At Syty Chmiel, it’s not just the beer that elevates this newbie to Warsaw’s attention…
Left largely to fend for itself during the lockdowns, Poland’s craft beer sector has struggled to adjust to the new reality since the easing of restrictions, and that much has been evidenced by the rising number of bars and breweries exiting the artisan segment.
Even so, as some fall by the wayside, their numbers are being replenished by ambitious newbies stepping up to rise to the challenges of the times – and in that respect, consider Syty Chmiel as one such example.
Where Are You?
Visit Syty Chmiel and you’ll find yourself on that odd track of no-man’s land running between Pl. Zbawiciela and Pl. Unii Lubelskiej. Visually presenting itself as an Orwellian wilderness of Soviet era stone and concrete, for the last five-years this precise address fronted Chmielarnia Marszałkowska, a pub with an identity crisis.
Though loved by many (us included), you were never quite sure what they wanted to be: a multi-tap bar or an Indian restaurant? At times, you got the idea they weren’t even sure themselves.
To The Present
If the previous incumbent felt a little incoherent, the new tenant has redressed those faults via design that feels entirely whole and befitting of the overall place. Entering, visitors walk first past a long bar before happening upon two side large side rooms.
Before, these two chambers felt like a hollow and forgotten afterthought. Now, they’ve been absorbed into the rest of the concept thanks to an interior rethink that has seen the adoption of a dark, forest green color scheme, as well as the addition of numerous pot plants.
Though undeniably large, intimacy isn’t short in supply, and that’s down to the addition of comfortable armchairs, framed pictures, atmospheric lo-lighting and some personal trinkets to reflect the passions of the owners (skateboards, for instance).
All in all, despite its copiously large footprint, Syty Chmiel has a warmth to it that causes visitors to settle in for a long night ahead.
Drinks first, and Syty Chmiel picks up the gauntlet thrown down by Chmielarnia to make full use of the long, long bar left behind.
There’s twelve taps in total, and these offer a regular rotating offer of local craft goodness: on our visit, that meant a healthy balance between the on-trend and weird (e.g. Splash Red, a double-fruited pomegranate and blackcurrant gose) to easy-drinking Czech classics such as Primator weizen.
And big points to the fridge: too many tap bars hide their bottled and canned glories in impossibly-located fridges that can only be viewed by those wearing x-ray specs. Here, find them in open view right next to the bar.
It’s not just about the drinks, either. Better-known as Pan Tasak, co-owner Wit Szychowski has devised a menu that makes a mockery of those found in the city’s other craft pubs.
Whilst some competitors have increasingly awarded prominence to their food, none have raised the bar so much as Syty Chmiel.
A celebration of Poland’s rural greatness, Pan Tasak’s menu is divided into small bowls (e.g. white sausage with sour rye four sauce and fried onions) and big bowls (e.g. blood sausage pancakes with caramelized apples) and also features buns cascading with smoked goat cheese, spring cabbage and grain mustard.
Hearty yet surprisingly sophisticated in its presentation and tastes, this is the kind of food befitting of the sound of clinking glasses.
Marszałkowska 10/16, web
(Photos: Kevin Demaria)