Tag Archives: Warsaw restaurants

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.


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.

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Warsaw restaurant review – Butchery & Wine

Firstly, apologies for butchering the logo but they don’t make it easy to advertise the place. You can see all the proper images on their website here – http://www.butcheryandwine.pl/en/

Before I go any further, there are three rules for eating at this place:

  1. You like meat
  2. Someone else is paying
  3. You have made a reservation

I can blame both halves of my boss for having the chance to eat here. One half is Belgian, lives in Warsaw, knows about food and wine and had this restaurant appearing on his Outlook calendar a suspiciously large number of times. The other half is British, lives in the UK and was visiting Warsaw last week. So, the first half brought it to my attention and the other half provided the reason to splash out although fair to say I think he’d have preferred the curry house just around the corner!

It’s located on Żurawia, which leads down from Marszalkowska to Plac T.K and which, following the success of places like the trendy Szpilka i Szparka, is rapidly becoming a posers paradise and somewhere for people like me to avoid. Nevertheless, a good street for business albeit not over-blessed with large retail units in which to locate a popular eating establishment, which is why Butchery & Wine is a touch too small and hence the need for a reservation.

It continues what is threatening to become a sustainable trend of people opening restaurants that are not only well designed but also serve good food. That’s not to say the food in Poland is not good because at grass roots level it is. You could, can and always will find somewhere serving very acceptable food of a ‘Polish style’. That’s to say the menu that includes kotlet schabowy, mizeria, żurek and so on – although it has to be said I would have no clue where to find such a place inside Warsaw. I’m also not saying that Warsaw has never had a good collection of restaurants, because it has, aside from perhaps first two or three years I was here, but what’s been missing until recently is good restaurants that stay open more than a few months to a year. In the past they would appear and then just as they had made it onto your short list of favourite eating places they would disappear again. In the most recent years however the situation has stabilised. Good restaurants are surviving and the list is being added to every year. Within easy striking distance for us it probably started with Mielżyński’s wine bar back in 2004 and the rate of new additions has been accelerating ever since.

Back to B&W. We all skipped the starters, which is a shame because the choice looks very tempting and on the next visit I’ll be trying either the white onion & parmesan soup at 15 zlots or the seared scallops at 55 zlots depending on how rich I’m feeling. That’ll be the soup then! For the main course I shared a Cote de boeuf from minimum 2 weeks aged beef Red Angus with Grzegorz while Paul had the Aged beef fillet with fondant potato, spinach & truffles and Michał the Grilled tuna steak with salad Niçoise. All were delicious and, whilst I’m not a world expert on Cote de boeuf, this was every bit as good as the one we had in Paris in February. The extras of creamy mashed potatoes, raspberry tomato salad and so on were also very tasty.

Having skipped starters we felt justified in going for deserts and so a few Creme Brûlée were demolished by the rest while I went for a bread and butter pudding with ice cream. Along with two bottles of Tuscan red wine two large bottles of water and coffees the bill came to about 880 zlots, 220 per head. Like I said, best if someone else is paying but not ridiculous for what we had and the obvious quality of the ingredients.

We all enjoyed it and I will at some stage return with the family. They say that the French love their food and wine and know where to find the good stuff, if that is true then the fact that on the night we visited at least 50% of the guests were speaking French must be a recommendation in itself.

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