Photos by Peter Crosby
In 1989, Patricia Rich, the daughter of Polish immigrants, visited the birthplace of her parents, regal Krakow. At age 17 she witnessed the change of an entire world: the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, massive pro-democracy rallies — she was even present at the fall of the Berlin Wall. “It was a fantastic period of time to be there,” she says.
Krakow remains an important touchstone for Patricia. “In a weird way,” she explains, “that’s where it all started.” She’s referring to Lis Bar, the Polish restaurant and watering hole Patricia and her husband Jonathan opened last October in Kingston’s Foxhall district (“lis” is Polish for fox).
Just as her experience transcended eras, personally and politically, Patricia is trying to showcase a different, lighter side of traditional Polish food, reflecting the “unique culinary experience” she feels has not translated to American restaurants.
Patricia crafted the menu with chef Logan Pettinato, transforming her ideas for Polish standbys into complex modern dishes. Alongside certain popular staples — think pierogis and kielbasa — she’s tried to expose patrons to many dishes unknown in America.
Those dishes include zapiekanka, a “Polish pizza” consisting of mushrooms, caramelized onions, gouda, and ketchup on top of a sourdough baguette. It’s a favorite of late-night revelers. A roasted kohlrabi dish has also proven surprisingly popular with customers.
The couple spent close to a year refurbishing their space, filling it with vintage woodwork from jackpots like Zaborski’s as well as pieces from their personal art collection. Driving down Foxhall Avenue, you might pull over to look at their striking sign, custom-made at nearby Lite Brite Neon. They want it to feel “cozy and comfortable,” as much a low-key bar as a homey restaurant.
Nothing at Lis Bar will be totally foreign to locals. Patricia remarks that the climate, geography, and even certain vegetables, like beets, rhyme between Poland and the Hudson Valley. “There are a lot of commonalities,” she explains. But there remains a certain Polish je ne sais quoi to separate the two, and keep patrons on their toes. She hopes that Lis Bar, true to its name, will outfox your expectations at every turn.
240 Foxhall Ave, Kingston, 845.514.2350