The most spectacular meal of our year, there can be no surprises that it was Nuta that swagged our award for Warsaw’s Best Restaurant…
Nuta isn’t so much about the restaurant as it is the man in the kitchen. Who is he? Step forward Andrea Camastra. Raised in Bari, Andrea Camastra’s visionary approach to cooking saw him claim his first Michelin star in 2016 for his Warsaw fine dining venue, Senses.
Singled out by Hervé This (one of the founding fathers of molecular gastronomy) as the natural successor to Ferran Adrià, Camastra later found himself inducted into Le Chef’s rundown of the world’s top 100 chefs. Commonly understood to be the biggest gastronomic talent working in Poland, his new restaurant Nuta has stunned all ever since debuting at the start of the year.
Now, Camastra’s previous gaffe, Senses, did have the capacity to intimidate: just entering meant walking down a red-carpeted flame-lit corridor that had you thinking you were attending the Oscars. Plush and painfully posh, it wasn’t a place for the casual interloper. Nuta, on the other hand, is far more accessible in its style and spirit.
This openness is emphasized by the vast floor-to-ceiling windows and a design that feels sophisticated but never ceremonial.
As for the food, this is where it gets even more interesting. Celebrated for his creative use of science, Camastra was previously hailed for his note-by-note philosophy, an artistic process that saw him extract flavor molecules from some foods before adding them to others.
Things have changed, and at Nuta he is keen to push his artisanal credentials. “Anyone can learn science,” he says, “but using artisanal methods takes real skill.”
Despite eyewatering offers from abroad, never did Camastra consider leaving Poland when Senses found itself guillotined by Covid. “Why would I,” he shrugs, “I love this country.”
This much is apparent via a menu that has sought to celebrate his newfound life in Warsaw. Of course, there are cheeky references to Italy (the mini pizza, for instance, which mixes Tuscan and Neapolitan styles and is enjoyed with garlic foam), but these are outweighed by the heavy Polski slant.
Take the chłodnik as an example, a dish made with fermented beetroot juice and served in a chilled gazpacho style with 12-year-old balsamic vinegar, goat cheese foam and a fresh hit of horse radish ice cream.
Next, sea trout that’s been barely cooked and served with sour cucumber gazpacho, daikon pickle, compressed cucumber, mustard ice cream and a miso leaf wheel. Locally-caught we’re told the fish is, but such is its texture that it could have been sent from heaven.
And from there, the going gets even better. Nordic sea mackerel comes with a Polish teriyaki glaze (sour cucumber and sour cabbage juice) and a broth of alium to represent the onion and garlic family.
But the biggest win of the night comes from the duck, a beautifully cooked bird in a sauce of such oomph that it might knock you sideways. “It gives a real upper cut,” says the chef, and he’s completely right.
A world class experience, Nuta has no peer. Aimed at people that want to enjoy the very best that life has to offer, the financial trade-off made by dining here is definitely worthwhile. Extraordinary in every respect, Nuta is a place where the impossible happens. A complex odyssey that engages every pleasure receptacle in the human body, it is absolutely unthinkable that anyone can leave without being staggered by the quality.
Camastra himself says he’s no longer chasing Michelin stars, and that’s principally because he knows they will arrive regardless of his goals – and yes, interpret that not as a sign of arrogance but for what it really is: a statement of fact.
Pl. Trzech Krzyży 10/14