Battlin’ Perogies (Henry’s Deli and Luncheonette)
Henry’s Deli and Luncheonette 916 Brunswick Avenue (609) 392-3537
From the outside, Henry’s looks like an old-school luncheonette, which went out of fashion in the early 1960′s. However, peer through the window, and you see something’s up with the large, modern cooking area, and nicely stocked shelves. Then you realize all the packages have Polish labels, and you remember that you’re at the very epicenter of the Polish section of Trenton: European Bakery is next door, Cosmo Food Market is across the street, Rozmaryn Restaurant is around the corner, and Villa Polonia is two blocks north.
Henry’s menu is schitzoid. Half is a classic American diner, with an extensive breakfast menu, sandwiches, burgers, and cheese steaks. The back page is in Polish. According to the people behind the counter, whose English skills are intermittent, these items are all translated into English in the small print in the “specialties” section. But a quick visual inspection suggests it’s not true. Never mind.
One Polish specialty which does show up in both languages is the perogies: cheese and potato, potato, sauerkraut and mushroom, or meat. They come with sour cream and either applesauce or bacon and onions. Henry’s are home-made on the premises, and can be purchased for eating-in, or are available frozen to cook at home.
Now here’s the deal: Henry’s perogies are peasant food. My favorites are sauerkraut and mushroom and the potato and they’re delicious. But they’re not light. Hit the Villa Polonia up the street, and you’ll get a delicate, light little puff. Also delicious but in a very different way. Julian’s are kind-of in the middle. Cosmos also sells frozen perogies to cook at home (for about $1.70 more a dozen – $6.95 instead of $4.95-5.25 as at Henry’s). I confess not to have tried them, though they look more like Villa Polonia’s rather than Henry’s. As of this moment, my personal favorites are Julian’s, but its fun to figure out which you prefer, and I hope you get the chance. You may not lose weight, but you’ll have fun.