After eating half a plate of halusky, the national dish of Slovakia, at a Czech restaurant a few days ago, I knew exactly what I was getting into when I headed to Slovak-owned Milan’s in Brooklyn: meat, potatoes, cheese, more potatoes, some fried dough, and maybe some more cheese and meat. And that’s completely awesome, but probably not the sort of food that you’d want to feed to a bride who needs to cram herself into a pretty little white dress in a few weeks.
So guess what? I brought a friend with me to Milan’s, and she has to fit into a pretty little white dress in a few weeks. Just before our meal, her tailor instructed her “not to gain or lose any weight” between now and her wedding day. So basically, I’m a complete a**hole for feeding her halusky and fried potato pancakes and blueberry-stuffed pierogies. Isn’t there always a risk that unexpected weight gain might turn a lovely, calm, mild-mannered young woman into a raging bridezilla?
Unfortunately for our bride friend, it would be silly and impossible and reckless to try to maintain a girlish figure at Milan’s. When we arrived, the friendly Slovak owner brought a basket of fresh bread with an addictive spread made from scallions and cream cheese… not exactly a wedding-dress-friendly way to start the meal. To accompany our bread and fat, we ordered a plate of “baked” (but suspiciously crisp and buttery) pierogies, stuffed with an insanely delicious blueberry compote, and garnished with sour cream ($5.20). Definitely a nominee for the best dish I’ve eaten this month.
(And yes, we ate dessert first. Hey, you have to be prepared for anything. You never know, the world might end while you’re in the middle of your entrée, and you’ll never actually get to dessert.)
For our entrees, the lovely bride-to-be ordered halusky ($8.10), since I spoke so highly of it after visiting Zlata Praha. In case you missed our last encounter with Czechoslovak food, halusky is Slovakia’s gut-busting equivalent of macaroni & cheese, except that it’s made from bryndza, a sheep cheese that tastes like a cross between feta and parmesan. And it’s made with dumplings (spatzle) instead of macaroni. And it’s topped with bacon. Always delicious, never wedding-dress-friendly.
I don’t have to fit into a wedding dress in the next few months (though I did wear a prom dress on stage once… long story), so I opted for the Slovak combination plate ($9.40), consisting of a generous pile of halusky, three crispy (“baked”) potato pierogies with sour cream, and an absolutely delicious, deep-fried, garlic-scented potato pancake. I also ordered cole slaw ($2); I was expecting vinegary, Russian-style slaw, but instead was served a bowl of the creamiest slaw I’ve ever seen. Not my style, really, but you have to give Milan’s credit for turning perfectly healthy cabbage into a ridiculously rich, heavy side dish.
Also to Milan’s credit, we had exactly zero chance of cleaning our plates, especially after starting with our thoroughly unnecessary (and thoroughly worthwhile) plate of blueberry pierogies. It’s funny, a 1999 NY Times review of the place whined that Milan’s portions were served in “dainty portions”, albeit at “extraordinarily low prices.” Twelve years later, the prices are still low, but the portions are anything but dainty: despite her best efforts, my (still dainty, but temporarily well-fed) bride friend only managed to eat 1/3 of her halusky, and I left about a quarter of my meal on the plate.
But seriously, 1/3 of a plate of halusky—preceded by a few chunks of bread and a batch of blueberry pierogies—is a pretty serious meal for a bantamweight bride-to-be. I’ve never met a bride who can eat like that without getting instantly neurotic. Good job, non-bridezilla! We’re impressed.
710 5th Avenue, Brooklyn
Subway: 25th Street (R train)