Should you believe what the real estate analysts are saying, then no other city in Europe other than London has more food halls than Warsaw.
With competition so cutthroat, it’s therefore imperative to stand out, something that Food Hall Browary have done so with style.
Occupying the lowest level of the former Haberbusch & Schiele brewery, it was in these historic cellars that beer was once stored over 150-years back. Now, following a thorough revamp masterminded by Aleksander Köffer-Likus (yep, of the same family that brought us the swanky Hotel Warszawa and the luxury Vitkac department store), the food hall at the center of it all has charmed Warsaw with its vibe and style.
There is no shortage of the latter: occupying a beautifully lit vaulted chamber, this magnificently formed space presents an offer based around a “quality over quantity” strategy. Bringing together twelve food concepts in all, find these anchored around a bar that has dared do something special…
Big, established names have been recruited to cook up a storm, but with the exception of Silk & Spicy all have chosen to present a new identity to that which you might be used to. That’s why, for instance, you’ll find the acclaimed Dziurka od Klucza team operating under the name of Octo.
But if the name differs, the quality we’ve learned to expect for them has not, and it is here you can anticipate outstanding Neapolitan pizzas dispatched directly from a wood-burning oven imported from Italy. Also from their canon, discover the squid ink pasta that first made them famous when they started out over a decade ago.
Elsewhere, also impressing is The Sushi, a unit from the hand of Alon Than, a sushi master who claimed the 2015 World Sushi Champion title at Tokyo’s World Sushi Cup. Arguably the most influential sushi guru working in Poland, Than’s precision and innovation breathes new life into a culinary sector that has at times felt tired and one-dimensional.
There’s only so much you can eat on one visit, but do make room for Viet Nem. Created by Linh Nguyen, she’s revolutionized Warsaw’s gastro scene by launching venue after venue specializing in different Asian cuisines.
In this case, that means the food of her native Vietnam with the succinct menu showcasing generous bowls of pho slow-cooked with beef bones for ten-hours; crispy pancakes stuffed with shrimps and pork belly; noodle salads; and crunchy spring rolls. Aromatic and hopelessly addictive, it’s impossible not to fall in love.
… And Sips
The Central Bar dominates in more ways than one. Headed by Karim Bibars, he’s carved a name as one of the biggest talents in the world of Polish cocktails. Presenting what he describes as “neo-classical cocktails based on homemade syrups and purees,” Bibars has crafted a compact but versatile menu that suits the mood and the food. “We’re less old school,” he says, “drinks should be fun, after all.”
That much is apparent through options that hark back to summer such as the passionfruit sour. “Polish winter is depressing,” says Bibars, “so you always need to have some summer memories to remind yourself of what lies ahead.”
Modern and easygoing, it’s a bar that does more than nail its brief. “Yes, we’re high volume,” says Bibars, “but whereas many such bars lack quality we’ve employed a bit of a different approach to planning and organizing so as to avoid that. Quality is not sacrificed.”
The philosophy has reaped rewards, painting a just reflection not just on the skills of Bibars & Co., but also Poland as a whole.
“Ten years back we didn’t have access to the spirits,” he says, “but product availability has improved beyond measure as have the bartenders themselves. You no longer have to be overly serious to create seriously good drinks and I think the Central Bar shows that.” We would agree.
Food Hall Browary
ul. Grzybowska 58, website