Set on a residential side street, and accessed round a back garden, Wootwórnia feels like a private little secret – you get the sensation not of visiting a restaurant, but of visiting a friend. Of course, a lot of places claim to have a ‘garden’, but what they actually mean is a stretch of concrete with a couple of Żywiec branded parasols. At Wootwórnia though, the garden actually is a garden: one with a trampoline, a shed and a black and white cat snooping in the bushes. The whole scene reminds you of home. Inside, it’s equally engaging. The place is small and intimate, with a blackboard menu and shelves built from upcycled crates. The colors are neutral and subtle, while floor-to-ceiling windows allow for the watery, winter sunlight to slant through the glass and cast a warm glow.
Yet the dominant element is the counter – it’s here co-owner Agnes Woo showcases her stock of homemade preserves (e.g. carrot chutney with ginger), not to mention own-baked cakes and imported drinks from the Juiceology brand. As the clues suggest, Wootwórnia place significance on ‘natural’ and ‘organic’. Sourcing ingredients from small-scale local farms, here is a menu designed to nourish the soul. And it does just that.
I start with a tomato soup (zł. 12), its thick warming flavors enriched by hints of orange, aniseed and cinnamon. Forget soup of the day, this is my soup of the year – I speak only to repeat the words, “my God, it’s amazing”. My one complaint: a humble hunk of bread could have made it even better. After such an impressive opening salvo, the main event has a lot to aspire to. Waiting time is a little drawn-out, but here’s a place where you don’t really mind. Sitting window-side, we bask in the sunlight while following the movements of the prowling cat – we’re in no hurry and life feels good. When the mains do finally make it out, we recognize them for what they are: a labor of love.
For me it’s a duck confit served with chicory, lentils and a sprinkle of pomegranate (zł. 37). The duck’s skin is crisp and well-browned, while below the meat is tender and surprisingly moist. It feels good, though the serving is possibly too much – I want to try the partner’s lamb with carrot puree (zł. 45), but my body refuses. Instead, I settle for hearing all about it: words like ‘fabulous’ are liberally used.
With that, we’re ready to go – but as I order the bill the owner slides an ace out of his sleeve: “maybe you want to try our cheesecake – we made it yesterday.” It’s a sly, sneaky sucker punch of a sales pitch: and, of course, it works. Surrendering to greed, we settle back into our chairs and loosen the belt. Dessert is a delight: rich, fluffy and a true slice of pleasure. Much like the other dishes we’ve tried, it’s straight and simple, yet there’s a real magic in evidence: this is ‘food from the heart’. As a final act, it doesn’t get much better. (AW)