For the past year, whenever I stay over at my boyfriend’s house on a school night (let’s be generous and say once a week, although the reality is I almost always bully him into staying at mine) my commute to work will take me through the rather un-lovely Elephant & Castle shopping centre.
Despite the “mall” being so unappealing (and let’s face it, semi-derelict) I have started to develop a small interest in the area.
Now that Brixton’s Granville Arcade, lord rest its gentrified soul, has become completely overrun run by The Foodies and their unwelcome companions The Hipsters*, I can only assume that once it reaches saturation point, the overflow will end up in Elephant. It seems the natural successor. And I think I’ve spied a bit of this starting already, under the arches along New Kent Road, although I’ve not yet had a chance to investigate further.
Anyway, I digress. For the past year, on a not-quite-weekly basis, I’ve walked though this shopping centre where really nothing catches my eye at all except for this one place, looking slightly sleeker than its surrounds in red and black with canteen style tables, it is called Mamuska.
I finally went there last night and I must say, what a shame it took me so long!
Mamuska is polish for “stepmother” and the slogan on the menu reads “your mother will hate us!” Indeed, if a polish son’s love is bought and sold on the strength of his last meal, there may be some angry matkas out there! The food was delicious. Generous (but not over-sized) portions of what I can only assume would be classed as Polish comfort food, it reminded us of meals we’d eaten in Prague, which I guess makes some sense geographically.
We shared a starter of fishcake with a lightly pickled salad, a half portion of cheese and potato “ruskie” dumplings with sour cream (above), potato pancakes with goulash(below) . While the pancakes were decidedly our winner the evening, all three dishes were very tasty and with the menu topping out at £5 for a main course, exceptionally good value.
The service model is basic canteen style; grab a table, head to the counter and place your order, drinks handed out at the time, then wait for your number to be called before heading back up to collect your grub. But, for all its lacking airs, graces and table service, the staff were very polite and friendly and more than happy to make recommendations when presented with our slightly blank faces in response to being asked with topping we wanted on our pierogi (the dumplings it turns out).
The bill for three dishes and two very large beers coming to a measly £17 (and that’s total, not each mind!) so this really is a bargain.
Having discovered they are open until at least midnight week round and feature live polish bands on a weekly basic, I promise I will not be leaving it another year before my next visit!
* (I actually bloody love Brixton. This is a joke. Mostly)
Disclaimer: once again, I forgot to take any photos. All pics pinched from Mamuska’s website http://mamuska.net/.