Tag Archives: restaurant

The New Taste in Town – Closing Down

I’ve got a great idea for a new restaurant. It’s going to be a fusion experiment, a Caribbean-Lebanese-Indian mix. The decor will be flash and luxurious, with wall-to-wall Persian rugs, sitar music piped in and there will be light displays to dazzle even the most world-weary. The cuisine will be fresh, innovative and tasty. And yet… it will probably be out of business within 9 months.

In the three years that I have lived in Poland, I have noticed a theme which is developing when considering restaurants. There seem to be two options when it comes to eat-out cuisine in Poland, option A being Polish-Italian options, either individually or together, while option B covers most other types of food. The pattern I have noticed is that if there are interesting options available with the B grouping, they tend to close quite quickly and go out of business. A few examples I have seen personally are listed below:

Bye-bye Thai

There once was a Thai restaurant quite close to the centre of Kraków. It had great food, cheap prices and a simple style. It even had a clever memorable name – Thaisty, although it could be argued if enough people would be able to ‘get’ the name. With people of Thai nationality working there, there was an authenticity in the menu, while it’s location allowed a steady clientele of students and other passers-by. And then in the blink of an eye, it had closed down leaving an empty shell behind.

Thai-Lite

A friend of mine recommended another Thai restaurant about 6 months ago. All signs were promising – while being located in a small building meaning there were few chairs and tables within, it also gave a cosy feel and allowed for the possibility to be close enough to see the food being prepared. As with the previous Thai restaurant, there were Thai nationals working there, with signs that the Polish owner was married to a Thai woman. During my first visit there, I could see the owner preparing the food behind the counter, while consulting with Thai employees as to how spicy the food should be. However, that seemed to be the high point – since then the depth of the menu has shrunken massively. Originally, there was a huge variety of dishes with various levels of spiciness and ingenuity involved. However, this has since adapted, possibly to meet the demands of Polish taste buds. The menu now is much simpler with less available. It seems like it will be only be a matter of time before pizza, pasta and pierogi are introduced to the menu.

Back to Bombay

Indian cuisine is naturally prevalent in the British Isles and rightly popular as a result. However, once the white cliffs of Dover fade from view, Indian food tends to be a bit more difficult to find. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to find a newly opened Indian restaurant within one of the underground caverns under Kraków’s streets. My first visit was on New Years Eve a few hours before the clock hit midnight. With a number of Indian waiters serving and offering us their best champagne, the service was excellent. I also found it was a recommendation of sorts to find an Indian family also eating there. The mango lassi drinks were refreshing and the curry I ordered tasted great. The first visit lead to a second and third. Then I returned the recommendation to my friend (mentioned earlier) and he called to make a reservation, only to find that they had closed for refurbishment “for an indefinite period”. It has since not reopened in the 4 months since getting that message.

Warsaw Wah-wah

The final occurrence which summarised my concern of such restaurants closing was during a visit to Warsaw a few months ago. Having seen many words of praise for the Fish and Chips restaurant in Warsaw, including on Wa-wa Jeziorki, I resolved to make a visit myself. However, it was further disappointment, as it turned out that the restaurant had closed, at least to the general public, as there seemed to be some wholesale options available. But it meant that I could not get to sample the best of British.

During this visit, I also had a short trip around town with Ian, and he showed one or two restaurant options, including Butchery & Wine, and some sushi options. It was telling though that he recommended an Asian restaurant called Lemongrass and as we drove by he realised that it too had closed, and even had a letter missing from the wording across the signage.

The End – Closing Down

I have taken it upon myself to work on visiting restaurants which are interesting and new, and as well as trying to make recommendations to friends and acquaintances, also inviting them along. I guess that many restaurants over-stretch and aim too big initially, leading to losses they cannot recover from. Supposedly, 30% of business fail within the first year, with 80% of small and medium businesses folding within 5 years. The restaurant industry can be notoriously difficult to break into (unless your surname is Gessler), so I guess further failure is to be expected. We can only hope further taste options will pop up to replace them.

Tagged , , , ,

The oldest restaurant in Europe?

Wrocław has a long and storied history, with its location meaning that it has passed through various ‘ownership’ throughout the centuries, including German, Prussian, Austrian and Polish settlement. Thus it is no surprise to find a restaurant there which has seen many of the moments in history. Piwnica Swidnicka is located at the very heart of Wrocław, with its address being Rynek Ratusz 1. Thus it actually is part of the Ratusz (town hall) building in Wrocław, as it is found in the caverns underneath the Ratusz itself.

“Here beats the heart of Wrocław”

As you can tell from the Piwnica name, it also is a brewery as well as a restaurant, so you can get a flavour of Wrocław as well as a taste for the food. The underground caverns are divided into 4 main areas – two of them are designed in more ‘medieval Polish’ ways with long benches, old-fashioned swinging chandeliers, and candlelit tables. There is also a bar section for those who wish to only partake of a refreshing beverage or two. And as well as there being Polish cuisine, the fourth area of the restaurant is made up of a French restaurant, which looks to make a Franco-Polish merger in tastes. 

Thus, overall the restaurant gives a feel of history, and you can easily image a group of medieval lords returning from a hunt and dropping by to have some food and a few mugs of beer. Based on it’s location, it is a popular location with any visiting tourists, and especially Germans. The menus are provided in Polish, English and German, covering most of the requirements for those that may visit. The food itself is aimed to be very traditional, wholesome and filling. A prime example can be seen below with an order of pork ribs (żeberka) being provided on a wooden platter with a big fork and knife sticking out. The combination of the meat, potatoes and vegetables may seem very traditional but they worked very well with the local brewed beer also provided. Incidentally, waiter said that the beer is available only in their piwnica, but it would be worth revisiting for that alone.Finally, the restaurant itself does claim to the oldest in Europe (on it’s restaurant menus and other locations), dating back to 1273, and has claimed visits from Frederyk Chopin, Julius Slovak and Johann Goethe. However, this claim may not be the most accurate as even Wikipedia is only claiming that it is the oldest in Wrocław. However, with the Stiftskeller restaurant in Salzburg alone claiming history back to the year 803, it is difficult to confirm for sure if the Piwnica Świdnica can lay claim to the title. Despite that it is still worth a visit for the 700 years of history and to sample the food and beer. While wandering around the Rynek and Ratusz, you might also spot some of Wrocławs gnome population as seen below. Whether they start singing, dancing and talking may depend on how many of the beers are consumed.

Tagged , , ,