136 Greenpoint Ave
(between Franklin St & Manhattan Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Our Rating: ★★★
Cards: All Major
Hours: Mon-Thurs 12pm – 10:30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm – 11.30pm, Sun 12pm – 10pm
Booze: Full bar
Subway: G at Greenpoint Ave.
NY Mag says:
Karczma sets itself apart from other Polish spots in Greenpoint by playing up the Old World décor — appropriate for a place whose name means “farmhouse.” Upon entering the heavy, windowless front door, you’re greeted by costumed servers and ushered into the farm-themed dining room, replete with bucolic accents like a barrel, wagon, wooden-wheel chandeliers, and even an old-fashioned well. Despite the kitschy accents, real Polish people actually come here. Tables are occupied by families speaking the language and the bar is a mix of natives and locals grasping tall, thin glasses of Zywiec. The pierogies (served fried or boiled) are filling and come with sour cream, as do the crunchy potato pancakes. The grilled plate for two includes spicy kielbasa, thick bacon, seasoned chicken, beef-textured ham, charred salmon, and an eight-inch bitter, black blood sausage with roasted potatoes and a mound of sauerkraut. Sandwiches can be less meat-focused: a popular sesame-seed-roll sandwich comes lined with chunks of grilled squash, zucchini, and red and green peppers with crinkle-cut fries on the side. Desserts have an American bent with slices of apple pie or cheesecake. Cheese and potato pierogies, $5.50; grilled plate for two, $22
Village Voice says:
Though karczma sounds like a serious skin condition, the word is Polish for something like “rustic country inn.” Karczma is also the name of Greenpoint’s newest restaurant, one of the first that attempts to elevate Polish cuisine above the level of diner fare. The interior is countrified and agrarian—in a designer sort of way—featuring barn-wood booths flanked by loveseats that look like pregnant Adirondack chairs, capable of accommodating the widest derrieres. Farm implements are scattered on the walls, including pitchforks that might impale you if you get too excited about the food. An overhang with hay thatching identifies the bathrooms, making them look like outhouses…Our favorite entrée was the grilled fresh ham ($8.50), a pair of pale steaks that must have been marinated in white wine before being grilled to complete succulence. The accompanying fries, however, left something to be desired—dull and mealy crinkle cuts like the kind you find freezer-burned in the supermarket case. Playing the healthy card, Karczma’s menu is filled out with dishes that are grilled rather than deep-fried, including salmon, trout, and—natch!—skinned-and-deboned chicken breast, the world’s most unpromising ingredient.
Thankfully, unreconstructed Polish dishes survive and can be ordered and savored once you’ve eliminated the “healthy” stuff from consideration. The entrée spicy beef goulash ($8.5) was anything but, convincing us that the Poles are a tender-tongued lot when it comes to chilies or even black peppercorns. The cubes of beef fell apart at the touch of a fork and the gravy was brown and flavorful, though far less copious than one would have hoped. More gravy, please! Once again, lovers of sheer volume will find much to like on the entrée menu. Special meat selections for two ($22) or four ($31) are so abundant, they really feed three or six. These come with big bowls of roasted potatoes and pork-flecked sauerkraut, the latter a bit too sweet for my taste. It would probably make a good “healthy” dessert, though.
And Karczma has (gasp!) a wine list, the only Polish restaurant I know of that is so equipped. It includes a red Côtes de Bourg ($22), a hopelessly obscure Bourdeaux appellation from the village of Bourg on the bank of the Dordogne River in southwestern France, tannic enough to cut through any gravy. Or, as a tribute to Greenpoint’s nearby and newly hip Metropolitan Avenue, you can elect a cut-price California merlot: Bohemian Highway ($17).