Saturday, June 26, 2010

At The Gesslers'

It's impossible to sample the finest of Warsaw's gastronomy without running into the name Gessler. Magda and Marta Gessler, both ex-wives of a Mr. Gessler, run competing networks of restaurants, which are in a perpetual battle for the title of the utmost swank. Both Gesslers' restaurants are high-class and mostly serve fine dining food (the prices reflect as much.)

The most famous Gessler restaurant is U Kucharzy. It's noted for having the best steak tartar in the city (possibly in Poland.) Now, I've never been, and I've been promising a certain someone to go there for quite a long time (since I heard about it way back in 2008) but I have read some reviews; looked at the menu; decided that I needed to make about twice what I make now to consider dining there. As said stated before, these prices are not for the weak of wallet.

My most-oft frequented watering hole in Warsaw has got to be Przekąski Zakąski. It's a twenty-four hour snack bar that serves as a sort of annex to U Kucharzy. Every drink (beer, vodka, tea, coffee, wine) is priced at a reasonable 4PLN or 1€. The starter dishes (the only food they have) are priced at a very reasonable 8PLN or 2€. While the beverages are actually what you pay for, i.e. second-rate beer and vodka, their food is a bargain. The portions are exactly what the name implies, appetizer-sized, but are both tasty and classy. Dishes such as the sledzie (herring) and gzik (white cheese with potatoes and tomatoes) are my favorites (I've never been in when they have offered tatar, but it is up on their wall.) The selection also includes sausages, pate, pork knuckle in aspic, amongst other things. The atmosphere is almost that of any other bar (smoking is outside.) It's perpetually packed and there is barely any seating (expect to eat upright if you go in evening hours.) The service is quick an efficient and they always have more help than they really need.
A small shot of the bar as the keeps dish up food and drink.

The only other Gessler establishment which I have patronized is Qchnia Artystyczna. Located in the dismal-looking Zamek Ujazdowski, QA tries to boast the best view of all the Gessler restaurants with its terrance. The service there is most wonderful.
It's a pity I don't have a picture of my pistachio-ed chicken salad with creamed avocado sauce and a delightful ginger-carrot chutney (which you can buy at their shop.) Qchnia Artystyczna is probably the only real reason to visit Ujazdowski. I remember a second-rate modern art museum being stationed there, but by the looks of it, the Zamek might be condemned any time soon.
One of the best bowls of chlodnik I've had in Poland.

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