Review: Yogi Perogi
Perogi (also spelled pierogi or pirogi) are doughy dumplings of eastern European origin. If you’re from Northeastern Ohio, you likely have a stronger familiarity with them than other areas of the state. The beloved dish has become a bit easier to find in Columbus in recent years as newer restaurants such as Hubert’s Polish Kitchen and Babushka’s Kitchen carry them on their menus. There’s even a food truck now that specializes in them.
Enter, Yogi Perogi. This new dumpling slinger opened in April of 2012 on Grandview Avenue, and stands out as a bit unique as pierogies are almost all they offer. The tiny shop is technically more of a retail store than a restaurant, serving pierogies either hot to order, or frozen in packs to eat at a later date. The small shop boasts a very small seating area and a patio table for two out front if you are in the mood to dine in.
Yogi Perogi is the creation of John Wagner, who you might say is a bit of a health nut. With an undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition, Masters Degree in Cultural Anthropology and a PhD in Human Ecology, he’s been devoting much of his life to the study of personal nutrition. He decided to apply his knowledge to a restaurant where customers could get food served quickly without resorting to unhealthy fast food options.
In their traditional form, pierogis aren’t known as the most healthy of dishes. Stuffed with cheese and potatoes and fried in butter, they’re dense and filling and fitting for staying hearty in harsh cold weather. The large pierogies at Yogi are a bit on the lighter side with a chewy but firm dough only slightly crisped during cooking. A traditional option offers the potato and cheese filling topped with sour cream and grilled onions, but some unique versions are also in store (many of them vegetarian), giving most of the menu a more modern twist.
The Traditional ($2 each) is stuffed with mushrooms, Swiss cheese and grilled sauerkraut and topped with a white pepper cream sauce. Not too far from the original version, the sautéed mushrooms give this pierogi a lighter touch with a creamier filling. The white pepper cream was surprisingly potent. It’s whipped into a mayo-like consistence and the bold peppery heat can easily dominate the flavors of the filling.
The Greek ($2) pierogi is filled with a spinach and feta mix and topped with a home made tzatziki sauce. The spinach and feta seemed nothing more than your average spinach dip variety, though coupled with their doughy exterior, they reminded me of a spanakopita dish, which worked well. The tzatziki sauce was creamy and heavy on cucumber and complemented the pierogi quite well.
The Reuben ($2.50) is a twist on the sandwich of the same name. This dumpling is filled with corned beef, swiss cheese and sauerkraut and topped with a homemade Thousand Island dressing. Once again, the pierogi provides to be an adaptable, versatile vehicle for fillings. The traditional sandwich translates well into a dumpling, though my order was lighter on filling than the other pierogies. Regardless, the corned beef was of high quality and the Thousand Island sauce was a sweeter rendition, heavy on minced sweet pickles found throughout.
The only two dishes on the menu that aren’t pierogies are the Avgolemono Soup and the Horiatiki Salad ($3 small / $4.50 medium / $6 large). The salad is of Greek origin that includes a marinaded mix of tomato, cucumber, olives, red onion, vinaigrette and a block of feta cheese. I was least impressed with this dish, as it was indistinguishable from most grocery store salad bar counterparts. Which isn’t to say that it was bad, but I can’t see anyone going out of their way to order it here as they would the pierogis.
Overall, Yogi Perogi offers a lot of modern twists to a traditional polish staple. If you need something like grandma used to make, you’re not going to find it here. If you’re looking for something different for lunch, or want something of higher quality to the more modern pierogi flavor varieties you can find in the frozen store bought brands, you’ll be pleased to know this local option exists. These pierogies are large, meaning that two or three should fill most people sufficiently, though after trying out this variety I was still left with that brick-in-the-stomach feeling after eating such a dense food.
They use to-go containers from Eartha Limited, which is a nice touch. If you’d like to get a drink to go, Yogi’s offers an array of natural drinks- Virgil’s Cola and Cream Soda, real sugar Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta, juices, Reed’s Ginger Brews, Honest Ades, teas, and Kombucha.
Yogi Perogi is located at 1413 Grandview Avenue, and is open Monday from 11am to 3pm, Tuesday through Friday 11am to 8pm, Saturday 11am to 4pm and closed on Sunday. More information can be found online at www.yogiperogi.com.
Photos by Jennifer René of Jennifer René Photography.