I used to work with an editor in New York who told me that she had a rotation of local restaurants she would visit each night after work since she hated to cook (even though we worked together on a food magazine). I remember asking her if she felt awkward going to restaurants by herself and she gleefully told me – as if sharing a secret – that she only visited places where she could eat alone at the bar.
Over the years since then, I have discovered that I too like the solitary pleasure of dining alone. I like the causal banter with the bartender, not to mention sitting perched over a menagerie of people interacting over food. While this might be an obvious observation to any French person who grew up with a local bistro on their corner, it’s not so obvious here in Warsaw. It was, however, an obvious decision for Bibenda. With the bar taking center stage from the moment you enter, you might not even consider it a restaurant at all.
But where a pleasant night is concerned, they do everything right: a good meal, a friendly face and something delicious to drink. One typical example of this is my last trip, which consisted of sizzling merguez sausages and market vegetables served on top of a puree of roasted red onion, blackcurrant and chipotle – all washed down with a crisp and hoppy Artezan IPA. Immensely satisfying, it was the kind of dish you want to cook at home, or speak to the chef and decipher the secrets of his technique. And sure, sitting at the bar, you can do just that – providing you have the courage to speak-up and polish your Polish. (Kevin Demaria)