Beyond bigos and kaszanka

Ognisko Restaurant, (photo by Ognisko Restaurant)
Ognisko Restaurant

Polish cuisine is not just a pork chop with cabbage. Sadly, many people still associate the country with greasy, boring food, rude service, plastic tablecloths and vodka with pickles (ok, maybe the vodka part isn't so bad). But while everything in Eastern Europe is changing, so too is the food, all thanks to the people of Vistula Country. The great thing is, some of the best local specialties can be found right here – in the heart of London.

Baltic

This fine Polish kitchen features in Time Out magazine’s 100 best restaurants list. The dishes are light and low-calorie, presented in an artisan but modern way. Each meal has its roots in traditional regional cooking but is tailored to the tastes of cosmopolitan Londoners. Of course you can find dumplings and stew (let’s be honest – we’re talking about Poles…) – but with a pinch of finesse – and you’ll be really surprised by the end result. The same applies to drinks – all cocktails are variations of Polish favourites. So if you’re looking for a culinary adventure, hop out at Southwark station and try Baltic.

Baltic Restaurant

Ognisko

You have to go off the beaten track of crowded South Kensington if you want to find this Slavic restaurant – but it’s totally worth it! Excellent authentic food, from venison to beetroot soup, will take you on a journey to the Polish Golden Age. Smoked salmon, marinated herring, potato pancakes and black sausage are only a few examples of traditional treats from the East, and all this in a Bond movie gentleman’s club setting with impeccable service. If you’re lucky enough to find this hidden gem during a sunny interval, there’s a large terrace perfect for alfresco dining. Not-to-be-missed, this is one for excellent, old school (and in this case old means experienced) Polish cuisine.

Mamuska!

If you’re looking for an affordable polish meal for everyone then Mamuska! – Kitchen and Bar in Elephant and Castle - is a hit. Authentic, wholesome polish dishes like dumplings, chicken soup and hunter stew at very reasonable prices served by chatty and helpful staff will make you feel at home. If you don’t fancy flying to Poland this weekend but have a genuinely strong craving for traditional, homemade polish food, head up to Mamuska! and you won't leave disappointed.

Café Magnolia

You could never imagine what one can find in this tiny, cosy café! Nice, friendly atmosphere, amazing coffee, delicious homemade cakes (maybe even too good if you’re planning to stop by just for one piece) – that and much more is hidden behind the doors of Café Magnolia. It’s a great spot for a quick cup over a laptop or for an afternoon with old friends - and the baristas really know their stuff. If you’re in the area, drop by for one of the many sweet, guilty pleasures – it’s a must!