Milk Bars (bar mleczny) are low-priced restaurants, which have since communist times provided cheap food at prices almost any Pole can afford. Traditionally most dishes were prior to 1990 either dairy-based, flour-based or vegetarian. Pensioners, students and the low-waged tend to form the bulk of milk-bar customers and food offered is filling rather than sophisticated fare.
Milk bars were at one time heavily subsidised by the Polish government, so prices were incredibly cheap. However, this subsidy has now been redrawn and prices have risen. Those milk bars that do survive do still offer good value for money. When we last visited one in Lubuskie a few months ago we paid less than 10 zloty (about 2 euros) for dinner, a doughnut (paczki), and a cup of tea.
Staples on the menus of many milk bars will include, tasty soups such as zurek, ogorkowa and barszcz; kopytka (potato dumplings); pierogi (filled ravioli); omlety (omelettes); golabki (filled cabbage rolls); Placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes); nalesniki (pancakes) Kotlet schabowy (pork cutlet) and bigos (hunters stew).
The menu will be advertised on a board on the wall rather than on menus on a table.