With its weathered brickwork and a long wavy bar occupying a significant chunk of the entrance, you don’t get much more casual than Bibenda. At times, actually, it’s a challenge to get further than the aforementioned bar – not just because the place gets busy, but because even when it isn’t the temptation is to simply pull up a barstool and spend the rest of the night roaring through their chalkboard choice of local craft ales. We’ve done that before. Doing so yourself is no bad thing either, so long as you remember the place is as much about food as it is anything else. ‘True food’, their menu calls it, before expanding to rattle on about ‘fresh, seasonal ingredients and home-style techniques’. Visiting ahead of the jury vote, it also means three dishes being unavailable. Not a good start, but an occupational hazard when so much emphasis is placed on ‘fresh’. As it turns out, our substitute choices are bang on the button. A potato salad with red onion and parsley: basic stuff, but delicious; next, soft duck thigh placed on top of a tangy red cabbage reduction and served with charred parsnips; and there’s dessert, a pink beetroot cake that’s gobbled in seconds. A kittenish waitress removes the empty plates, replacing them with beers, and a shaggy dog ambles forth to inspect the floor for leftovers. Warm and reassuring, Bibenda is a piece of a good news on a chill Warsaw day.