What a journey. Reaching Delicja Polska has meant near death. First, the tram I am on collides with a car – people scream and an infant flies past me. Outside, surveying the wreckage, an ambulance that’s screaming its way to an unrelated scene comes within inches of flattening me. “Ever get the idea we should have stayed at home?” asks the photographer.
By the time we enter Delicja the pair of us are ruffled. We are also aware that bad things come in threes. There is an air of nervous hesitation. It’s exacerbated by the acute feeling that we’re rather under-dressed. The photographer looks like he’s off to the beach. Me, I’m just sweating buckets, with slicks of sweat staining my shirt. But the waiter – all bow-tie and cufflinks – is a true gentleman: he doesn’t bat an eyelid.
Based on our lack of sartorial style we’d be better off outside, hugging the fringes of their terrace with other passing foreigners who’ve underestimated the ferocity of the Polish summer. We choose, however, to sit inside. I need air-con and to hell with any dirty looks I might get from other guests.
Delicja have been around for years, but it’s only recently they’ve made the move to their new location. They have gone to pains to shed the stuffy reputation that more established Polish restaurants have, and you can tell by their interiors. There’s definitely an air of the classic (our dining room looks stately with its pink bows, gilt touches and immaculate linen), but none of this feels suffocating. There’s a gloss and a shine that feels somewhat modern.
Yet it is the food that truly eases tensions. The photographer starts with sous-vide salmon marinated in beetroot leaves, then topped with horseradish foam and dill emulsion. You know it’s good just by looking at it, a suspicion that’s confirmed after the first bite. For myself, there’s goats cheese salad on a bed of greens and a peach sauce – a wonderful mix of fresh, healthy flavors. The only alarm bell is the sheer size – how will I find room for my main, I panic.
That’s easy if you order the seasoned roast beef. It is exquisite. Everything on the plate works: from the creamy potato puree to the young leeks and carrot. The lamb of my opposite number also gains approval, with the only criticism being the chanterelles: “it’s a shame such a beautiful food has been so finely cut.” Either way, we are in agreement that the restaurant is a success.
But a good meal deserves a good dessert. I’m pleased to report this is exactly what we receive next. My selection of seasonal sorbets is magnificent – nothing experimental by way of ingredients, but defined by its clear, refreshing taste and a riot of red. It’s my favorite sorbet of the summer, and that’s undisputed fact. The last word though is saved for the photographer’s meringue: it is demolished in a manner not seen before. Startled by our own greed, we exchange bashful smiles. We have dined well. Very well indeed.