The menu revealed startingly good value. Split into soups and starters, pierogi and big plates, we decided to start off our Sunday afternoon with a 50ml glass of vodka for £3 each, from the freezer. Served with a gherkin, it slipped down easily, warming our frozen selves and bringing a rosy tinge back to our cheeks. With it, we ordered kompot, a home-made fruit drink. It was tinged yellow and slightly cloudy; it tasted mildly of undescernible fruit and heavily of cinnamon. I found it tough going.
We decided on sharing a plate of pierogi Mamuska, boiled parcels which were filled with smoked bacon and cabbage served with sour cream. They were comforting, the dough being lighter than it looked and the porky innards of the dumpling shone through.
A pork loin cutlet, breaded and fried was served with roughly mashed potatoes sprinkled with parsley. Salads to choose from included coleslaw or sauerkraut but we settled on beetroot and it provided a tartness and lightened the dish; I had worried that without a sauce it might be dry, but the pork proved tender and juicy.
At no more than £5 a main dish, this bar mleczny was a brilliant tip. Look beyond the ugly exterior - there within the Elephant & Castle shopping centre lives some gems.
EDIT - I have since been told that 'Mamuska' means 'mama'.
Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre,