Man, it's good to have foodie friends. I would never have found places like Polonza Bistro in Downtown Pensacola without them. I went to Polonza for lunch on a Friday with my friend Q and my brother. It was just pass noon and the restaurant was packed.
To start off our meal, I ordered the fried calamari and fried okra. It's served with what they call a spicy caper remoulade. It was a nice size serving. The calamari very tender. The breading is not too thick, which I like. The downfall though is it actually starts falling off of the calamari itself. By the time, you're done you'll probably see a lot of breading left at the bottom of the plate. The okra got the same treatment as the calamari but this time, the breading had a much better chance of clinging to the vegetable. The only real disappointing thing about the appetizer was the remoulade. It tasted like mayonnaise with some caper juice added to it. I didn't even taste any of the capers itself although I did see flecks of green in the sauce.
My friend, Q, wanted to try the Polonza Brunswick Stew (Bowl, $7.75). It's pulled BBQ Pork, tomatoes, potatoes and corn. It was like an amped up beef stew. The BBQ pork made it slightly sweet and you can definitely taste the smokiness it lends to the broth. I couldn't get enough. Good thing, my friend is all about sharing. She thought it was slightly too salty but I thought it was good. That's one thing to be aware of when ordering this soup. The stew is served with Polona's homemade dinner roll. I first I thought it was a pretzel roll but it wasn't. It's moist and had a slightly sweet flavor.
We were torn over what to order. We were looking around and it seems like burgers were the thing. Thank goodness, my people know what I'm about and we decided to order three of their popular items and give each other a taste.
Q ordered the Polonza burger which has all your regular fixins' and the house pimento cheese. She ordered the burger medium well and I was a little apprehensive that it would be dry. It turned out to be very juicy still. I think the pimento cheese is really what makes the burger. It's not your regular fare, I think it may have roasted peppers as well as pimento. I would have polished more than the quarter burger I was allocated if not for my sandwich staring me in the face. Q ordered the sweet potato fries to go with it. The fries weren't too sweet or too salty. It balanced it out nicely.
My brother got the BBQ Chicken plate. It was a quarter of a chicken, two sides (gouda mac and cheese and braised collard greens), and a homemade dinner roll. The chicken looked dry when it came to the table but it really wasn't. There's a heavy smoky flavor to it. I liked it more when it's dipped in the extra side of Polonza BBQ sauce. The BBQ sauce is tangy but also have hints of sweetness to it. The gouda mac and cheese was heavenly and huge! The sides themselves can fill a person up. While the mac and cheese was good, the braised collard greens weren't quite there. I like softer collards with more smoky flavor. These still had a bit of a chew to them and they were more hot sauce in them than I like.I had the Brisket sandwich along with a side of mac and cheese. The brisket is smoked with pecan-wood and topped with homemade cole slaw on a homemade bun. I thought the sandwich was just ok when I had the first bite. After I dipped it in the BBQ sauce, it became stellar. The sauce gave it the tang it needed to bring out the flavors in the brisket and mingled well with the coleslaw. It also soaked the bun just enough to melt in your mouth. Our meal was so large we needed up taking a serving and a half of the mac and cheese home. It was delicious heated up as a snack later.
I look forward to introducing this place to more of my friends. To check out Polonza's website, click here.