Don't be fooled by the name; Pierogi Mountain's depth of flavor goes far beyond Polish dumplings.
Four years ago, Matt Majesky ended Columbus’ Polish dumpling drought by reviving his great-grandmother’s pierogi recipe and opening Pierogi Mountain inside divey Café Bourbon Street in Old North.
Since then, and even after a wowza review from Food Network’s Guy Fieri, his fare has arguably remained a hidden find. But with the opening of a second kitchen takeover earlier this year—this time serving from a window in the rear of the Cheers-esque Wunderbar in German Village—Pierogi Mountain is poised to gain traction. But not for the dish you might expect.
Alongside a rotating menu of authentic pierogi ($1.50 each), Majesky and co-owner Charlie Greene are serving Eastern European-inspired classics, including sausages, stews and schnitzel, made for omnivores and vegans alike. Working in step, the two have created a menu as reliable as Newton’s Third Law—for every meat or cheese-laden dish, there is an equally delicious vegan option.Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.
Take Greene’s shiitake mushroom stroganoff ($6). Coat-a-spoon thick, it bursts with an intense pop of caraway seed and has a cavernous depth of flavor that’ll scratch a comfort food itch you thought only your grandmother could reach. It’s cleverly partnered with vegan potato dumplings, known as kopytka, to sop up every ounce of gravy.
It’s a hearty counterpoint to chicken paprikash ($6) served atop egg dumplings with a soulful, dark brown stew and tender carrots and potatoes. The classic highlighter-orange, sour cream-enriched paprikash this is not. Rather, it’s the recipe Majesky’s dad taught him to make, seasoned with Kitchen Bouquet, a browning sauce used to infuse gravy-like richness.
While it certainly adds flavor, the browning sauce also can overshadow the sweet paprika, which should be the star. Ordering the paprikash as a Hungarian poutine ($5/$7)—smothered over a generous portion of smoked paprika-spiced fries—helps restore balance.
Don’t leave this dark-wooden corner bar, once home to the original Max & Erma’s, without ordering one of the house-made sausages ($5), served with sauerkraut and mustard. Neither the smoky kielbasa with the perfect snap nor the seasonal apple and juniper pork sausage (Majesky’s favorite) is a bad choice. Nor is the (I still can’t believe it’s) vegan seitan schnitzel sandwich ($6), which has an intensely seasoned, crisp, breaded crust, plus sauerkraut, fresh tomatoes and spicy brown mustard on a soft Auddino’s Italian Bakery roll.
If, for some reason, you’ve still got room for dessert, I’d argue you have two options. Ask for a basket of powdered sugar-covered funnel cake bites ($4)—a happy accident of a dish created after the cooks realized that, when fried, their kopytka dough puffs and crisps like the fair dish. Or order Wunderbar’s house Old-Fashioned ($10), delicately sweetened with maple syrup and a dash of spice.