Nestled between verdant hills and the Yarra River, the Polish Jester Café is a little slice of Eastern Europe in a uniquely Australian setting. The owners forego pretentiousness in favour of quirky, mismatched décor – from traditional Polish tapestries to angels painted in bright hues on the ceiling.
It's the perfect place to relax and warm up after a hike in Melbourne's chilly winter weather. If you're feeling the cold why not sample some hearty Pierogi (dumplings) – the potato, onion and cheese filling is particularly satisfying – or a glass of owner, Kristof Kaczmarek's home made burnt sugar vodka.
While you're at it, sit back and be entertained by Kristof's humorous anecdotes delivered in a booming voice that inadvertently involves your fellow diners in the conversation. Kristof is a masterful story teller which is not surprising given that he moonlights as an actor of stage, screen and TV.
The food is reasonably priced – the Polish Jester has been recommended by The Age's Cheap Eats guide for the last 5 years. A plate of 6 dumplings will set you back $17.50 and you may have trouble fitting in dessert. If dumplings are not your thing, the lunch menu also boasts Goulash, Golabki (cabbage rolls) or Bigos (cabbage and meat stew) as well as lighter options such as Foccaccias and salads which you can wash down with imported Polish beer. Vegetarian options are also available though beware, Kristof does not approve. He claims meat rationing coupled with a fussy daughter who would only eat certain kinds of meat prompted his family's move from Poland. Imagine his chagrin to be told that his daughter had decided to become a vegetarian!