Thursday, May 29, 2014

If someone would have told me I’d find modern dining comparable to NYC here in Warsaw, I would never have believed him/her.

But Warsaw continues to surprise me! This spring, we dined on some fantastic raw oysters, foie gras, escargot and grilled sweetbreads at Brasserie Warszawka, which recently received a Bib Gourmand in the 2014 Michelin Guide Europe. We had three courses and a juicy bottle of French Gigondas red wine at a third of the price we would pay in NYC! We enjoyed our meal at the Brasserie so much that we returned just two weeks later and have recommended it to all our friends.
A fantastic dinner of French classics such as foie gras, raw oysters, escargot and sweetbreads.
During the past year, I’ve also dined at two spectacular, modern restaurants and wanted to share my experiences and photos with you. I feel like I’ve only hit the tip of what fine dining could be and WILL BE in Warsaw.

For my birthday dinner last May, I was looking for a nice place and stumbled upon this article: 5 Best for Fine Dining by Warsaw Foodie where Nolita was listed. I liked the menu online as well as the name (named after a neighborhood in NYC), so I made a reservation for us.

When the server at Nolita showed us to our table for two right in front of the open kitchen, I thought this was the best birthday present ever! I’d rather have a memorable meal than a physical present any day.

My husband decided to splurge since it was my birthday in our new city, so we started with raw French oysters with yuzu salsa and glasses of bubbly champagne. Next, the chef sent an amuse-bouche of creamy porcini mushroom soup in the most darling, tiny glass bottles.
For our appetizers, I selected the decadent foie gras with rhubarb sorbet served in a tiny canning jar and homemade brioche while Jason had the scallops. I was in heaven!
Appetizers and entrees at Nolita.
Throughout my birthday dinner, I watched chef and owner Jack Grochowina and his all-male team cook and plate the restaurant’s dishes. I love the “dance” that happens in a well-run kitchen! I dreamily reminisced about my long days in the professional kitchen.

Grochowina worked at the Ritz in London for several years and later returned to Warsaw to become the chef at Amber Room, another fine dining restaurant. (I had a girls’ lunch at the Amber Room not too long ago, and felt the restaurant seemed more “old boy’s network” than anything. Not impressed!)

Prices of appetizers range from 13 to 59 zł, and main courses cost from 70 to 129 zł. Nolita was the perfect choice for our date night and special occasion. But the price is a bit steep to make it a monthly occasion, unfortunately.

Even Nolita’s dessert impressed me! A sweet, but tangy rhubarb parfait with rhubarb ice cream for me, and hubby indulged in a glossy chocolate praline gateau.
We were even served a refreshing rhubarb sorbet as part of the dessert course. 
Another modern restaurant, Concept 13, in Warsaw offers an enticing 5-course set lunch menu for only 50 zł (about $15 USD). That’s an unbelievable steal!

This restaurant is hidden on the fifth floor of a luxury shopping center in Centrum called Vitkac, which is owned by the Polish Likus Hotel & Restaurant group. You have to pass by the gigantic Louis Vuitton store on the ground floor to access the elevators. I never would have guessed there was a restaurant and wine bar in this building. There are even outdoor tables with a view over the busy streets of Nowy Swiat and Aleje Jerozolimskie.
Our first course was a tiny crab salad with cucumber – a perfect, light course. The second course was a creamy mushroom soup with “roasted butter” and croutons. Third, tagliolini with vongole and shrimp – a little too fishy for me. The main course was deer loin with chanterelle mushrooms, fava beans and asaparagus – a very impressive showing of the season’s vegetables, but the meat was served a little too rare for my palate.
For dessert, the set menu included a white chocolate mousse with passion fruit sorbet, mint and “orange chocolate.” This is another type of dessert I would’ve made at my restaurants as I recognized the perfect quenelle of sorbet.
The restaurant’s website states Chef Arkadiusz Janczarek and his team of cooks prepare dishes from the highest-quality and seasonal ingredients. I couldn’t find much information about him online, but I did find some of his food photos on this site: Chefs-TalkWe’ve since dined at Concept 13 a couple of times, and while good, it just doesn’t WOW me especially for its expensive price tag.
Dinner options at Concept 13 include foie gras, steak tartare, fish and a steak fillet with too much foam.
Both Nolita and Concept 13 could be considered special occasion restaurants as well as a splurge for a fancy lunch. Hopefully, Warsaw’s dining scene will continue to develop more restaurants like these.

Concept 13 (about 10-minute walk east of Centrum metro stop)
Address: ul. Bracka 9
Tel: (22) 310 73 73

Address: ul. Wilcza 46 (about 10-minute walk south of Centrum metro stop)
Tel: (22) 292 04 24

Best places for anniversary, birthday, special occasion dinner or a splurge.

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Cuisine de Provence said...

Beautiful and impressive - looks like Warshaw is becoming a weekend destination sort of place!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

oh yum! i haven't had a good escargot in a while and i love it! late happy birthday!

Lois B said...

I'm so glad to have these recommendations! We ate at Antilier Amoro last time we were in Warsaw. It was great fun, but not something that could be a regular item in our budget.

Joy said...

Warszawa definitely has great food scene! You must come visit! ;-)

Joy said...

Thank you! I love escargot once in awhile too!

Joy said...

@Lois, I've heard mixed reviews about Atiler so have crossed a 1600 zł meal off the list anyway. Nolita and the Brasserie Warszawska are definitely ones i can recommend! :-)

Sara Louise said...

That looks like some pretty fine dining to me! Warsaw is moving on up my must-visit list :)

Joy said...

If you get back this way during the next 2 years, please let me know! Poland has a lot of hidden gems! :-)

Unknown said...

Warsaw is very often underrated, as in fact it is really great city with amazing places. One of my favourite culinary spots is the Akademia Restaurant in Mokotow. It is very elegant and romantic and their food is incredible - delicious, fresh and very innovative. I hope to visit them soon:)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the recommendations! In Warsaw there are tens of really nice restaurants but also bar that are worth visiting. The one that I can for sure recommend to everybody would be Bubbles Bar and Restaurant. They serve really delicious food, both Polish and European (mostly French and Italian), so everybody will be able to find something for themselves in their menu. And the atmosphere of that place is very casual and cozy, it is one of the best spots in Warsaw for me :)