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Paul's Pel'meni restaurant serves delicious Russian dumplings

Published On: Dec 20 2013 04:23:52 PM CST

Owner Paul Schwoerer (left) and dumplings with “the works.” Photos by Nicole Peaslee.

By Michelle Li

There’s no such thing as indecisively poring over the menu at Paul’s Pel’meni. You get either dumplings or dumplings, and that’s exactly how the eatery is designed.

“We hope to add some things down there but for right now it’s just the dumplings,” says the downtown restaurant’s owner, Paul Schwoerer. “And that’s fine for now.”

A pel’meni is a Russian dumpling, often considered a little brother to the more popular pierogi. At Paul’s, you can order a pel’meni filled with local beef from Black Earth Meats or a traditional dumpling filled with regional potatoes and butter.

But wait, it gets better.

Not only are the dumplings delicious on their own, Schwoerer has also found a way to kick things up a notch. If you order “the works,” which Schwoerer highly recommends, your mouth will be pleasantly surprised by the combination of curry, sriracha, cilantro and sour cream. It’s a simple recipe, but the flavors speak loudly to nearly all diners. He discovered the combo many moons ago while working at an ice cream shop in Juneau, Alaska. Back in the day, he was serving the dumplings with just plain butter and sour cream when a seasonal worker said the dumplings needed something else. A year later, they had the special sauce nailed.

“I think in the last ten years here, the whole dumpling thing has really taken off,” Schwoerer says. He would know. His new restaurant is the second edition of a similar dumpling shop he ran with a business partner in the mid-2000s, a State Street shop called simply Pel’meni. “I feel very blessed, very fortunate,” says Schwoerer. “This whole thing kind of came full circle.”

Paul's Pel'meni
203 W. Gorham St.
354-1713

Find more Madison Magazine food & drink articles here

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