Free from the cliches we’ve been drip-fed by Warsaw’s Italian restaurants, Le Braci offer a fresh insight into true Italian dining…
Ask just about anyone in the food industry what the most important thing a restaurant should strive for and you’ll hear the same answer given in parrot-like fashion: consistency.
Where that’s concerned The Ferment Group have hit gold ever since they first grabbed Warsaw by the goolies to give us Butchery & Wine in 2011. In the ten years that have followed, more concepts have been rolled-out, including and not limited to Kieliszki na Próżnej and the Insider’s reigning Restaurant of the Year, Rozbrat 20.
Now along comes their latest offering, an Italian joint that seeks to show ‘the real Italy’. Employing chef Przemysław Samul to do so, his experience in some of Europe’s top kitchens is an early suggestion of the quality ahead.
Haven’t I Been Here Before?
If you like food, yes. Prior to its rebirth as Le Braci, this address was home to one of the Ferment Group’s original babies: Brasserie Warszawska.
Presenting itself as a Parisian-style brasserie, it was here that big shots would gather to lap up oysters or foie gras inside an interior heavy with mirrors, brass and leather.
Everything. And we mean, everything. In place of the old-fashioned and slightly masculine style of its predecessor, Le Braci has a cool vitality that feels seductive and cliché-free.
Designed by Kacper Gronkiewicz, you enter to be greeted by an installation featuring a tower of assorted ceramic waste before turning left into a long, narrow room decorated in rich and soothing forest shades.
Evoking images of starry nights, the lighting casts a pleasing glow on a dining area whose statement piece is a beautifully backlit bar whose soft clay and teal colors are counterbalanced by jagged white shapes. Visually, you’ll love it.
Having undertaken an interior revolution you get the idea that the Ferment Group have tried to move past the address’s previous reputation as a rather formal expense account haunt.
But there’s no changing the location – positioned next to the parliament building, and just a rattle away from Embassy Row, the afternoon clientele remain much the same: male, powerful and engaged in hushed conversations.
It says much then for the professionalism of the staff that the Insider team, arriving in trainers and crumpled shirts, found themselves treated with the same diligence and attention given to other diners – it took minutes for initial paranoia to fade into enjoyment.
Speaking of enjoyment, that gathers pace the moment the drinks land. A masterfully fixed negroni is all that it should be: clean, bitter and big on zing. One more please! Of their other aperitivos, look for the Bellini and cherry Amaretto. It should go without saying that wine is taken seriously.
On The Plate
For light lunches and dinners, the menu presents a series of cicchetti – small starter plates that introduce nibbly bits of Italy: ‘fennel and lemon jam’, ‘eggplant, zucchini and ricotta’, etc.
Showcasing Italy’s sophisticated style as opposed to the simple side we tend to be shown in Warsaw, starters kick things off with carefully composed tuna tartare (zl. 46) before hitting new heights with the homemade pasta and risotto (zl. 54).
It’s the latter we go for, a creamy, thick porcini risotto with chestnuts. There’s a beauty to it that’s beaten only by the next dish, a beef fillet with raisins, pine nuts and shallots (zl. 96). Demolished with almost embarrassing gusto, it’s immediately installed as the Insider’s favorite main course of 2021. As for dessert, we keep it simple – a trio of sorbets (zl. 22) that punch with fruity flavor. All through this lunch, there has not been one little misstep. It’s a triumph.
The Ferment Group have started to really annoy me – they make perfect look so effortless and easy. Of course it isn’t, and you realize that they’ve just become expertly accomplished in everything they do. For that they don’t just demand your custom, but your respect as well.
Górnośląska 24, lebraci.pl