Created from the ashes of Chłodna 25, a cult café and cultural powerhouse closed due to its “disruptive” activities, Bar Studio is somewhat a continuation of the endeavor and somewhat not. Undoubtedly, the interiors are much more polished, located in the couloirs of the Palace of Culture and Science. The ascetic, modern décor is intentional – both not to compete with the fine adornment of the original walls and to break through the building’s grandiose airs. As you might recall, the Palace of Culture was a gift from the Soviet regime back in the day but remains an eyesore and unpleasant memory for many native Varsovians. The terrace area, tempting for me because of its couches and blankets, is the prime location to look on, or rather look up from below, this colossus. I, quite unpatriotically, liked that. And yes, it really is hard not to be overawed by the sheer gigantism of the Palace that looms above – and more so now, as its tower disappears in those first autumn mists.
Bar Studio, just like Chlodna 25, is more than just a place to have coffee or a small bite to eat. It seamlessly slips from breakfast bar and café during the day into its more culturally active persona in the evenings, complete with a cocktail bar, concerts, film screenings, plays and political discussions – it can get intense, heated and seriously cerebral. Even though another wing of the Palace has been housing the Kinoteka cinema with its own café for a while, Studio is not an attempt to dethrone them but rather compliment their activities. Food-wise, Bar Studio makes it clear that it’s also an independent establishment, not necessarily tied to what’s going on in the theatre next door. There was a worry, when this place opened, that is location would leave Bar Studio somewhat stranded and shipwrecked in the concrete center. Those fears have been ill-founded. (KK)