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NL-041218

The New Lenox Patriot 041218

26 | April 12, 2018 |

26 | April 12, 2018 | The New Lenox Patriot New Lenox newlenoxpatriot.com Leave the writing to the pros. Local writing professionals for all your copy needs. BOOST YOUR BUSINESS NOW: 708.329.8594 or content@22ndcm.com FOR MORE: 22CMBOOST.COM

newlenoxpatriot.com Dining Out the New Lenox Patriot | April 12, 2018 | 27 Tradycja builds upon Polish traditions with modern flair Bill Jones, Managing Editor A new Polish restaurant opens in Orland Park. “Is it a deli or a buffet?” That is the question with which Damian Piekarczyk has been faced ever since opening the doors to Tradycja half a year ago in Orland Park. The calls are almost daily, but the answer to it is: neither. “Polish culture is not about buffets and delis,” Piekarczyk said, calling that an “old misconception.” While Tradycja literally means “tradition,” the restaurant brands itself as “Polish fusion cuisine.” Similarly, while a portion of its menu deals in Polish comfort food — such as dumplings, breaded pork chops, potato pancakes and stuffed cabbage — the rest of it is an exploration of everything else Polish cuisine can be. “It’s a plated restaurant and dinner,” Piekarczyk said. “We want to show that Polish cuisine, Polish food, is not just a buffet. We have nice restaurants.” In fact, the standards of Polish cuisine to which many Americans are accustomed are more akin to comfort foods back in Poland, Piekarczyk explained. People rarely go out to eat them; they are simply made at home. And they do not display the true skills of a chef the way modern food can, he said. Piekarczyk’s cuisine much more resembles what one would find at hotel restaurants in Poland. In fact, Piekarczyk, who moved to the United States just four years ago, got his culinary start at a Polish hotel called Crocus, working under a mentor by the name of Sebastian Krauzowicz. It is Piekarczyk’s mission to take the things he learned and educate the area on modern Polish cuisine. And he considered Orland Park an obvious spot to do it after moving to the Chicago area. “You don’t have many Polish restaurants here, and you have a lot of Polish people,” he said of the village. The mission starts, of course, with the food. Tradycja’s main focus is modern Polish cuisine, and Piekarczyk said it will continue to change with the season, using fresh fish and berries as they are available. When asked of which dish he is most proud, Piekarczyk interestingly enough goes to the soups portion of the menu, where he features a creamy potato with sheep’s cheese variety ($7), which includes shiitake mushrooms, chives and truffle oil — a “Highland thing” that helps show off his heritage. He also is partial to the lamb rack ($26), served with shallots, artichoke, carrot ragout, parsley and cashew pesto. And while everything is plated to perfection, the pork tenderloin ($18) may be among the most photogenic of the bunch, featuring three medallions with saffron potatoes, carrots, fried leeks and a wild mushroom sauce. Tradycja 14478 S. LaGrange Road in Orland Park Hours • 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday- Saturday • Noon-9 p.m. Sunday • Closed Mondays • Summer Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday For more information ... Phone: (708) 949-8109 Virtually every dish on the menu has a different plate to feature it, according to server Agnieszka Kuc, who helped with translations in the interview with Piekarczyk, as needed. While Piekarczyk ultimately is calling the shots in the kitchen, Kuc said he is great about taking staff feedback and letting everyone contribute good ideas to make the restaurant stronger, especially when it comes to the bar. Among the can’t-miss offerings there, for those of age, is the cytrynówka, which Kuc said is like a Highlander version of limoncello, made in house. “Every family has their version of it,” she said. The look of Tradycja is just as important to Piekarczyk as its cuisine. One wall features a series of Highlander crests, and everything from the tables and chairs to the wood adorning the bar area was shipped from Poland to decorate the restaurant. And the chef even ABOVE: The pork tenderloin ($18) features saffron potatoes, carrots, fried leeks and a wild mushroom sauce, showing off chef Damian Piekarczyk’s take on modern Polish cuisine. TOP OF PAGE: A panoramic view shows the back half of Tradycja, a Polish fusion restaurant that opened late last year in Orland Park. Photos by Bill Jones/22nd Century Media spent what “many people” have told him was probably too much to make sure the bathrooms not only fit the theme but also help customers feel comfortable with the quality of establishment Tradycja strives to be. Piekarczyk said Friday and Saturday evenings have been busy, while Sundays see a predominantly Polish crowd. But Tradycja also features a limited lunch menu during the week and offers customers a catering menu. But dinner is where Piekarczyk truly shines. While he could not find the perfect word in English for the feeling he has about bringing what he does to the United States, he described it as something akin to a calling or purpose. He knew, even when he was learning in Poland, that he one day wanted to bring his talents here to show people what Polish cuisine is all about. “I’m very glad that I’m here,” he said. “People have to know about us.”