She is travelling abroad and visiting Polish countryside more often these days. Is Warsaw still tasty for her?
You are constantly on the run. Is Warsaw still attractive to you?
Of course, I am a Warsaw patriot. If it wasn’t so much happening here like nowadays, I wouldn’t probably be doing what I am doing. I have just spoken to a friend from Tel-Aviv who comes to Warsaw a few times a year just to eat. So there must be something about it. There is a stimulating competition in Warsaw gastronomy. The Varsovians are demanding because they travel a lot, follow trends. They want everything to be nice and tasty.
So probably you are often asked to give tours for people from your profession. What do you show in Warsaw other culinary journalists?
I often do it for the city. For sure I want to show the base – products, ingredients. That is why Hala Mirowska. The most democratic market in the world because you have elderly ladies here, eco mothers, the representatives of ethnic minorities, expats. If the weather permits we visit the Majlerts as it is also an interesting place.
Do you also like to start your tour from the market?
Yes, I do. However, in Copenhagen for example, there are no markets.
How come? How do they live then?
They have everything in shops. But unfortunately, there is no direct contact with the producer.
In comparison to other countries of southern Europe, we have a very rich culture of eating breakfasts. I recommend my guests dairy products as this is something they are not familiar with. We go to SAM because they offer cottage cheese, Vienna style eggs, toasts from challah which is made on the spot, shakshuka.
I always try to show Warsaw phenomena that have happened throughout recent years. For example coffee culture. We go to Stor or Forum. I try to show bakeries so we go to Stalowa do Rano or we just simply have a quick chat with Cała w Mące at Forteca.
As for cuisine, Polish, modern, based on ingredients from local producers. That is why we often end up at AleWino. Or we go to Superlardo because I want to show them what Paweł Fabiś has to offer. For example, they grind flour from ecowheat and bake delicious bread out of it, prepare cold cuts. Kieliszki na Hożej, Warszawa Hotel…
Remarkable just like Darek Barański. He is one of the most diligent and talented chefs I have met in my life. Modest. For example, he recommends other places to food critics. It is quite an unusual. We go to Bibenda, MOD. I have recently taken a Swedish journalist there and she couldn’t believe her own eyes: a Singaporean chef, doughnuts in the morning, neo-bistro in the evening, 18-year-olds who drink natural wines from Austria on a date. Additionally perfect coffee. She said it was even more hipster than any other trendy venue in Stockholm.
I also introduce my guests to other people. This is what I like most, too. However, in my company, they will have to drink Polish wines, beers, and ciders.
Do they complain much?
No, they don’t. Five years ago there was only one Polish wine, but it has recently changed. They are still relatively expensive but the quality is getting better and better: Wieliczka Vineyard, Dom Bliskowice, Winnica Wzgórz Trzebnickich, Moderna.
I try not to hide anything but concentrate on what is good. If my guests want to go to a milk bar we don’t go to Prasowy but we head to Sady where you can feel this milky aroma in the air. I took there Marina O’Loughlin, a British journalist who is my food critics guru. She is very ironic in her articles which she publishes in her column at “Sunday Times”. If she ever criticised my restaurant, before I’d close it, I’d die laughing.
And she comes to Warsaw.
At first, I was nervous but it turned out perfect. She was very brave, we ate and walked a lot. At the end of her stay, we visited AleWino where she had a homemade dinner and leniwe with roasted plums and caramel for a desert. “BBC Good Food”, one of the biggest culinary magazines in Britain, has published an extensive article. Flattering.
What did she like most?
Warsaw in general. She didn’t beat about the bush. In her eyes, Warsaw is quite an architectonically chaotic city. She wrote that you have to have an insider for a guide to show you around because otherwise, you will end up at the Old Town. But I think it’s the case with every city.
Do you follow the beaten path and visit only friends?
Luckily I am not a food critic so I don’t have to visit places which I wouldn’t like to visit.
Where do you eat, work, spend time?
At Relaks, because I live nearby. Right now Dobroczynna is even closer. This cafe donates its revenue to the Charytatywni foundation which supports kids eduction. Stor in Tamka Street because of their coffee and cheesecakes prepared by Fatima El Dessouki who is a real master. And I like cakes. I drop by to Miss Mellow for a New York cheesecake. I like Forum because they offer fantastic coffee and unique breakfasts. They play good music which is rare in Warsaw. You can work here and the market at Hala Mirowska is just around the corner.
Bibenda, AleWino, because they have never considerably failed me. For a business meeting, I would choose Kieliszki na Hożej. Delicious, innovative food and a pleasant atmosphere. Cosmo for an evening drink. Yesterday I drank there an excellent cocktail with apricot. I just wanted to take a bath in it.
Piekarnia Rano – it just proves I am not entirely sane. I live in Upper Mokotów, I don’t have a car and I am still a regular customer there. They will soon open in Stalowa Street a cafe with breakfasts. I can’t wait.
What is it that you lack in Warsaw?
Wine bars. Non-pretentious, simple, with fine, natural wines from Moravia, Austria. The ones which are close to us when it comes to flavour and geographical region. I am pushing wine importers and restaurateurs. Maybe they will take it under consideration one day. Monsieur Leon was for me a substitute for this kind of place. In this micro venue, I probably spent the majority of my summer evenings.
Here we rest, eat, dance, bike, boat on the river, listen to concerts and visit a museum. We have everything here.
Today we would like to invite you to take a walk with us on the left bank of the river. We will show you our favourite places. Of course, you can already go through boulevards straight from Żoliborz to the Łazienkowski Bridge but we will start our stroll from the Museum on the Vistula River. This part of boulevards is a perfect idea for a walk if you want to show Warsaw in a nutshell to visitors. We get here by the second metro line. Our final stop is the Copernicus Metro Station.
Let’s begin with the MUSEUM ON THE VISTULA RIVER, a temporary headquarters of the Museum of Modern Art (Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie St 22). We can see here excellent exhibitions (admission fee only 1 PLN), buy an album at Bookoff bookstore and eat delicious meal at Paloma bistro. Don’t forget to look up and admire Alicja Bilelawska’s installation.
Next to the Museum, there is a modern barge called PRZYSTAŃ NOWA FALA. Ask there for available cruises. There are also motorboats from Miami Wars at your disposal.
Between the Museum and the COPERNICUS SCIENCE CENTRE there is our favourite part of boulevards. First the perennial garden by the Museum, then a concrete part with high stairs – ideal for sportsmen (you can ride here a skateboard or BMX or just sit and admire the view). Finally, near the Copernicus Centre there are stairs with wooden seats and sawgrass – a perfect spot for a date.
We also recommend going up the roof of the UNIVERSITY LIBRARY and Copernicus Science Centre. Both institutions have arranged beautiful gardens which you can visit free of charge. Every garden is in a different style, offering spectacular views on the centre, Old Town, Powiśle, and the river.
We are heading further towards the Świętokrzyski Bridge. Right after it, there is BARKA (a summer branch of Plan b), and above it PLAC ZABAW. There is everything here – a beautiful green garden, a few bars, Korean food, SLOW MARKET with even more delicious food (every weekend, from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening), concerts and night parties at Barka.
Next, there is DWA OSIEM which serves delicious pizza and invites you to use its pump track. Kids can have fun and later on enjoy some Kulkove icecream. On the way to the Poniatowski bridge you will also find music clubs Wisława and WIR.
Our next step is two bridges away, after the Poniatowski Bridge. Here on a small hill next to a skyscraper designed by Stefan Kuryłowicz girls from BABIE LATO set up a mini beach. It is definitely one of the coziest places by the river.
And finally, GRUNT I WODA. This club tries hard and the Varsovians appreciate all the efforts. That is why it is always packed with people. The owners do their best to create aesthetic architecture and every year they make it even better. This year there is a social garden and a playground. Parents with kids – this is a perfect venue for you.
You don’t need to venture any further than FALA club (Płyta Desantu) with great concerts. On a hill, there is PRZYLĄDEK MIAMI WARS where we recommend a cruise by a motorboat and you can get right back to where we started. Wonderful!
The right bank of the Vistula is our pride. We bring here those who visit our city and we also take advantage of it every day. You only need to cross a bridge or take a ferry cruise to relax in the very centre of the city.
The most pleasant is a recreational route along the bank of the river. Among the trees, with a view on the city or the Old Town. You can walk, run, bike and during winter try cross-country skiing. A city bike station is located also on the Poniatówka beach. You can cycle through a unique footbridge suspended under the Łazienkowski Bridge or use the Żerańska pedestrian and bike bridge.
Beaches are exceptional! You can suntan and make a picnic on the beaches next to the Poniatowski Bridge, or near Saska Kępa and ZOO. Unfortunately, we don’t recommend swimming in the Vistula. There are also some more secluded and less sandy beaches where in some designated areas you can set a bonfire.
Kids can have fun in some natural areas, for example, river-themed playground by the Poniatowski Bridge. Let’s listen to birds, admire sunsets and starred sky. And remember- keep the place tidy and clean.
What is so special about this place? People, interior design, meatless menu, vinyl records and an outside garden at the Różyckiego marketplace.
The Brzeskis simply had to end up in Brzeska Street. Katarzyna and Jacek managed to create one of the most climatic places in Warsaw – Praska.
One day life in Kabaty became mundane, they did not feel any neighbourly bonds and missed social life. Katarzyna runs a family construction company in Praga so she is familiar with this area. They decided on a new apartment here. They were also looking for a place in Brzeska Street but since they are both dog lovers they needed more greenery. The choice fell on Praga I – a real estate designed by husband-and-wife team Helena and Szymon Syrkus. It did not disappoint them as it proved to be indeed well planned. The next step was to find a local bar. And this is how they met Michał “Misiek” Wieczorek who ran his homey bar in Wileńska Street 3. Unfortunately, as it often happens in Praga the building was in a poor state so he was forced to close his business.
They laugh that there was no other option than to open a new place with Misiek. They found a perfect spot. Frankly speaking, only now we can see how fabulous it is. The historic buildings in Brzeska Street or at the Rożyckiego marketplace fell into dereliction. Renovation required much effort. The interior was made with the help of their neighbour Monika Rakowska who is a set designer and artist. Wintertime was difficult but with the arrival of spring Praska started to flourish.
Tourists, locals, and visitors of the Open Ząbkowska festival started visiting this place (the restaurant is adjacent to Pyzy Flaki Gorące and Pallone Icecream shop). Praska is valued among vegetarians because every day you can eat different, simple, Polish dishes (there are even meatless duck and pork chops).
The outside garden on the premises of the Różyckiego marketplace turned out to be a total blast. It is arranged and cultivated by Monika. The interior design will take your breath away. We like Friday parties during which you can play music from your vinyl records brought from home. No Youtube party but instead music from vinyls. Additionally, if you bring your own vinyl record you will get beer for free. It is hard to describe the atmosphere of this place, you have to feel it.
Praska, Brzeska St 23
You just have to visit Praga which is located on the other bank of the Vistula River. No doubt about it. Firstly, because of the climate of prewar Warsaw as this part of the city did not suffer many losses. Secondly, because of its residents and the youngsters who are continually changing the image of the district which has been neglected over the recent years. Your metro stop is Dworzec Wileński and the moment you get there you will see the change. Just stroll the streets and backyards with service points, factories and local bars.