The plan was never pierogi. For Eat Pierogi Make Love founders Guy Daley and Dominka Sikorska, it was always fashion and music, respectively. But when the pair were expecting their first child, they wanted more stability. They came up with a business plan based on one of their first activities as a couple: hosting pierogi parties.
You may have crossed paths with Daley and Sikorska through their first business, the Pierogi Pierogi food truck, which has been seen at Grazeland food precinct in Spotswood, Meredith Music Festival and markets around Melbourne, and is stocked at stores like Smith & Deli and Oasis.
Now, the duo have opened their first bricks-and-mortar joint: the memorably named Eat Pierogi Make Love. The restaurant’s arresting name has also become their mantra. “Making love is spreading love, spreading understanding and spreading joy – that’s what we want to do with this business,” Daley tells Broadsheet.
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They hope the restaurant inspires people to consider Poland – where Sikorska grew up – and Polish food beyond the stereotypes. “[Poland is] not grey, it’s not bleak, it’s not anything like that. It’s beautiful,” says Daley. “So making Polish food sexy is really what we’re trying to do.”
Eat Pierogi Make Love adopts a Polish way of drinking and eating that Daley says is not unlike the experience you get at a Japanese izakaya.
The menu puts a youthful twist on traditional flavours and ingredients. The pierogi options, naturally, are plentiful and varied – from traditional pierogi ruskie (potato and cheese) to a deep-fried vegan offering.
The snacky Food for Wodka menu includes rainbow pickles, Polish mountain cheese with cranberry sauce, mixed pate on rye, and sauerkraut-and-potato fritters served with sour cream.
For small plates, try the black sausage or Daley’s recommendation: a loaded smashed potato dish with gzik (a cottage cheese dip) that he says “tastes like Polish spring”. Larger mains include slow-cooked pork skewers coated in blueberry sauce and served on a bed of bigos (hunter’s stew), or leniwe, pleasing gnocchi-like morsels known as “lazy dumplings”.
The drinks list spotlights vodka, with 14 “clear” options and a number of tinctures, such as orange and cloves, bison grass, and quince. There’s also wine, Polish beer and cocktails, including a Martini dirtied with Polish cucumber brine, and a Zubrowka, apple and cinnamon number.
The fit-out plays with Polish aesthetics, nodding to brutalist design with its abundant concrete and beige grid tiling. Colourful Polish posters, retro-inspired light fixtures and scattered cobalt menus add colour.
Keep an eye peeled for the restaurant’s upcoming Eat Polska Sunday session: an invitation to partake in the Polish Sunday family meal tradition. You can try specialty dishes like kotlety mielone (turkey and pork meatballs with veg and mash) and kotlety schabowy (crumbed pork loin cutlets with young potatoes, salad and kefir).
Eat Pierogi Make Love
161 Lygon St, Brunswick East
(03) 8394 5240
Fri & Sat 12pm–midnight