When the Insider first visited at the start of last year, Kanapa was described by our reviewer as ‘a thoughtful essay in understated elegance: antique and classy, yet with enough eclectic touches to add that little sense of home.’ It remains just so, with a swirling staircase connecting the different levels inside this grand pre-war villa, and a lush green garden stealing the show in summer.
Forego the borsch at your peril. Landing on the table inside a big, hollow cabbage, find chunks of meat and stewed pears and plums bobbing in an invigorating beetroot broth that comes with a big whack of sour cream. It’s as good now as it is in winter, but to stay seasonal then the chłodnik, poured table-side from a bottle, is a cooling alternative that’s refreshing, light and just right for summer. Ukraine’s answer to Poland’s pierogi are varenyky, and here the extensive choice includes ‘black dumplings with smoked mackerel’ to more expected options such as strawberry dumplings. Both need a danger tag, for they are seriously addictive. For the main event, then rest assured that meat is something that they’ve mastered. For the Insider, that meant leg of lamb and beef steak, both served in a rich port wine sauce.
Unexpected twists dominate, and in summer that means debuts for a green pea guacamole that’s both verdant and creamy, and a celery-cucumber salad crowned with crayfish meat and drizzled in lemon-egg sauce. Zingy and deliciously more-ish, it’s further proof of a chef exploring the boundaries of his national cuisine.
Prepare to be…
Surprised! Kanapa’s principal skill lies in its reimagining of a cuisine that many assume to be lumpy, stolid and barren of ideas. Not so. Here, the Ukrainian kitchen becomes a laboratory of experimentation and unexpected twists: edible candles made from butter; velvety chicken-duck-carrot pate served from a can; spheres of carp in carrot glaze and cider jelly; and an array of Ukrainian wines and spirits to add kick to the evening. Though built on tradition, it’s a menu and restaurant that seeks to view Ukraine through a fresh set of eyes; and in this it succeeds, and in brilliant style.
Kanapa ul. Narbutta 10, fb.com/kanapa.restauracja