When Paris Bistro moved to its new home on Park Avenue last year, it left behind its old space on Aloma Avenue. The new digs are so much more attractive than the Aloma restaurant, which was oddly situated in a two-story building that was otherwise occupied by professional businesses. Not that a restaurant isn’t a professional business, but you know what I mean.
Now another restaurant has take up the Aloma Avenue spot, and somehow it seems homier and, frankly, more charming than it ever did as Paris Bistro.
The new restaurant is Anna’s, a small Polish cafe, and it offers another option to local lovers of pierogies, kielbasas and stuffed cabbages.
Actually, of the three things I just mentioned, only the stuffed cabbage is made on site. The pierogies are imported from Chicago, a town with a large Polish community that knows a thing or two about pierogies, and the kielbasa is, well, kielbasa. You can pretty much get that anywhere.
But all three were included on the Polish platter that some friends and I enjoyed during a lunch visit. The platter also included some Polish sauerkraut and a thick mushroom gravy. Even though they were made in the Midwest, the pierogies were delicious. We had one of each type offered: potato and cheese; meat; and sauerkraut and mushroom (the best one). The cabbage was stuffed with a mixture of rice, pork and beef, all densely packed into a roll. This was one winning platter.
The freshly made finger dumplings that came on my plate of beef goulash were wonderfully light and delicate. But the goulash
itself, while chockfull of pieces of tender beef, wanted more spicing. I had requested a side dish of the potato pancakes, which were remarkable for how much they looked like pancake pancakes. Like you wanted to pour some syrup over them. But instead I slathered on some sour cream and applesauce and was quite satisfied.
Anna’s offers two types of borscht, the more familiar red beet variety and a more obscure white borscht, which contains no beets at all. Instead, it’s made with a fermented rye flour as a base for its roux, which creates a richly flavored broth that looks sort of like a New England clam chowder. It had little cubes of smoky sausage and half a hard-boiled egg. It was the hit of the table. The red beet borscht was also delicious, with a hearty flavor and lots of beets in the broth.
Service was provided by an affable young man, assisted by Anna herself who stopped by the table to answer questions.
The space is still very small — that’s never going to change — but it somehow seemed to have more style. Maybe it’s the slatelike tile on the wall that hides the restrooms, or the wood blinds and draperies that adorn the windows or the faux-lace tablecloths. Something about it gave an air of quaintness that I liked.
Anna’s Polish Restaurant is at 3586 Aloma Ave., Winter Park. It’s open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-657-0020. Here’s a link to the Anna’s Polish Restaurant Web site.