In Pole position for lunch –  Pierogi, Cardiff Market

For a while I have mourned the closure of Donnelly’s, with its bargain lunch time  offering of faggots and peas (and chips if you were feeling flush – sad that so many in that “Feed your face for a fiver” post have gone) and have been curious as to who would set up shop in what to me is quite a prime spot on the mezzaine level of the increasingly interesting (food wise) Cardiff indoor market.

I had spied a while back a sign suggesting the unit in question was being re-purposed as a purveyor of pierogi and waited and waited for it to open (pesky Covid getting in the way it seems).

I then sort of forgot about it until Tokyo Nights opened up in the market, with me expressing the view that they could use this bigger unit for yakatori as no one seemed to be using it despite the Pierogi signage. On cue Pierogi rolled up the shutters and started trading – finger on the pulse me!

It all looked very industrious, as I ambled over during my lunch break, with people beavering away chopping onions, shaping fillings and crimping multiple pierogi.

Certainly an interesting selection on the menu, with pierogi being a rather adaptable staple of Eastern Europe, where they come in many guises and under multiple names:

  • Poland – Pierogi
  • Ukraine – Varenyky
  • Hungary – Derelye
  • Slovakia –  Bryndzové pirohy
  • Romania – Colțunași

to name but a few.

The common theme of all of these seems to be an unleavened dough wrapped around a savoury or sometimes sweet filling, which is then cooked in boiling water

The menu offered a nice mix of meat and veggies, with the preponderance of non meat items used perhaps indicative of the dishes rather humble peasant roots.

New prices already (see below).

I was intent on the minced duck number, but also intrigued by the buckwheat groats (something I have not come across before). More on the latter later, but first to my order of the minced duck number.

A very generous portion of seven rather plump pierogi arrived promptly (I think I may have inadvertently hijacked an earlier order 😬 – they have since put in place a numbered ordering system to counter pierogi pirates such as myself) and they certainly smelt rather nice.

Sweet caramelised white onions adorned the pierogi, with chives adding a sharper allium hit,

which had a very generous and tasty meat filling and a light, thin shell.

The plum(p) sauce was great for dunking the periogi in, with an interesting sweet yet tangy flavour to it.

Can’t say it looked that appetizing, but it was actually rather moreish. 

The only slight oddity was the garnish, which seemed to be a rather large bit of raw curly kale.

I often rile against unnecessary garnishes and this may well be the daddy of all unnecessary garnishes being completely inedible. No idea what it was doing there to be honest.

As I had expressed (on ordering) curiousity in terms of the buckwheat groats (sounds like a medieval currency to me), they very kindly gave me one to try (gratis).

Really enjoyed this veggie number,

with the buckwheat groats and mushrooms giving it a really nice earthy flavour.

The forest mushroom sauce it came with was an absolute flavour bomb, seemingly infused with pure essence of mushroom.

Could have happily drunk a vat of this!

A second visit (a week later) brought a quite quick price rise and the seeming loss of the spinach option (sold out?).

As I had already tried the duck (price up) and the buckwheat groat (oddly, but rather welcome, price unchanged) options, I decided to bring bacon into play and ordered the white cottage (cheese) and potato filled pierogi (up from £7.40 on my first visit to £7.90). The added benefit of these was onions and/or bacon.

To me the “/or” was entirely superfluous and akin to being asked if I would be happy to have my salary supplemented with the addition of a few 1kg gold bars (God not sure, may have to think about that and get back to you). Few things in life these days are certain but they include taxes, death, me annoying Mrs. SF and me saying yes when offered bacon.

Again a very big portion (and an even bigger kale garnish 🤷‍♂️), with bountiful amounts of bacon and onion. This place can never be accused of skimping!

I really liked the cheese and potato filling in these

which was lovely and smooth, well seasoned, with loads of cheese.

Despite the dough and potato carb. heavy nature of this option, these pierogi were surprisingly light.

Probably my favourite out of the three I tried.

The drink

Drinks wise the offering is limited, but not too pricey.

I had a pepsi which was sweet and wet and that is all you can really say about Pepsi. As I sipped it I mused how nice it would be to pair these pierogi with a Polish beer or a glass of wine.

Wine wise, with the duck and buckwheat pierogi I think a pinot noir would be lovely. With the other ( bacon, cheese and potato) numbers, on the menu, a dry furmint or a riesling would hit the spot nicely.

Have to say Polish wines seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds so maybe a pinot or a riesling from there would be an ideal pairing.

The verdict

Really enjoyed the pierogi at this place, with all three types I tried being very tasty and filling.

I see that a sweet pierogi has been added to the roster, with a chocolate dough filled with white chocolate and strawberries and a vanilla sauce on the side Not for me I think (bonus of no kale though, I assume and sincerely hope), but I am sure there will be many takers from those with more of a sweet tooth than I have.

Portion sizes are (typically Eastern European) very generous with my 7 duck pierogi (now £8.40) and 7 cheese and potato pierogi (now £7.90). This, despite the price increase, is decent value in my opinion.

I am going to start to sound like a broken record here, but I would quite like to see a smaller portion size offering –  say 4 –  for a fiver or even sell them individually (£1.30 a pierogi, with a discount to the on the board price currently if buy 7). I think this point is reinforced by the rather rapid price increase (inflation is a fxcker).

This place will in any event become a lunch time staple for me, but a £5 price point with perhaps the ability to buy them individually would encourage me to visit even more. Please also consider losing the kale garnish, which just seems to me to be just a waste of good food (love cooked kale) as I am sure it just goes in the bin.

Would I go back? Absolutely. Cardiff Market really is on the up on the food front and this place adds nicely to the mix.

The markets lunch time offering pretty much covers the lunch time needs of all but the most fussy eater these days with pizza, Indian, Thai, vegan, greasy spoon, Japanese and the list goes on.

To that list Pierogi is a fine addition – shame Franks have left (last day was 26th March) though, as I shall rather miss getting mustard in my mustache!

The details

Address: Units 213, 215 and 217, Top floor, Cardiff Market.

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