Monday, February 7, 2011

Sokolowski's University Inn in Tremont

This guest post comes to us from the wonderful writer of Why Cleveland?   CLEgal, as she is known to the blogging world, writes a blog that has two major focuses:  All of the great things about the Cleveland, and how we can make Cleveland even better!  I love her perspective on Cleveland, and I share her passion for wanting to put Cleveland on the map as a place all people should visit!  If you haven't checked out her blog you should!  Here is her review of Sokolowski's University Inn in Tremont, a true Cleveland staple!
When Brad put out a call for guest posts reviewing restaurants or beers, I knew exactly where I wanted to go.  There are certain restaurants that just exemplify Cleveland. Sokolowski's University Inn is one of those restaurants.  Located in Tremont before it was trendy to be located in Tremont, Sokolowksi's serves up hearty, homemade, traditional Polish cooking in a friendly atmosphere.  For more on the history and culture at Sokolowski's, check out my blog.

Everything at Sokolowski's is traditional and homemade with love.  You walk in to a cafeteria line that starts you off with desserts, then takes you to the hearty Polish entrees.  I couldn't pass up the pierogi dinner, which comes with two sides.  To complete the carb trifecta, I selected cabbage and noodles and a potato pancake as my side dishes.  All the dinners at Sokolowski's also include their unlimited salad bar and a dinner roll (more carbs!).

I'm a traditional Polish and Czech girl and I am picky about my pierogies.  My auto correct on my phone already knows the word pierogi.  So, when I say that Sokolowski's pierogies are some of the best I've ever had, trust me.  The dough is firm, but not rubbery.  The pierogies are generously filled with lightly whipped potatoes and then smothered in butter and sauteed onions.  The cabbage and noodles were also excellent.  Sokolowski's has the perfect ratio of cabbage to noodles (plenty of cabbage) and they add bacon to the mix, which adds a nice flavor.  The potato pancake was suberb - not over-cooked, but still crispy.  My only complaint is that by the end of the meal, my potato pancake had absorbed most of the butter from my pierogies.
CLEguy ordered the wienerschnitzel, with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans as his side dishes.  The wienerschnitzel was lightly breaded and well-seasoned.  The breading remained crispy, even though it had not just come out of the fryer.  The gravy was more au jus-like than creamy, which was a nice compliment to the veal.  The green beans had a slight crunch, which was also quite yummy.
For dessert, I had the blueberry pie and CLEguy had the key lime cheesecake.  The pie filling was not overly sweet and had massive amounts of whole blueberries.  The crust could have been a bit lighter (maybe less egg wash on top), but overall very tasty.  The key lime cheesecake was CLEguy's favorite part of the meal.  It was more tart than most key lime desserts, which gave a nice balance between sweet and tart.  Also, the cheesecake was surprisingly light, which was a nice end to a very heavy meal.

For serving up traditional food with care and quality, Sokolowski's gets a 5/5.  Fair warning, come hungry and don't plan on eating for a day or so afterward!

Sokolowski's boasts a surprisingly diverse beer and wine menu.  Since I can't resist a Belgian beer, I selected the Ommegang Abbey Ale, a Belgian Dubbel.  The label describes the beer as rich, fruity, aromatic, and burgundian.  Aside from not being sure burgundian is a word, the rest is an apt description.  CLEguy chose the Bakalar Dark Lager, a Czech beer.  Bakalar is sweet and not overly hoppy, with mild caramel notes.  CLEguy much preferred his beer to mine.  I still stand by my Belgians. 

While it is somewhat difficult to know all your drink options while going through the cafeteria line, Sokolowski's does offer a great variety of interesting brews.  4/5.

Atmosphere and Service
The atmosphere reminds me of eating in my great grandmother's home.  There are pictures all over the walls, lamps on each table, and various rooms filled with memorabilia, a roaring fireplace, and a piano.  The service on the cafeteria line is friendly, although a bit rushed considering how many choices are available.  4.5/5.

Sokolowki's is a Cleveland institution and serves up wonderful food in a homey atmosphere. It's not fancy or fusion (and I love both of those), it's just plain good.  5/5.

Sokolowski's University Inn on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

Great post CLEgal! Surprisingly, Sokolowski's is still on my "Have to eat here" list although I did have their pierogies at Taste of Tremont

Alicia at Poise in Parma said...

A great guest post! I've eaten Sokolowki's plenty of times at Taste of Tremont, but have never been to the restaurant itself. I'm with ya on the pickiness of your pierogies - and theirs are SOLID!

Alana said...

As a lifelong Clevelander, I am embarrassed to say I have never been here!

Sarah Berridge said...

The only thing about Sokolowski's is that they are super busy. Be prepared to wait in a long line that winds through the dining room. You'll have plenty of time to get to know the other people standing in line with you. Once you get to the food, pray for a table to open up (or even just a few seats to share a table with some strangers).
Once you sit down, the food is great and I thought the piano player was really neat. Where else do you see a piano guy in a restaurant these days?!

Unknown said...

Also embarrassed to say I haven't been here, but now that I'm back in CLE after years away, this is a Must Do. And this Parma native looks forward to putting the pierogis to the test. I can appreciate a review by anyone whose cell phone recognizes the word, by the way!

Tom said...

As a person raised on Hungarian food, I have to chime in and say that this restaurant is truly the real thing. No fine furnishings and snobby staff. They dish out great food in LARGE portions of authentic Eastern European grub. It is a taste of old Cleveland and a place everyone needs to visit at least. Oh, and their chicken paprikas and stiffed cabbage are good and as authentic as can be!

Monica S said...

We visited Sokolowski's for the first time today. We were impressed with the food and portion size received. However I noticed the owner (I think) yelling at employees in front of customers. Highly unprofessional! When I went to ask a question about my bill at the end of our meal (after it had already been paid for, I wasn't trying to get out of anything) I was yelled at and belittled in front of an entire line of customers. When I asked him not to be so rude I was again yelled at. I tried calling when we got home to voice my concerns. All I was looking for was an apology. Instead I was hung up on! TERRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!! I cannot stress this enough. We were considering taking my mom there with the entire family (12 or more of us in all) for her birthday. That's definitely NOT happening. In fact, we won't be returning anytime soon. The way you treat people DOES make a difference!

Brad said...

Monica, I'm so sorry to hear they treated you this way! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I hope they fix this problem because after reading about your experience I don't think I want to go back there!


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