At Modern Luxury, connection and community define who we are. We use cookies to improve the Modern Luxury experience - to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. We also may share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. We take your privacy seriously and want you to be aware that we have recently made changes to our Privacy Policy, which can be found here.


A Knish Like Your Hungarian Grandma Would've Made

Sara Deseran | August 20, 2013 | Story Restaurants

"People have told me that some of my cakes remind them of their Romanian mom or Hungarian grandmother,” says Michelle Polzine, a former Range pastry chef who opened 20th Century Café in Hayes Valley this summer. Despite having no roots in Central Europe to lay claim to, Polzine is channeling the traditions of cities there that she’s fallen for: Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. “I feel like this food just comes out of me,” she says. “I know that sounds a little hokey.”

We’ll take hokey if it results in a cake made of countless thin layers soaked in a cloud of honey-cream frosting. That, and Polzine’s housemade ice creams served in Depression glass bowls—not to mention her knish, an addictive and buttery humble brag of sweet onions and potatoes. Just because everything at the café— from the counter wrapped in metallic tiles to the green linoleum floors to Polzine herself, who dresses in vintage from head to toe—is grounded in nostalgia doesn’t mean that there aren’t hints of 2013: After all, that honey cake is named the Krasinski Törtchen after one of the café’s Kickstarter patrons. 198 Gough St. (at Oak St.), 415-621-2380

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of San Francisco

Have feedback? Email us at
Email Sara Deseran at
Follow us on Twitter
Follow Sara Deseran on Twitter


Photography by: