For my first Rensselaer County edition of Crumbs around the Capital (a bit overdue!), I decided to try a small Polish restaurant in Troy that has gotten rave reviews from a few acquaintances. Muza offers an interesting selection of Polish and other European specialties, such as pierogi, kielbasa, beef goulash, stroganoff, stuffed cabbage, and schnitzel. The menu also has several sampler plate options, where you can try a few of the offerings at once.
Muza is small and only has a handful of tables, but while we waited for a spot to open up, we were able to check out The Hill at Muza, the recently opened beer garden addition in the back of the restaurant. The bar was cozy and friendly, and both the indoor space and the outdoor patio can be nicely warmed up by space heaters. Although it was still a bit chilly for us to venture outside, I am curious to come back in Spring weather and check out the patio space.
We were excited to finally get to our table and the meal ahead of us, although we discovered that service at Muza is exceptionally slow. Even our first course (a soup) took at least a half an hour to get to us, which was a bit baffling. Waitstaff were friendly, however, and I usually don’t mind waiting for quality homemade food.
Our first selection certainly did not disappoint. We chose a kielbasa soup, which was one of the daily specials. The base of the soup was a light potato broth, rich with seasoning and a great salty, smoky flavor from the chunks of kielbasa.
For my entree, I opted for the Polish Sampler, which includes two pierogi, two stuffed cabbage, and two potato pancakes. I was mostly excited for the pierogi, and had even considered getting an entire plate of them for a meal. Yet I found them to be a little underwhelming. It could be that I am more used to fried pierogi (which was an option on the menu), but I found the dough to be too thick and a little gummy. Even the filling, a traditional mix of onion, cheese, and potato, was on the salty side.
The golumpki (stuffed cabbage) were lovely. The rolls were jam packed with pork, beef, and rice and were nicely seasoned. They were also generously coated in a tomato sauce that had a light touch of creaminess to it.
The real standout of the sampler plate was the potato pancakes, served with apple sauce or sour cream. They were perfectly crispy on the outside with a smooth consistency on the inside and great, fresh flavors.
My dining companion also had a hearty serving of the latkes in the Muza Special, which is two giant potato pancakes stuffed with beef goulash and a side of sauerkraut. I had expected the goulash to have a higher proportion of meat, but it was really more of a gravy with occasional beef chunks dispersed throughout. Still, quite a flavorful and interesting plate.
Final Rating: 7/10. The meal had some strong components, including the quality of the potato latkes and the interesting variety of menu offerings. Some aspects did not meet my expectations (although I look forward to giving the pierogi another try, perhaps fried or perhaps one of the special meat varieties). And service was on the slow side, but friendly and attentive.