Food & Drink: Mamuska Polish Kitchen and Bar, Waterloo SE1

Fancy food is ok once in a while, but in general, my preference is for dining out that feels like you’re dining in but without all the hard work. I’ve probably confused you.

I’m talking about home cooking. You can expect nothing less from new Polish restaurant Mamuska – or Mother, the name alone leaves me feeling comforted.

Unfamiliar with Polish cuisine, I arrived with friends for dinner one balmy Saturday evening, with few preconceptions of this Waterloo eatery.

One of our party, a visiting American, had requested we dine Polish style, prompting me to enquire as to the best place in town, and I was reliably informed that Mamuska, opened last autumn, had quickly made its mark.

Set in the old railway arches, underneath where the Eurostar used to depart, the location is fun and the atmosphere electric. Our host Bartek explained the concept of a milky bar – canteen-style.

You go up and pay for your food, take a number and collect it when your number is called.

Despite the Central London location, Mamuska offers up amazing value for money, and portion sizes that would defeat most people.

As my husband said: “There’s nothing subtle about the food; big, bold and hearty,” and that about sums up Mamuska.

Mamuska Polish Kitchen and Bar

I had the most fun it’s possible to have reading the newspaper-style menu, complete with quirky facts about Poland. For instance, did you know the founder of Marks & Spencer – Michal Marks – was Polish?

Our American friend was after Pierogi – dumplings filled with pork, beef, vegetarian and even a sweet version for dessert.

Having said that I came with few preconceptions, I hadn’t imagine there would be much going on here for vegetarians or vegans, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In fact, there’s a handy chart, clearly indicating the ingredients in each dish, ideal for those looking to avoid anything in particular. Dumplings of any description are always filling– so rather handy that you can order half portions.

The spinach and goat’s cheese dumplings were £4.80. Served boiled or fried, we went for the latter, preferring the crisper texture of a slightly crunchy outside, biting through into a creamy centre.

All main courses are served with a choice of potatoes and a salad. It’s a DIY salad bar, offering up all manner of pickled veg – and best of all it looks super fresh.

I selected finely shredded carrots, beetroot and pickled cabbage. Additional trips to the salad bar are £2. I decided to follow the crowd and order Mamuska’s best seller, Schabowy – pan fried breaded pork loin, served with a mushroom sauce (£11.80).

Where do I begin with this winner of a Polish dinner? Firstly, you’ll struggle to get this value for money on one plate in a centre-of-town location. When we go back, we’ll share this dish.

The juicy meat, dipped in the crispiest crumb, was vast, and several slices into eat, stopping to add a little sauce, did nothing to dent the size. In the end I had to admit defeat. Certainly at the heartier end of cuisines, I felt as if I’d dined at Mamma’s table.

There were a few stews ordered, but the dish that I most liked the look of was placki ziemniaczane (£9) – described as a potato pancake on the menu but looked like a rosti, hash brown, take your pick of international cuisines for a description.

Whatever you’d like to call it, it was just delightful – compact mound of grated potato – fried to a crisp on the outside and soft and juicy in the middle.

My brother-in-law had his with pork goulash, but I liked the fact that you could go vegetarian, served with either vegan stew or a white mushroom sauce.

As is traditional, we were presented with a tray of vodka, in a variety of fruit flavours, which my husband loved, but he’s made of sterner stuff than me.

It wasn’t to my liking, but what was was the vodka slushie – a longer drink that still packed quite a punch.

Paloma was not a guest of Mamuska.

9 Addington Street, London SE1 7RY
Tel: 020 3602 1898

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