Food review: Climb up Pierogi Mountain for excellent dumplings

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From the March 13, 2014 edition

If you’ve ever bitched about the lack of great pierogi in Columbus, then motor your deprived self over to Weiland’s Market or Kolache Republic. See, those ahead-of-the-curve establishments now sell the delightful and innovatively stuffed dumplings handmade in town by Pierogi Mountain.

Previously, you could only score these delicacies at Cafe Bourbon Street, a punk rock music club. In fact, it was at Bourbon Street, on dollar-pierogi-night Tuesdays (they’re $1.50 apiece or 3 for $4 all other evenings, except Mondays when they're only available frozen for take-home), where I first discovered the wonders of Pierogi Mountain (N.B. gluten-free and vegan products are available).

There, among a group of deal-savvy music insiders (like Lydia Loveless ... ever heard of her?) in the bar’s dark and funky confines — FYI: Bourbon Street has a green health code sticker dated 2-19-2014 — I became a Pierogi Mountain believer after one bite.

Furiously crisping and browning his creations in loads of butter that night (the pierogi are sold frozen at Weiland’s and Kolache) was head Mountaineer Matt Majesky. Majesky, who has a degree in film studies and a master’s in educational psychology, came to pierogi prominence late in life.

After substitute teaching and a string of odd jobs, last summer Majesky decided to pour his energies into his own business. This began a long, hard climb up a mountain of cooking that started with the cherished pierogi recipe of Majesky’s late Polish great-grandmother. Here, I’d like to say “Damn, grans, you must’ve rocked.”

Fortunately, the Eastern European dumpling hasn’t fallen far from the family tree, as the contemporary Majesky proves with his own irresistible goodies. Witness a powerhouse gluten-free special I tried at Bourbon Street ($2). Imbued with more flavor than a gazillion gluten-bombs, it was a vibrantly seasoned, paprikash-esque, sorta gnocchi stew with homey-but-beautiful oblong dumplings, carrots and long-cooked onions.

I also tried all seven excellent pierogi that Majesky offered that night. Each featured the kind of lovely, firm-yet-pliable and semi-thick shell that makes dumpling-suckers like me coo in delight.

Heads up animal-eschewers: Majesky’s spicy, cinnamon-hinting and coriander chutney-topped Vegan Samosa is the best new vegan thing I’ve eaten lately; his Vegan Kraut pierogi is a close second. Other pierogi favorites were the crazy-comforting Smoked Potato Cheddar; rich, zippy and crispy-pig-bitted Bacon, Swiss and Horseradish; and fragrant Ratatouille. Frankly though, I’d happily rip through everyone of them again. Like right now.

Photo by Tim Johnson