103 First Ave.
212-228-0604, free delivery
The garish hand of the holidays has transformed every shop window, restaurant, and pseudo-public space, and the human gridlock on the Fifth Avenue sidewalks rivals that of the cars on the street. There is no better time to barricade yourself inside, push away thoughts of how to survive your company holiday party, and order up a feast, Polish diner style.
Teresa’s kitchen is happy to indulge your every whim, whether it’s all-day breakfast or convenient half-orders of your favorite snacks. They might not include silverware or napkins with the delivery, but why quibble when met with divine Apple Fritters ($4.50) — crisp, delicately fried Mutsu slices — and plump, overstuffed Meat Pierogies ($4.50 for 4)? The sweet homemade farmer’s cheese in their Cheese Blintz ($4) forced me to downgrade my positive recommendation of Veselka’s blintz in this column and proclaim Teresa’s its superior. Challah French Toast ($4.95) was thick and fluffy, and the Polish Kielbasa Sandwich ($4.50) was pure, salty sausage satisfaction. It didn’t matter that the Potato Pancakes ($4.50) turned soggy in transit, because by that point in the meal, my friend’s eyes were glazed over in a carb stupor I could feel in the heaviness of my limbs. My last semi-delirious thought before bed: Let the madness and excess begin.
194 First Ave.
How many calls does it take to get Polish delivery in Chelsea? I wish I knew. Luckily, being rebuffed by every Polish restaurant in lower Manhattan doesn’t take long (only five are listed). Resigned to take-out, I shrugged on my coat and headed for the East Village. A cheap, flavorful, high-alcohol imported beer at Neptune’s counter rewarded my effort.
After a quick cab ride home, I unpacked crisp, golden Potato Pancakes ($3, half order) with Sour Cream ($0.50), and a hunger-quashing Polish Sampler ($7.40): Pierogies, Stuffed Cabbage, and Kielbasa drizzled with a thin tomato sauce. The fried Potato Pierogies — pillowy dumplings of browned dough — disappeared immediately. (Pockets of meat and cheese are also available, and can be steamed). Ground beef-stuffed cabbage is rarely exciting, but this version was well seasoned, as was the spicy half-circle of fried sausage. Despite their artery-clogging properties, I’d order both again.
The Cherry Cheese Blintzes ($3, half order) were soggy, but I was so stuffed, that two bites of the sweet cream and gooey fruit-filled crepe was more than enough. As I recovered from a comfort-food coma on my couch, I realized that walking to Neptune hadn’t been such a bad idea after all.