Black Cat Tavern on 12th’s Potato and Cheese Pierogies

Chef Tom Kulisek and owners Tom Ball and Marlise Tkaczuk

Well aware of the growing number of over-the-top libation locations, Tom Ball and Marlise Tkaczuk did not want to waste their energy conforming to the call for extravagance when fueling their concept for “a nice neighborhood bar.” Come Sunday, the husband and wife will mark their sixth-month anniversary as the brains behind The Black Cat Tavern on 12th, an adored addition to Lower Moyamensing.

“We just want to be a pleasant fit for the community,” Tkaczuk said of the site.

She and her spouse came to occupy the space after having severe financial struggles. Using “If you can’t find a job, make a job” as a guiding principle, they took the leap as a reflection of their trust in being able to helm a cozy spot where patrons could order fulfilling food and drinks and appreciate art, which occurs through juried exhibitions, a product of Tkaczuk’s second line of work as program coordinator for continuing education at Moore College of Art & Design.

Many watering holes, frankly, could not care less about food options, but at the Black Cat Tavern, the owners value victuals and offer “sort of, kind of” a tribute to Polish dishes.

Tkaczuk and Ball enlist Tom Kulisek as their chef for the location’s menu, which includes a favorite among Kulicek’s and Tkaczuk’s ancestors, pierogies, leading to the sharing of the potato and cheese option’s recipe.

“I definitely hope to do her perpetual justice in having these,” Tkaczuk said of her grandmother, “the pierogi mastermind.” “No matter how much we will talk about having more food, we can’t abandon a standout item, and that’s what we have here.”

dough ingredients:

3 eggs

8 ounces of sour cream

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of salt

Water as needed

Filling ingredients

3–4 pounds of mashed potatoes

3–1/2 ounces of shredded cheddar

3–1/2 ounces of sharp cheese of your preference

2 bunches of scallions

2 tablespoons of salt

Dough/Filling Directions

Mix the flour and salt. Place mound of flour/salt mix on table, and make an indentation (well) in center. Add the eggs and sour cream in well, and mix together with hands. Kneed dough on floured surface until soft and smooth (approximately 10 minutes). Let rest for 20 minutes.

Peel the potatoes, and add to a large pot of boiling water. Cook until soft.

Remove from heat, drain water, and mash. Let potatoes cool. Once potatoes have cooled, add cheese, salt, scallions. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Roll out the dough until about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out dough rounds with a cookie cutter or a drinking glass (about 3–4 inches in diameter). Add a spoonful of potato filling in middle of dough round. Fold dough over into the familiar half-moon pierogi shape. Seal edges by pressing lightly with a fork all the way around edges.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Add approximately six pierogis at a time, and cook them for about five minutes. When done, remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in ice water to cool quickly. When ready to serve, pan fry the pierogis in about a tablespoon of butter with some sliced onions. SPR

Chef Tom Kulisek and owners Tom Ball and Marlise Tkaczuk

Photo by Tina Garceau

Black Cat Tavern on 12th

2654 S. 12th St.

Owners: Marlise Tkaczuk and Tom Ball

Opened: May 13, 2016

Photos provided by Black Cat Tavern on 12th