Good bye 2013 – definitely the most magnificent year in Warsaw’s gastronomic history. Over the course of the previous twelve months I’ve been spoiled something rotten: from fantastic fine dining to brilliant food trucks. And in between that, we’ve had some ace ethnic newbies and a general movement towards nature. So yes, I’m one happy man.
In fact, where Warsaw is concerned, I can count the bad meals I had in the last year on one finger. Unfortunately for me, that bad meal was the final one of 2013. To cut a long story short, I found myself at Central Station on New Year’s Eve, all bagged up and ready to jump on a train to Poznań. But before setting off on such an intrepid journey, I needed food. Against my better judgment, I decided to get something from Złote Tarasy – namely, Złota Kaczk-arrrrrgh…
Forget that you’re eating in the basement of a shopping mall, Złota Kaczka’s main enemy is their kitchen – and what comes out of it. I hadn’t expected much, and a timid voice in my head did warn me about what lay in store. Stupidly, I chose to ignore it. In part, this was down to the prices. They were medium-to-high, leading me to mistakenly believe the place might be good: “They’re not going to charge zł. 80 for prison food,” I reasoned.
With a tight schedule in mind, we only had time for mains: for the Mrs, that meant ‘pork with potato dumplings and beetroot’. Appearing on a page featuring the chef’s recommendations, her hopes were high – they were dashed immediately. “Readymade dumplings, possibly frozen,” she sniffed, “and the sauce tastes like it came from a packet.” Worse was to come with the meat, which according to her was chewy and over-salted. “If this is what the chef recommends,” she deadpanned, “I’d hate to try what he doesn’t.”
That duty fell to me. With a bold price of zł. 79, I assumed the beef fillet would be a safe choice. In recent times I’ve had boss beef in both Muu Muu and Hoża by Mondovino for less. And to really put matters into perspective, Nolita charge about zł. 20 more for the most extraordinary beef fillet you’ll find in the country. Złota Kaczka’s, however, is in a different league – a league so lowly you didn’t think such standards would be legal.
I had asked for medium rare, what I received was well-done. Actually, I’d just call it very badly done: a grey hunk of meat served in a gloopy grey sauce. Had I been blindfolded, I wouldn’t have identified what I was eating. At a push, I would have guessed road kill. Removing the half-touched mess from the table, I could gauge an acute sense of embarrassment on behalf of the server. In situations like this, you feel sorry for them – is it their fault that the restaurant is so wrong. Of course not, but not let’s not beat around the bush, Złota Kaczka is wrong on every level. Dare I give it a mark? Zero would be generous.
(Words and Photos: Alex Webber)
Złota Kaczka ul. Złota 59 (Złote Tarasy shopping mall)