Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Porubsky's: A Taste of Topeka History

I ventured down to Porubsky's, in Little Russia, on the outskirts of Oakland in the northeastern part of Topeka for an article I'm writing for TK Business Magazine. I decided I should order some food, just in case I decided to write a review. Of course, my experience was a memorable one so I had to write about it.

The full name is CW Porubsky Grocery and Meats, but most people just call it Porubsky's. Even though the area was populated by Germans before the Great Flood in 1951, people called them Russians because a group of them had previously settled in Russia, and the area became known as "Little Russia". People still call it that today. The restaurant and grocery has been here since 1947, and at that time main bridge to the Oakland part of Topeka was right there, instead of to the North, where it is today. Then in 1951 the flood came along and destroyed the bridge, but it didn't destroy Porubsky's.

If you mention Porubsky's to anyone in Topeka they will immediately talk about one of two things, the hot pickles or the chili. For me, it's the chili. Monday through Thursday, Sept. 1 to April 1, they make it fresh daily, which means, next week there won't be any more chili until September! I just realized this as I was typing it and it makes me a little sad inside. A lot of people like the hot pickles, but I'm not much into hot pickles, my favorite are dill and bread and butter and I'm not much into spicy foods. Although, over the years that is changing some.

The chili definitely is one of a kind and so good. It's got beef and beans and so many spices and seasonings I could't tell you exactly what is in it, but whatever it was, it was tasty and I can't say I've ever had chili like it. It comes with a slice of cheese on top, saltine crackers and a cup of raw onions on the side. I got a little slice of a hot pickle, too, but not a whole one, I honestly am not a big fan of horseradish and that's what they use to make these particular pickles hot. It wasn't as bad as I'd remembered the last time I tried one, but I don't think I'll be ordering one any time soon. The chili,
however, I will be back this fall for another bowl.

Their menu has more than just chili, and there's an entire deli on the other side of the store. Deli
sandwiches and a cold plate, and in the summer a special hoagie sandwich replaces the chili. I'm not sure where else in town you can get a pastrami on rye from a local restaurant, where it's sliced fresh daily. Please enlighten me if you know of a place.

When I was in there today, not only was I interviewing Cecilia Porubsky but there were a couple of students from Washburn University there interviewing her, too. They were asking questions about the history of the deli and I got to hear some interesting stories about the flood and the people who lived in the area who have supported the deli over the decades. Cecelia said that about 75 percent of the people who come in are regulars and the rest are people from out of town who have read or heard about the place from people raving about the food. Kansas state legislators and law makers come in during the legislative session on the regular and people venture out into the snow and sleet to get chili for home. If you haven't been to Porubsky's, you're truly missing a wonderful experience. The people and the food will keep me coming back every time.

Josey Baking Co.

This post was originally published on www.EverythingTopeka.com. Check out the website for information about what's going on in Topeka. 

A cute little bakery recently popped up in Westboro in the little shopping center on Huntoon and Oakley. It's been there for a couple months, but because I've been avoiding carbs, I haven't gone yet. I finally decided to venture over there today and I wasn't disappointed.

The first thing I noticed was the overwhelming smell of freshly baked bread and cinnamon rolls. Oh the bread! The items available ranges from sweet and savory kolaches, cinnamon rolls, cookies, croissants and much more. The lady working said they've been busy and even as the baker was bringing out fresh kolaches, people were ordering them just as fast because it was lunch time.

Before ordering I looked at everything that was to offer, and although it was lunch time, there was still a nice variety. As an advocate for locally sourced foods, I noticed Josey Baking Co. sells Hildebrand milk and uses the cream for coffee, too. On the Facebook page I learned the bakery also offers strawberry, chocolate, 2% or the mocha-chocolate milk at retail prices. Hildebrand milk comes in a glass bottle, though, so be prepared to pay the bottle deposit. Of course you get that money back when you return, or just get a new one without repaying that deposit fee. It’s simple. I have five bottles laying around on any given day because I forget them but it’s always nice when you
remember and end up with an extra $10.

 I ordered the Monte Cristo kolache and a cup of the tomato basil soup. I didn't want to go too crazy on the bread but I do wish I could have tried the bierock or even the BBQ pulled pork kolache. Everything available sounded tasty but I couldn't get it all. Even all the sweets looked amazing, I just can't eat all that or it will make my stomach upset anymore, so I passed. Everything I've heard about the cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats has been positive, though.
The Monte Cristo kolache was sprinkled with powdered sugar and stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese. Served on the size was a little cup of jalapeno raspberry jelly that had a nice kick to it because there's little chunks of jalapenos throughout it. The bread was soft and fluffy but nice and crusty on the bottom, not soggy. I loved it, and the jelly had just enough spiciness that it wasn't overpowering and went smoothly with the powdered sugar and Swiss cheese.

The tomato soup was chunky and seasoned just right. I love it when there are chunks of tomato and not completely smooth. I love texture.

My only complaint is that my schedule doesn’t mesh well with theirs and most of the time I have driven by, they are closed. But, it’s a small, locally owned business and a bakery. Usually bakeries close after noon, but at least these guys stay open until 5 p.m. most days except Saturday when they close at noon.

I’m excited to return and try the other pastries, but slowly, so it’s going to take awhile because there are so many varieties to choose from. I hear the cinnamon rolls are amazing and they’re huge.

Here's a direct link to my post on Everything Topeka, http://everythingtopeka.com/the-topeka-newsletter/667-experience-restaurants-with-tricia