You’ve got to ask, was there a strategy involved when picking this location, or was it decided by throwing a dart at a map? Honestly, I’d bet on the latter. But I like this seemingly indiscriminate positioning on the distant borderlands of Żoliborz. It shows a confidence to say, “we won’t come to them, let them come to us.” Importantly, this confidence is not misplaced.
Found in one of those trendy refurbished post-industrial spots, this former factory is now clad in the logos of the resident media and design studios. Walking around you can feel an almost brassy swagger and assurance in the air, making Duchnicka Food & Wine an organic addition to this reinvented complex.
As someone with quaint and English views regarding courtesy and etiquette, I don’t like being kept waiting or made to feel like the invisible man, so it’s a blessing to find guests are afforded the full red carpet treatment the moment they enter. But it’s apparent that attitude is not the only international aspect to this place. The wine store that presents itself on crossing the threshold is extraordinary in options, with a choice of 700 world wines personally selected by the revered sommelier Rafał Kiś.
Careful not to send the bottles crashing we move into the attached restaurant – there’ll be time for browsing the wine later. With its dark woods and crimson flourishes the place could feel heavy and overwhelming were it not for one key detail: the open kitchen. It’s an element that’s integral to completing the space and lending it an anchor. It’s also the key to fostering a sense of connection between guests and personnel – at one stage a diner walks over to quiz the chefs on ingredients and technique before congratulating them all on a job well done. With our food yet to arrive, this is good news to hear.
The cappuccino soup has been a signature of this venue since the early days, and this petite mushroom tinged shot remains a must-have to ‘open the appetite’. And you’ll certainly want to do that when faced with the succinct choice of meaty mains: rack of lamb, New Zealand veal shank and Argentine rib-eye. And that’s when it all makes sense: ticking the boxes marked atmosphere, food and wine, it becomes easy to see why Duchnicka’s map coordinates don’t really matter.