender pockets filled with cheese and smothered in onions with which they are sizzled in butter until the onions turned caramel-soft and sweet. The kielbasa is as buff as a sausage can be, nearly too muscular for the flimsy cafeteria knife and fork provided, and it sure does pack a delicious smoky, piggy, spicy flavor. I loved the balance of Sokolowski’s halushka, which is a mix of salubrious sautéed cabbage and little squiggles of dumpling.
The meal for which I want to return is the Friday fish fry, which features beer-battered cod and Lake Erie perch. There’s live piano music Friday and Saturday night, which are the only evenings Sokolowski’s is open for supper.