A mleczny bar, literally translated as “milk bar,” is a Polish cafeteria which in Communist times, offered traditional cuisine subsidized by the government. The name comes from the cheese chops often sold when meat was scarce.
The history of those milk bars that have come back to fashion
The first milk bar, called “Mleczarnia Nadświdrzańska,” was established in 1896 in Warsaw by Stanisław Dłużewski, a member of the Polish nobility. Very popular, these canteens fed the workers, the poor, and the vagabonds.
After the fall of the communist regime and its subsidies, many of them closed. They, however, made a comeback in the early 2010s, and it’s a good thing for everyone. They offered all kinds of local dishes, home-cooked and at more than affordable prices.
Must try without hesitation and restraint!
Having said that, you may run into a bit of a problem if you have no knowledge of Polish like me. Though some bars display a Polish menu with pictures, other ones an English menu, most still have theirs in Polish and no one to help you.
We had a few surprises…
First, make sure there is a price tag at the end of the menu line. Otherwise, this dish is not available on that day. Then you should know some valuable words like soup, sugar, fish and different meats, potato and pierogi.
You are wondering why “sugar” is essential. It is because they are very fond of it and put it in certain specialties that I expected to be “salty.”
I ordered a plate of macaroni, which arrived with cottage cheese and a good serving of butter, and worst of all for me generously dusted with sugar.
I’m definitely not a sweet and savory fan!
Besides this funny experience, we enjoyed fantastic food there, at an attractive price.