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Eat Pierogi Make Love

  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Eat Pierogi Make Love.
    Photograph: Nicole Reed
  2. Cherry sour cocktail.
    Photograph: Lauren Dinse
  3. Herring on rye.
    Photograph: Lauren Dinse
  4. Pierogi dumplings with sour cream.
    Photograph: Lauren Dinse

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

You certainly will eat pierogi and feel all the love at this smash-hit new restaurant in Brunswick East, which describes itself as a love letter to Poland

Good, honest food. Sometimes, it’s the only thing you crave. Like the type of meal your grandmother prepared for you when you were a child. Or freshly rolled pierogi. Having already tasted the latter from the famous Melbourne market stall Pierogi Pierogi, this is exactly the type of experience I anticipated at a popular new Brunswick East restaurant that’s run by the same owners: soul-warming, humble and tasty. The couple at the helm, Guy Daley and Dominika Sikorska, are known for bringing some of the most authentic Polish cuisine to Melbourne (a Polish friend of mine can attest to this) and the hype had risen to a point where I was hearing about Eat Pierogi Make Love on the daily. 

So my partner and I wander in on a Thursday evening without a booking – it’s walk-in only – and are lucky to secure two stools at the bar. The place is heaving. And what a golden vibe. Dusky natural light streams through the windows to cast a warm glow throughout the high-ceilinged space. One of the things I love most about Eastern European food is the smell: that cosy, vegetal aroma that makes one think of rainy days in, a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove. Yes, that permeates the air here, but other sensory touches add to the warmth, too: a nostalgic 2010s indie music playlist, colourful paintings from Polish artists splashed across the walls and a cheeky-looking cactus by the door. You can nestle in a booth or even sit outside in a sunny courtyard, but we’re glad to be at the bar with front-row seats to the cocktail show. 

It’s a refreshing Spritz made with prosecco and cytrynowka (a Polish lemon liqueur) for my partner, and a Sour Cherry Sour for me to kick off proceedings. Both cocktails are fruity and tart, first-rate palate cleansers for the snacks to follow. Zakaski, a heading in the menu that is described as “food for vodka”, offers a concise but diverse array of starter plates. Think cucumber spears, house paté with rye, Polish mountain cheese and more (I’ll be back for the housemade potato and sauerkraut fries, for sure), but it’s the marinated herring that catches my eye. This is lucky, as it’s a stunner of a bite. Singing with flavours of onion, fennel and parsley, it’s perched on a slice of spelt bread with peppercorns and currants. The juicy little red fruits pop in my mouth, while the herring is fresh and beautifully balanced with all the other flavours. We’ve also ordered a bowl of pickled seasonal veggies, sharp crunchy morsels of cauliflower, peach and capsicum, and a smoked Polish sausage with side dips. The waxy-skinned snag is good with the mustard, but even better with the nippy horseradish. 

But the star of the show at Eat Pierogi Make Love (or so we’d heard) is the selection of vodka. Now if bad memories of cheap shots have given you an aversion to the stuff, this could be a prime opportunity to turn that relationship around. You'll only get top-shelf serves here, and we start with a trio of shots from one of Poland’s most premium vodka suppliers Chopin. Though each has been made from either potato, rye or wheat, the difference between each drop is more like a whisper than a shout. They're clean as a whistle and super subtle. It’s then that the owner lets us in on a secret: if you really want the proper and interesting drops, it’s better to get it under the house for a more authentic experience. We’re swiftly served an old-style rye vodka. “That’ll put hairs on your chest,” my partner says, much to my alarm for a second before I understand what he means.  It heats you up from the inside out and plants mysterious tingles of grain and spice on your tongue. 

The next course is the soup of the day, a chilled cucumber broth with dill and hot chunks of potato to contrast with the cool. It’s bursting with herbs and both refreshing and comforting at the same time. We also try a golabek (pork and rice cabbage roll in tomato sauce), which is light and velvety with the sweet piquancy of the tomato lifting the unctuous pork inside. Now to the important bit: the pierogi. It’s the final dish of our meal, and our favourite. You can get five versions of both boiled and pan-fried pierogi here, but you can’t go wrong with the traditional potato and twarog cheese dumplings. These glossy pillows are tender and al dente, with the cheese inside carrying a gentle funk and acidity that keeps things interesting. It’s 100 per cent comfort food, and utterly dreamy washed down with a Polish pilsner. Coated in sour cream and dill, all eight pieces disappear off the plate very fast.

“Was it stodgy?” someone asked me when I relayed details of my visit later in the week. Eastern European cuisine might have a reputation for being heavier or less trendy than its Western European neighbours in Italy and France, but stodgy would be the last word to describe the eats we enjoyed at this restaurant. The words 'fresh' and 'wholesome' rather come to mind.

One thing that’s impossible to ignore at Eat Pierogi Make Love is the unbelievably positive energy that seems to flow like an endless feedback loop between patrons and staff. Sure, there’s a solid injection of rosy vibes from rivers of liquor, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s a team who love the food they create and are passionate about serving it, and it makes a huge difference. Is there anywhere else in Melbourne like it? Absolutely not. And so we drift out of there, our (very hazy, by this point) brains able to focus only on one question: when can we go again?

Time Out Melbourne never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

Can't get enough dumplings? Here's our guide to the finest in town. 

Lauren Dinse
Written by
Lauren Dinse


161 Lygon St
Brunswick East
Opening hours:
Mon 5-10pm, Thu 5-10pm, Fri noon-midnight, Sun noon-9pm
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