Talk of Praga’s revival feels a bit more serious now that Bistro Pod Sowami has opened. From the outside, this corner tenement is a study in neo-gothic indulgence. On the inside, the muted elegance is perfectly partnered by the cooking of Damian Wajda. The 15-course menu is a barrage of complex, telescopic-sized plates that present pre-war dishes as seen through a colorful, modern lens.
ul. Okrzei 26, fb.com/bistropodsowami
Few chefs have done more to rehabilitate Poland’s culinary reputation than Andrzej Polan – a crusader for seasonal tastes and regional produce, his is a menu that gives mundane sounding ingredients new impetus: you’ve had herring before, just not like this. Hell, even the humble dumpling is given an overdue makeover. Looking warm and woodsy, this super small restaurant has emerged to become a major figure on the national restaurant scene.
ul. Belwederska 13/44, polanasmakow.pl
Set on the corner of an ornate pre-war building, Kieliszki casts a warm, beckoning glow on the street outside – resisting its charms is entirely impossible. The cooking is just as seductive and sees Polish mainstays such as dumplings, tartare and herring given a 21st century update. Superb wines, all of which are available by the glass, round out the experience.
ul. Hoża 41, kieliszkinahozej.pl
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A sanctuary of elegant fancy, it’s a place of long, dark shadows and discreet decorative touches: from the outset, you’re made to feel that good things will happen, and this they do. Certified by Poland’s fledgling slow food movement, the menu gives star billing to the suppliers that keep the pantry full; but the truth is these aren’t the only heroes. There since the Bear’s inception, Wojciech Deres has grown in stature and skill preparing a daily tinkered menu that opens eyes to the real tastes of Poland.
ul. Smolna 4, kafezn.pl
Radical yet blindingly straight forward, that was the idea behind Bez Gwiazdek. “Looking at the fine dining restaurants around town,” says Robert Trzópek, “I realized that they all had the same sort of menu, the same ingredients and the same high prices. So instead of creating another restaurant like that, I had a look at what my chef friends from abroad were doing. All of them were retreating back to something much more normal and just concentrating on serving good food at decent prices.” It sounds simple, but while Bez Gwiazdek rejects the core principles of fine dining, don’t for one minute expect anything less than food that whispers refined sophistication. Focusing each month on a different region of the country, Trzópek’s tasting menu takes diners to the very heart of the Polish soul and does so via tastes that betray his fine dining background: delicate and precise, it’s the polar opposite of the standard Polski feast. Just when you thought you had worked out the nation’s cuisine, along comes Robert Trzópek to rewrite the rules.
ul. Wiślana 8, bezgwiazdek.pl