Immovable feast 


There's nothing particularly normal about The Parked Pierogi, from its name to its tiny dining room to its equally small and eclectic menu and amusing drink list. But that's OK — a draw, even — and all can be explained rather effortlessly.

The name: Business partners Julie Wetzel, Nicole Schoenfeld and Christopher Williamson originally imagined a food truck featuring their starchy, Eastern European comfort-food stars. But they didn't have the dough to invest in reliable wheels and commissary fees, so they opted to rent at a small brick-and-mortar first. And now that it's going so well, Wetzel says, they'll most likely stay parked, soon expanding hours and offerings.

The cozy space: You may remember it as the pricier Amuzé Bistro, before chef Bill Sherman moved that business into the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Dating back to 1874, it was a bunkhouse and then station agent's house for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. It now holds a beautifully carved wooden bar with seven seats and 10 more seats around three tables. In warmer months, the patio will seat 40.

The humble menu: It's Schoenfeld's fusion-oriented baby, with everything from hearty pork-bison bolognese (under an egg as a breakfast item, $8) and superb green chile-laced huevos rancheros ($8) to an atypical pierogi sampler (including unique bratwurst and pulled-pork versions, $8.50). Not to be forgotten, also, is a Binghamton, N.Y.-inspired "spiedie" sandwich of extensively marinated, vibrantly herby pork or chicken hunks, served seared on a skewer with Italian white bread slices ($7).

The drinks: Inspired by Fort Collins college years, they include Easy Street Wheat beer blended with Champagne, as the effervescent "Man-Mosa" ($5); coffee with a welcome kick of honey whiskey ($4.50); and the finest Bloody Mary I've had in a long time ($7), consisting of half-spicy and half-mild house mix and a bountiful bouquet of celery, olives, lime, a pickle and a crispy slab of bacon (!) protruding from a salt-caked rim.

Overall, it's a fun atmosphere, where it's clear the kids in the kitchen are playing with creative touches to personalize their food, all house-made save for a couple shortcuts like canned black beans. Gyro meat is house-seasoned and -shaved; meats lengthily marinated and slow-roasted; pierogi dough rolled, stuffed and shaped before meeting boiling water, then a pan-sear for crispiness. A tart wild blueberry barbecue sauce competes for your pierogi-dipping attention, but the agave beer mustard easily wins when it comes to the side kielbasa slivers on the pierogi sampler.

Even quinoa gets attention as a side to the Southwest Egg Rolls ($7) of refried beans, beef, pork and gooey jack and cheddar. The grain gets a Mexican rice-style treatment with a touch too much cumin and chile powder — consider it a lively cowboy chuckwagon with a wobbly wheel.

Grounded familiarity can be found in items like The Classic breakfast plate ($7) of two eggs, an English muffin and wonderfully house-seasoned sausage, but even it comes with an herby mashed-potato-and-cheese pierogi side. Those pierogies, by the way, are easily likeable, though purists may take issue with the post-boil sear. (Admittedly, they didn't move me like the more soft, ravioli-like types I fell in love with in Poland.)

Still, as a creative, collective first effort, Parked Pierogi delivers distinctive style. From its historic bones to cultural classics, the dumpling-driven dive deserves the destination drive.



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