I have just come back from a long weekend in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, I was invited by Warsaw Tourist Office to experience the food scene and, in specific, Restaurant Week. What is Restaurant Week? A culinary festival where a selection of the best restaurants in Poland offers a three-course meal for 39 zt (8 pounds), not including drinks. It is a organised by a group of culinary and gastronomical enthusiasts, it takes place in over 20 cities in Poland aiming to celebrate the food culture in each city, to encourage people to explore the restaurants in their cities and promote Poland as a destination for food lovers (and who doesnt love good food?).
How does it work? Bookings for each restaurant open on the website a couple of weeks before the festival starts, there one can see the set menu offered by each restaurant and select date and time of the visit.
This was the 11th edition of Restaurant Week Festival, it started in 2014 as a weekend event inspired by a trip of one of the founders to Copenhagen, what started as a weekend event is now a 10 days festival taking place twice a year. Every year many restaurants will apply to be part of it, however to be selected they must meet certain standards: the most important thing being the food quality, then service, vibrant atmosphere, the restaurant needs be offering an interesting experience. Every new restaurant is assessed on these criteria before being added to the line up.
Last edition sold 77,000 tickets, in this edition just finished 90,000 tickets has been sold. During my stay I visited 4 of the many restaurants taking part.
Lunch on my first day was at Rozbrat 20.
This cosy restaurant, located near Łazienki Park, is well- known for its delicious bread and usually quite buys at weekends as it is a popular brunch spot of the neighbourhood.
What we ate:
- Mackerel / cucumber / radish / spawn
- Chicken / carrot / chorizo / cipollini (super tasty)
- Custard Tart which was paired with desert wine
Every dish was beautifully presented, nearly too pretty to eat, nearly. All the flavours worked perfectly together, this is a place not to be missed when in Warsaw: faultless service and superb fresh food.
Dinner was at Elixir by Dom Wódki near the Opera.
This was not just dinner, but a truly unique experience, every course was paired with one of their vodkas- they have over 500 from around Poland and other countries.
The restaurant itself features Polish classics with a creative spin and presented with a "food pairing" system which recommends specific vodkas to complement the ingredients and flavours of each dish. This restaurant is is unique of its kind in Warsaw and won't disappoint.
What we ate:
- Herring served on a mousse of roast beets, with smoked Oscypek cheese, apple, lemon mayonnaise, dill pickled cucumber from Hajnówka and apple caviar. This was paired with young potato vodka.
- Pork knuckle served with cabbage braised in white wine with caraway and cream, potato dumplings, mustard seed sauce and mustard ice-cream paired with Belvedere vodka, super strong vodka. This vodka meets the following requirements: it is produced in Poland, it has at least 37% of alcohol with no added sugar or honey.
- Meringue served with nut cream, pear compressed in spirit, chocolate powder and nuts in toffee paired with chocolate and coffee vodka.
Overall, I had a great evening and this was contributed by the impeccable service- our waiter was very knowledagble especially about the vodka- and superb food. This place is very innovative and you can enjoy Polish comfort food with a twist.
Lunch at Weranda Bistro
On my second day in Warsaw, we had lunch at Weranda Bistro, which is part of the Weranda Family- established 15 years ago. The name is inspired by an old, country-side house and its veranda, they called their first place in Poznan, Weranda caffe.
The Weranda Bistro is located in Hala Koszyki. The ‘Koszyki’ market hall, commonly known as the ‘People’s bazaar’ was built in 1906-1908. Hala Koszyki is the first and the only place of its kind in whole Poland, opened in. autumn 2016, it came back to life as Warsaw’s social and culinary centre with its many restaurants.
What we ate:
- Fried duck egg with pancetta, asparagus and passion fruit
- Red mullet fillet with fruit and lentils
- Bloody Panna cotta with truffle
I truly enjoy lunch and found the place very charming, this is the kind of restaurant I would love to have in London and visit with friends.
Dinner at Rico's concept
Another restaurant located in a building with an interesting history. Rico's concept is a new Chinese restaurant at Krakowskie Przedmiescie and it is located in the old bathhouse called "under Messalka". This restaurant is a huge space with several rooms, you can even dine in a room with a swimming pool, which is quite impressive, and also has a tea room.
What we ate:
- tofu soup with seasonal vegetables
- rice with aubergines
- matcha cake
We finished our meal with some tea (green and red) and I have to admit the food didn't stand out for me, as I had a high expectations from such a grand venue.
Dates for your diary if you wish to plan your visit to Warsaw: next edition of Restaurant Week will be in October- 20th till 29th October, there will also be a Fine Dining Week in August with restaurants offering 5 courses meal and aims to showcase the higher end of Warsaw's restaurant scene.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Warsaw tourist office. All opinions are my own.