If you are a bit bored with everything you have seen travelling so far and it’s hard to find another destination for a weekend away we have a recommendation for you- Warsaw.
I don’t think it’s what comes first to your mind when you are looking for a city break, and believe me, not such a long time ago it wouldn’t be my first choice either.
Warsaw is a city in transition – sitting somewhere between communism and capitalism, a city constantly under construction where things change every day and where nothing is really defined for good yet.
Once a really beautiful place, even called ‘Paris of the North’ (maybe that’s why I actually like it so much!), lost most of its charm during the II World War when it was completely destroyed. It was then rebuilt in the 50s and many of the historic places were restored to their original form. The Old Town, where only two buildings survived the heavy bombing, was restored according to paintings of Canaletto and his nephew Bellotto, who spent their time in poland portraying XVIII century Warsaw.
There is still plenty that reminds the war there – you can find bullet holes in many buildings in the centre or visit Warsaw Uprising Museum which pays the tribute to the fall of the city.
Modern Warsaw is vibrant and full of contrast – with busy city life and a skyline to prove it, forgotten streets in the old town and the best restaurants hidden well from strangers. Come before other tourists discover it. Plus you have us to uncover all the secrets to you :)
Visit Poland’s capital and discover the energy of this great survivor!
Marta has been calling Warsaw home for few months now so check her little corner for the best cafes and places where cool Warsaw people go at the moment.
I love Warsaw for its elegant dining experience, having the best Polish chefs, discrete (and a bit quirky sometimes) service and no nonsense approach. Well, Polish cuisine is usually as simple as it looks like – meat tastes like meat, desserts are sweet and portion are big enough to keep you going till the next meal.
‘U kucharzy’ (Ossolińskich 7) is second on my personal list of 5 top restaurants across Europe. It is owned by a Polish family, the Gesslers, with a long tradition in gastronomy and I think all their knowledge just summed up to create this wonderful restaurant. Nothing is really serious in this place. It is located in a forgotten basement of once popular hotel, and is full of staff who you would think have been there since 80s (and who probably still think that the world around them hasn’t changed that much since then), chefs serving their dishes and making them in an open kitchen, menu changing every day according to what’s available at the moment… If you are lucky you can even be accompanied to your dinner by a piano player.
I like their week day lunch options which come at a very affordable price of 30 PLN (~7£). These lunches are exactly as our Polish mothers would served them at home – soups to start with, big portions of meat with potatoes and vegetables (my favourite is there carrot with ginger) for main, a piece of cake for dessert and kompot to drink (light drink made of fresh fruit boiled in water with sugar).
‘U Kucharzy’ is not only about the food – it’s about the whole experience, performance, passion for the guests, everything a bit quirky but definitely worth trying.
If you feel like something small later in the evening try Przekaski zakaski (Krakowskie Przedmieście 13). This little bistro is 24/7 and belongs to the same Gessler family as ‘U kucharzy’.
Try traditional Warsaw style aperitif, ‘Lorneta and meduza’ (binoculars and jellyfish) – two shots of frozen Polish vodka and a portion of … pigs’ trotters in aspic. I know what it sounds like but trust me after two shots of vodka you may actually like it.
All served by Mr Roman (Pan Roman)– an institution of Przekaski zakazki, a man who has his own fan club on facebook and who probably knows everyone you should know in Warsaw.
At Delikatesy ‘Na Wynos’ (next door) you can buy the best of the Gesslers to take away. Try their pączki (Polish doughnuts), they taste like I remember from my childhood, or jagodzianki (wild blueberry buns), so good that you need to arrive really early to actually be able to buy any.
And to rest and let you body slowly digest the food go to a nearby Saski Park and enjoy its elegant royal charm.
End of part I
Check us soon for part II to learn more about elegant dining places in Warsaw. Ane let us know what you think so far!