Eating & Drinking
Cream of wild mushroom, crayfish in cream or a bowl of pierogi – the menus of the two oldest Polish restaurants, Piwnica Swidnicka in Wroclaw (in existence continuously since 1273!) and Wierzynek in Krakow consist of exemplary traditional Polish dishes.
The culinary hit of recent months in Poland is… Polish cuisine. Following the craze for pasta, fusion cuisine and sushi, the fashion is now for classical food: steak tartare or herring served with a thimbleful of vodka, borsch, bigos or rissoles. However, these age-old dishes are being served in new forms – in refined versions, served by impeccably dressed waiters in tasteful interiors, as well as home-made versions, like mother used to make them.
You can dine in luxury at restaurants such as Ale Gloria! (the jewel of Magda Gessler’s restaurant empire) and Dom Polski in Warsaw, JaDka in Wroclaw or Nostalgia in Krakow. To taste the best home-made Polish pierogi, you should visit one of the restaurants which specialise in making these pastries: Pierogarnia in Warsaw, Fryzjer in Kazimierz Dolny or Dom Pierogow in Nowy Sacz.
Regional tastes are best sampled in their natural environment. So order pyry z gzikiem (jacket potatoes with cottage cheese) when in Poznan, Silesian dumplings with purple cabbage in Opole, the kwasnica soup in Szczawnica or milk cap mushrooms straight from the oven when in Krynica.
On the coast, when dining at Tawerna u Budzisza in Puck, you should try the dried flounder, while fresh smoked whitefish and eels can be enjoyed at the Pod Sieja inn on Lake Wigry. In the capital, at Smaki Warszawy, ask for cold trotters with horse radish, at Krakow’s C.K. Dezerter, try the apple strudel, and at the Sodas restaurant in Punsk, choose one of the borderland dishes: czenaki, kibiny or cepeliny.
The Poles also love peasant food, promoted by the Chlopskie Jadlo restaurant chain. Today, a slice of bread with marjoram-flavoured lard, grilled ewe’s-milk cheese, sour soup or barbecued neck can be ordered in dozens of thatched inns scattered throughout the country.