The 10 Best Restaurants in Warsaw
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small, The 10 Best Restaurants in Warsaw, Warsaw, Old Town Square, photo: Jan Włodarczyk/Forum, warszawa_forum_121.jpg
Warsaw will not disappoint those with even the most discerning palates. Here's our subjective selection of the best restaurants the Polish capital has to offer.
There are several dozen restaurants in the capital which boast kitchens of the highest calibre. Many have won awards in competitions and prestigious food guides, such as the Polish edition of Gault & Millau and the Michelin Red Guide to European Cities. Much has already been said about Wojciech Modest Amaro and his star Atelier. Now it's time to present its competitors.
The greatest of Atelier Amaro's opponents is Senses, a restaurant awarded one Michelin star in the 2016 Michelin Red Guide and four ‘toques’ by Gault & Millau in 2016. The restaurant was appreciated for combining traditional flavours with a modern approach towards food. The juries acknowledged its cuisine as innovative, elegant, and modern. The success of Senses was unexpected, as it was not preceded by it being awarded the Rising Star of the Year title, and the restaurant itself was opened only two years ago.
Senses is a mélange of its head chef’s talent and personality. Chef Andrea Camastra grew up in Bari, Italy, and after experience in starred restaurants across Europe, he ended up in Poland, where he has worked in many prestigious places, including Atelier Amaro (as a sous chef). The restaurant is committed to using Polish products, mostly from organic farms. Its tasting menu includes mushrooms with wild garlic, chives and bacon, and stew with lobster and cream. Seafood is delivered fresh from a fish market in Madrid. Its kitchen is cosmopolitan and creative, using experimental flavour combinations.
Because Senses is a project that involves a continuous process of creation, the restaurant does not have a fixed menu: the type of dishes served depends on the accessibility of seasonal products. On the exemplary tasting menu pumpkin seeds are served with red caviar, horseradish, and apple; pierogi ruskie are offered not only with lard but also with black caviar; a typical Polish eel is prepared with celery and Japenese wakame. It also features as well as a variation of Polish cucumber soup.
The guiding spirit of this restaurant is a legendary gourmet and seeker of the best Polish products – Zbigniew Kmieć. Zielony Niedźwiedź is a place created with love for unique specialities and forgotten traditions. Here, one can try here the simplest yet most modern cuisine. Its owners remember that Warsaw was famous for its sublime gastronomy and want to restore its splendour by referring back to the rich Polish gastronomic tradition, which is why the products are bought from small producers and carefully selected farms.
The chef that pushed it to the top of its game was Sebastian Olma, a winner of the Top Chef culinary competition show who was educated in starred restaurants in London. He left ZN in March 2016 and his former sous chef, Wojciech Deres, has now taken up the mantle. The restaurant’s location in Breyer Park in Powisle makes it the perfect place to get lunch and relax on a hot day. The menu changes depending on availability, but features Polish classics (such as sour rye soup and pork jelly) but also options based on niche products like bison meat or duck’s tongue with honey and pistachios. Those who enjoy cooked meats and cheeses can try the best sausages, hams, and cheeses from Polish producers. More than half of its winery is filled with Hungarian wines. Zielony Niedźwiedź also features a small delicatessen where you can find specialities that make ideal culinary gifts.
Opasły Tom PiW
Opasły Tom is one of Warsaw's culinary gems. Located in a small but cosy spot on Foksal Street, the restaurant serves original cuisine with a strong Polish accent (a lot of its great products come from Polish manufacturers) as prepared by Agata Wojda – according to Gault & Millau Poland, the best female Polish chef (as well as a notable culinary columnist and frustrated violinist). Its menu is seasonal and limited and changes a few times a year. The products used in its kitchen are delivered by trusted producers; it is no secret where its eggs, cheeses, vegetables, and liqueurs come from. Despite Wojda shunning modern techniques, she does use the sous vide method. The chef stresses that women’s cooking is different than men’s because there is no madness in men. In a recent interview she said that the menu is ‘designed to make dishes that are safe, tasty, and au courant’.
The presentation of its dishes is simple and taste takes centre stage. In the spring, kohlrabi soup with watercress and radish leaf pesto is on offer. In the summer one can sample rabbit prepared in white wine sauce with green asparagus, green peas, and potato dumplings. In the autumn try the sensational Polish goose and cheeses. The winter awaits with an exceptional warm kale salad with goose stomachs and oyster mushrooms and delicious cauliflower in a surprising form with trout mousse.
The minimalistic interior of the Fryderyk Chopin Museum can be paired with modern cuisine. It is a place for those who like to take an innovative approach to food. Former head chef Arkadiusz Wilamowski spearheaded Tamka 43's penchant for Polish recipes with a French twist, with a menu inspired by Fryderyk Chopin’s culinary preferences, based on the composer’s lists to friends and the book Chopin Gourmet. After his departure in 2016, the role of head chef was taken up by Piotr Pielachowski.
Just as in the case of all the previously-mentioned restaurants, clients may choose either something from the menu à la carte or the tasting menu. Both menus change with the seasons. In the spring, Wilamowski offers asparagus à la polonaise with sorrel granita and hollandaise sauce, sour rye soup with egg and marjoram, morels sauté in orange wine or guinea fowl La Belle Rouge façon Polignac, a particular favourite of Chopin. The restaurant also offers an exceptional selection of wines.
Mąka i Woda
It's best to book ahead if you want a place at Mąka i Woda, as it's one of the best spots in the city for Italian food. The kitchen tempts diners with quality products from Italy prepared with simplicity, putting the ingredients in the spotlight. They have the best pizza in Warsaw according to many, and deserve special merit for having an oven built by a native Neapolitan. The oven is wood-burning and pizza is baked for several seconds at around 480 degrees, which creates a Sicilian atmosphere – even in the middle of winter. Mąka i Woda is also famous for their legendary ravioli with egg yolk, ricotta, caramelised butter, and sage. Dishes are composed of few ingredients and the simplest pizza, Bianca, is a masterpiece.
Small, original tapas-style dishes, cocktails, and regional Polish beer are what Bibenda has to offer – a place with an informal atmosphere and moderate prices, under the direction of Zbigniew Gawron (who gained culinary experience in the USA). Its menu is short and changes frequently based on the availability of seasonal products, in particular Polish vegetables from local producers (the menu often gives information about the origin of featured products). In the summer, the menu features kohlrabi, asparagus, baby spinach, and leeks accented by labneh, harissa, and tahini. The menu also includes meat dishes such as duck pâté, Polish white sausage, and lamb kofta.
Solec 44 is an original restaurant from the outspoken Alexander Baron. In the gastronomic world he is a characteristic figure. His road to a culinary career was long and winding – from the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, to working in Scotland, supervising the building of an amber museum on the Virgin Islands and trading precious stones in China. Baron defines himself by an unsatisfied desire to experience life. The dishes made here are all based on great Polish products, and Baron is personally acquainted with each supplier and producer. Solec 44 is located in Powisle, near the railway tracks in a building that resembles a socialist grocery store. At first, it was a clubhouse combined with a café where fans of board games and those taking part in cultural activities gathered. Now, as the chef emphasizes, it is a mélange of a bar and board game club with a relaxed ambiance.
Solec 44's innovative courses eschew traditional concepts of Polish cuisine. You won't find the expected pierogi, but instead original and crazy combinations of flavours, such as dumplings with beef, morels and wild garlic. It is also worth trying ensilaged vegetables (the so-called Polish kimchi), various types of kasha, liquors and lemonades. Its menu is seasonal and changes every month while the prices are reasonable, by Warsaw standards. Seasonal selections include steak tartare with goat milk cream, boar tongue with pine shoots, lichens and nettles, and stir fry with Polish vegetables and buckwheat. Some of the recipes developed by Baron are included into the recently published Suwała, Baron, and Others: Recipes and Stories (editor's translation) which is must on the bookshelf of every self-respecting gourmand and which is soon to be published in English.
Concept 13 – a restaurant with a modern, glazed interior which specialises in dishes from different parts of the world – isn’t cheap. It’s located in a luxury department store with a beautiful view of Warsaw. At lunchtime, however, they offer an affordable five-course tasting menu inspired by Polish cuisine. You can try turbot with cauliflower and tarragon and finish with green apple sorbet with crumble and yoghurt. The man behind these dishes, Dariusz Barański, is considered one of the best chefs in Poland. He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and for years worked and held internships at such paragons of gastronomy as London’s Le Gavroche, Greenhouse and Sketch. His cuisine is light and subtle, thanks to his remarkable talent in combining flavours and food which is cooked for a short period of time.
Salto is located on the ground floor of the Hotel Rialto, at the intersection of Emilii Plater and Wilcza. The elegant restaurant is decorated in the Art Deco style and led by Argentinian chef Martin Gimenez Castro, who honed his craft across South America and the USA. After winning the first Polish edition of Top Chef, Castro opened his own restaurant here. His kitchen is courageous, blending the flavours of South America with those of Asia, particularly Japan. The menu is based on seafood, cooked with a modern twist. It’s also worth trying the meat, for example, Argentinian beef. The desserts are innovative and include a surprising deconstructed szarlotka (apple pie). It offers a special 6-dish tasting menu, which in 2015 was named the best in Poland by the jury of ‘Poland's 100 Best Restaurants’.is located on the ground floor of the Hotel Rialto, at the intersection of ul. Emilii Plater and Wilcza. The restaurant is decorated in Art Deco style and led by the Argentinean chef Martin Gimenez Castro, who honed his craft across South American and the USA. After winning the first Polish edition of Top Chef, Castro opened his own restaurant here. His kitchen is courageous, blending the flavors of South America with those of Asia, particularly Japan. The menu is based on seafood – cooked with a modern twist. It’s also worth trying the meat, for example, Argentinean beef. The desserts are innovative and include a surprising, deconstructed szarlotka (apple pie).
wojciech modest amaro
mąka i woda
Butchery and wine
Butchery and Wine
Located on Żurawia Street, Butchery and Wine has received the prestigious Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide for the third year in a row. The restaurant specializes in a variety of perfectly seared steaks (some from abroad and some from Poland) and carefully selected wines. All products, including side dishes, are of the highest quality. The Polish meat comes directly from manufacturers and cooperating slaughterhouses. Restaurant manager Paweł Suwała (who has previously worked in the British Isles and Greece) focuses on simple products. He emphasizes that choosing a good breed is not the only variable needed to have good beef:
We control the way in which the nutrition and treatment of the livestock is carried out, the way in which the animals are transported to the slaughterhouse, the slaughtering process and all of the operations related to meat that take place next. We take great care in the process of butchering, seasoning and shipping preparation. When it comes to foreign meat, we import it directly from the best manufacturers in Australia, the USA, Ireland, Uruguay and the UK. We follow our rule – good meat is meat we know.
In addition to steaks of the highest quality (rib eye, New York, T-bone, porterhouse, onglet, bavette, etc.), grilled duck hearts, roasted bone marrow, slow-roasted Mangalica bacon and morels with wild garlic and poached eggs await hungry diners. In the above-mentioned Suwała, Baron, and Others: Recipes and Stories Suwała shares his recipes and describe the success of his restaurant:
I constantly work with the same group of people, as it is not only important what you do, but also who you do it with. Our idea was a great choice.
A rebellious child – this is how chef and owner Michał Bryś describes himself. He says that in the kitchen he feels like a kid in a toy factory; like a little rogue who has crept in under the cover of darkness to exercise authority. For him, cooking is a source of unlimited joy. Bryś is one of the most innovative chefs in Poland. He has worked in a number of great European restaurants, in London, Zwolle, and Copenhagen.
Two years ago, he opened his restaurant in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, immediately arousing emotions with his slightly baroque gourmet menu. Its frequently changing menu is short and based on fresh and seasonal products delivered from trusted sources. His dishes are composed of many elements and their composition can be unusual. Examples? Steak tartare with veal sweetbreads, pickled enoki mushrooms, mustard and lovage; scallops in cauliflower sauce, caramelized honey, cauliflower foam with ginger and lemon grass; and butter cakes with ginger and algae. Lamb is served here with potato dumplings made of roasted and smoked potatoes and walnuts, together with sprouts stewed in butter, sesame and marinated garlic.
This compact restaurant with a refined interior is situated in the city centre and offers modern and elegant cuisine. Some critics write that its chef, Jacek Grochowina, cooks like the devil: as a technically perfect chef, his dishes taste inspiring and finished. Grochowina started his career cooking at home and after graduating from a culinary school left for London, where he worked in the Ritz. His subtle dishes always look very attractive. The chef cooks international cuisine, sometimes with Polish hints, but always top-class – starting with crusty wholemeal bread and ending with wild salmon with cucumber, lemon, and herbs. On the other hand, Nolita has strong French and Mediterranean elements, such as a foie gras ‘bon bon’ marinated in porto and cooked in the sous vide method with an orange-beetroot gel, or turbot with zucchini and mules. Those who prefer meet can choose between cooked pork cheeks with Jerusalem artichokes and deer tenderloin with pumpkin and smoked plums.
Mielżyński Wine Bar
Although there are many places in Warsaw with good wine, Mielżyński Wine Bar has led the way for wine lovers in recent years. Its owner is a wine connoisseur and oenologist with a lot of international experience. The wines here come from all over the world. In the informal atmosphere patrons can enjoy not only the extensive wine list, but also a menu of à la carte snacks that changes daily.
Written by Magdalena Kasprzyk-Chevriaux, June 2015, translated by A. Aniskiewicz 20 July 2015. Updated by MK on 4 May 2016, translated
by A. Wiśniewski, May 2016