Wierzynek is one of the oldest restaurants in Poland. Its tradition dates back to 1364 when an abundant royal feast was organised by a wealthy merchant – Mikolaj Wierzynek. Apparently, it was so good the guests celebrated for 20 days and nights.
The present-day Wierzynek Restaurant, which opened in 1945, honours that legend and keeps it as an inspiration. The interior of the restaurant, with its draped curtains, beautifully set tables and golden details are suitable for royalty. The food – traditional Polish flavours with a modern twist, presented with some theatre to it.
Ever since I learned about the restaurant from my Polish language teacher (she went there as a student, after reading about some well-known author being fond of the place, and all she could afford was a pot of tea, so she spent an hour there, drinking the tea very slowly) I wanted to experience dining there. I lived in Krakow for 5 years, walked past almost every day, but I simply couldn’t afford it.
Now, coming back to Poland as a tourist, knowing what Australian prices are like, I had to book us a table for dinner service. I was ready for my royal feast and expected a lot.
The first impression was great – making our way upstairs via a grand staircase and being seated by the window with the view of the Main Market Square. Golden hour made Krakow look even more beautiful. The ambience, with delicate music in the background, was good.
I knew what I wanted food-wise but wasn’t sure when it came to drinks. Our designated waiter was knowledgeable about the alcohols and made some fine suggestions on champagne and wines, which allowed us to quickly decide on the order.
And we started the evening on a really high note. Our amuse bouche was goat cheese foam with beetroot jelly, sprinkled with chicory powder, served in a cocktail glass. Delicate & elegant. I started smiling after the first spoonful and was already sure that Wierzynek will live up to the expectations.
For entree, I went for a herring two ways: fried & marinated in vinegar and marinated in sherry. Hubby was contended with his delicate, almost melting in the mouth duck (carpaccio of duck marinated in slivovitz and smoked with roasted apples & cinnamon served with red cabbage mousse and plum sauce).
Then, our mains arrived under silver cloches which added the element of theatre and surprise. This time, I went for a duck breast with zucchini flower served with goats cheese, celery & potato gratin and blackcurrant sauce. It was beautiful and juicy but I was in love with Hubby’s plate. His saddle of roe deer on carrot mousse with chilli and clove, with herb and berry powder, smoked plum dumpling, parsley and wine sauce looked like a piece of forest. Stunning. I was actually glad I didn’t order it for myself, I wouldn’t want to ruin it.
When it came to ordering drinks and desserts I couldn’t choose. The dessert menu was too good. In a moment of craziness, I decided to go for 3 desserts and a vodka tasting (consisting of 4 shots of vodka for each of us). It’s not every day that we get to dine there, right?
The desserts arrived, looking even more stunning and scrumptious than I ever expected. After trying a little bit of every one of them, I was so thrilled by the experience I started crying tears of joy. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating again. I was on the verge of tears.
Three divine desserts, that I would order again and again:
on the right: gingerbread with beer served with Mikolaj Wierzynek’s slivovitz parfait and carrot ice cream; on the top: parsley-mango mousse served on rice crust with raspberry sauce; bottom: honey-caramelised porcini mushroom ice cream served on chocolate & nut soil with black currant sauce (which was the superstar of the whole evening for me).
How do I rate Wierzynek then? It doesn’t happen to me too often to be so moved by food. Actually, when I think about it now, I believe I’ve never been so emotional about a meal.
Leaving emotions out of it, it definitely was the best dining experience I’ve ever had in Poland. Great, traditional Polish flavours with a modern twist and excellent presentation.
Yes, it is expensive by Polish standards*. However, compared to Western European or Australian prices it almost feels like a bargain for what you’re getting.
tip: book online and ask for a table with the Main Market Square view
address: Main Market Square 16
* the meal with all the drinks cost us 572PLN, which is roughly 200AUD. At my first job in Krakow, over 10 years ago, I was earning almost the same amount MONTHLY.
Which dessert would you choose? Or would you order all three like we did?
see it in the video (starts about 6:53):