It’s as if the end of the world has visited Warsaw. Within seconds the skies darken to the color of pitch and the wind starts to whistle. When the rain arrives, it does so in unrelenting solid sheets of water. Thunder roars and tree branches fly past the window. As storms go, this one is as angry as they come. Such is the ferocity of this meteorological interlude we inch away from the glass lest a traffic bollard comes crashing through it. “Someone out there,” announces the photographer gravely, “is going to regret today ever happened.” Our table nods as one. For all that, we know it won’t be us. And if, by some fluke of fate, we are wiped out by a bolt of lightning, at least we’ know we’d die happy.
The cause of our high spirits is Mokotowska 69, an address that, until recently, housed the ailing Adler restaurant. Set inside a rotunda at the tail end of the street, it’s a place that exudes elegance and class: swept in shadow, the new tenant presents itself in a flurry of brickwork and wood. Hushed and intimate, it’s a restaurant for businessmen to connive and couples to court. Most of all, however, it’s a restaurant to be enjoyed.
Brought to you by the same team credited for Merliniego 5, Mokotowska’s appreciation of steak has been lifted from their elder sister by way of a meat menu that includes the highest grade of beef in the world. Yet the virtues of this restaurant extend beyond steak alone, and that much is clear right from the beginning.
From the start we are treated to a volley of greats: breaded calf brains with a consistency so creamy that for a moment I forget that I’m actually eating a brain. Steak tartare and filet mignon carpaccio equally impress, though where starters are concerned there’s two outright triumphs: a sophisticated smoked eel on potato and pumpkin blinis, and Mazurian crayfish served in a sauce of rowan berry and brandy – deep and joyous, it’s a dish of true greatness.
It’s at this point the heavens open, venting their full fury on Warsaw down below. Ensconced from the deluge, we’ve found our own piece of heaven: for mains, our table wrestles over a roasted duck that wins rave reviews. Cooked in a reduction of honey, apple juice and white vinegar, so crackly is the skin we summon the chef to learn how he does it. What scraps remain are bitterly fought over by those seated at our table.
Likewise, the scene repeats itself with lamb sourced from the mountains of Biesczady. Declared ‘the perfect rack’, the pink meaty goodness is devoured until all that is left are bones and debris. With the rain still drumming down, we have no choice but to continue this epic feast. Napoleon Cake is shared for dessert and it vanishes within minutes. Crisp and creamy, this multi-layered sweet is hailed the perfect finish and a fitting conclusion to a memorable lunch. (Alex Webber)
ul. Mokotowska 69, mokotowska69.com