“Just look what is happening outside. In weather like this, you simply crave for something warm, filling, something which I call “comfort food”. That is why in our menu there are some heavy meals, sometimes fried, for example, falafel or eggplant balls, so that you could feel nice and warm”, says Zbyszek Gawron, a chef at the Ósma Kolonia restaurant.
His menu was not always based only on vegetables (Ósma Kolonia is a vegetarian and vegan bistro). He co-founded Bibenda, where meat dishes used to be served on a daily basis. “Thanks to such challenges I can evolve”, he says. “I focus on seasonal ingredients and I combine them in such a way that everything is tasty, colourful, filling and at the same time unique so that one could remember this unique taste and come back for more.”
Ósma Kolonia has already its own group of enthusiasts and the number of new fans has gradually been increasing. There are also some iconic dishes. When it was time for Pad Thai to step aside in order to make room for new dishes, clients revolted. “It was incredible. I just wanted to refresh the menu a bit, and it turned out this dish was a total success. At Ósma Kolonia it is served differently. Here the key ingredient is a peanut sauce.”
And this “flavouring” seems to be Zbyszek’s main secret. Thanks to his excellent choice of extras and sauces everything seems to be fresh and juicy. Try spelt pancakes with kimchi and nameko mushrooms (non-vegans – ask for an additional egg!) and you will know what this “flavouring” is all about.
Zbyszek, who grew up in Austin, has been living in Warsaw for 6 years now. “I like Warsaw localism. Every time I change a flat and a district I learn this local patriotism from scratch. And in a culinary sense as well. Now I spend a lot of time in Żoliborz and one of my favourite places is Bar Sady – a milk bar. It seems that my Polish soul has awoken. When I used to live in Mokotów I dined at Koreatown. I like its cuisine”.
What are his plans for this year? “My dream is so that chefs could get to know each other better and would be more willing to share their knowledge. One of the people I look up to is Monika Walecka. She could teach us how to bake perfect bread!”
text: Magda Assanowicz
photos: Aga Bilska
ÓSMA KOLONIA, Słowackiego St 15/19