Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Syracuse Dining: Eva's European Sweets

Eva’s European Sweets has been on my radar for quite some time. The quaint Polish restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri and has rave online reviews. Even more convincing, Jake’s dad, who was born and raised in Poland, loved the dishes when he visited Eva’s.

Before dinner I realized that I never actually had Polish food before. Sure, I’ve had potato pierogies, but I’ve never ventured into trying real authentic dishes. The revelation was shocking to me because I studied abroad in Germany, Poland’s next-door-neighbor. I’m also a teeny-tiny part Polish. Being the adventurous eater I am, I was determined to try something traditional.
Eva’s European Sweets is a cute little place in a neighborhood setting. A welcoming but faded mural was painted on the side of the cottage-like building. The inside was small, with a bar and a few different dining areas. The decorations fit the Polish theme ­– porcelain dolls lined a shelf over the bar, and maps/pictures of Poland filled the walls. Jake and I had a short ten-minute wait and were seated near the bar.

Eva's actually had a great collection of Polish beer. I settled for water, but Jake (who is 50% Polish) tried a Żywiec, one of the most popular beers in Poland. The beer was light and went down easily – Jake and I both liked it a lot!
Everything on the menu looked delicious. We were originally set on ordering ground beef pierogies to split as an appetizer, but Eva’s was out of stock. Potato pierogies tempted us as well, but we decided to see how full we got with dinner (which, as it turns out, was very, very full!) When he was at Eva's, Jake's dad ordered the Gołąbki (pronounced goh-WUMP-kee)This time, Jake ordered the same. Gołąbki is a mixture of ground beef and rice stuffed into cabbage leaves and topped with tomato sauce. I didn't know what to expect with this dish, but it was different than I imagined. I thought the cabbage leaves would be small, like the size of spring rolls, but they were actually as big as my hand and stuffed pretty generously. The ground beef and rice mixture reminded me of Mexican food. Customers are given a choice of three or five Gołąbki. Jake got three for $10.25 and could barely eat half – these things were filling! Overall, I really liked the dish and would order it again.
However, the gołąbki didn't compare to my amazing dish. After much deliberation, I settled on the Placki Hungarian Style. My choice is kind of ironic, since I was set on ordering a traditional Polish dish and my choice was clearly labeled "Hungarian." However, Placki (pronounced PLAHT-ski) itself has Polish roots, and the Placki Hungarian style seemed to be the most popular item on the menu. Guy Fieri also ordered the meal for Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. If Guy ordered the Placki, it had to be good, right?
The main piece of any placki dish is potato pancakes. Since I got the meal Hungarian style, the pancakes were topped with a tomato-y sauce that included ground beef, peppers, and onions. A dollop of sour cream was on top. I was a bit hesitant to try the weird combination, but all I can say is WOW! Every bit of the Placki Hungarian Style was amazing  – I can totally see why it's Eva's most popular dish. The potato pancakes tasted like hash browns with thin and crispy edges. The ground beef tomato sauce was slightly spicy and tasted to me like Mexican food, similar to the Gołąbki. The sour cream was perfect with the potato pancake and sauce. I could eat this dish every day for a week. The meal comes with four potato pancakes and costs $11.70. 

As much as we wanted pierogies after our meal, we had no room left in our stomachs!
Final verdict: Eva's European Sweets was good. Very good. I'm definitely going back before school ends this year. If you're in the Syracuse neighborhood and crave Polish food, stop by Eva's and order the Placki Hungarian Style. I also heard the pierogies are amazing, so I would recommend those based on suggestion. The European-style desserts also looked incredible – too bad I don't have much of a sweet tooth!

Also, sorry for the grainy pictures – the restaurant was pretty dark with bad lighting for pictures!