Last week scandinavianways went on a weekend vacation to Warsaw, Poland. We usually only write about Scandinavia but there was so many links to Sweden and Scandinavia in form of cultural heritage, similar food and wine as well as climate, architecture and history that we simply have to take a moment to let you have a story from this European gem.
Pictured above is the Culture Palace, a gift from the Soviet Union and Josef Stalin to the polish people. To this day one of the highest buildings in Europe. It stands in the modern parts of Warsaw where you find plenty of skyscrapers and a vibrant city life. More on that later. First we’ll start our weekend trip a bit more low tempo.
Lunch at Belvedere
We arrived on a Friday and decided to straight for lunch. And what a grand lunch it was! We went straight to the Lazienki Park and Restauracja Belvedere which is located at the south end of the park, easily accessible by car or taxi. The building used to be an orangery and is over 150 years old. Like in its early days, it is filled with impressive tropical plants. It was renovated into its current form in 2014 and nowadays it’s a very popular place for dinner, weekend lunch, business lunch, weddings, and other festivities. We would easily come back here to wine, dine and feast.
The atmosphere is very warm, welcoming and inviting. Here you can sit for long and just enjoy the stunning architecture, the interiors and the restaurant’s surroundings. The setting in the park is majestic!
We started off with a glass of Champagne before going all in for Belevedere’s fantastic food. As Scandinavians we were delighted to see how polish culinary traditions have evolved into a modern kitchen with delicate tastes and fantastic produce. Belvedere does this to perfection! With regional tastes, seasonal produce they have earned their recommendation in the guide Michelin – but we’d also like to recommend to try the polish wines served here! Wines produced in cold climate such as Poland give high acidity and very fresh, crisp wines.
We had the business lunch menu, starting with the stewed veal with pickles and capers sauce above. Super fresh in every aspect, with great balance between the acidity of pickled chanterelles and the veal, a true delight to kick off our culinary visit.
Our main course was a sea bream with new season vegetables and creamy potatoes. The spring onion and the carrot had been cooked perfectly al dente – the creamy potatoes were not at all heavy. Especially during lunch it’s important not to feel stuffed by the food, but to actually be able to go about the rest of your day afterwards. Belvedere makes sure to serve food that is light and fresh without loosing focus on taste.
For dessert the chef sent out this fantastic amaretto cake with brownie ice cream. At first sight it looks like chocolate cake and a heavy one too – but it is far from it. Fresh and light through and through.
Restauracja Belvedere is a restaurant we can highly recommend – the food is at high international level, service is attentive, staff very friendly and forthcoming. The interiors are beautiful and the surroundings are just fantastic! We took a walk through the park after lunch and found castles, monuments and even wild life – such as a fox sleeping tightly on the lawn. It’s a great area to kick off a relaxing weekend.
Warsaw is packed with history but one of its most prominent habitants was composer Frédéric François Chopin, born just outside Warsaw and portrayed in the statue above. Throughout or stay in Warsaw, Chopins music is easily accessible through concerts just about everywhere. There’s also a Chopin museum centrally located by the old town.
After this majestic walk we checked in to our hotel, Starwood-owned Luxury Collection Hotel Bristol, opened in 1901.
Bristol is a classical luxury hotel, the oldest hotel in Warsaw, hosting the Café Bristol – by many considered the best café in Warsaw. We checked in to an executive room which was quite spacious with all amenities one could ask for, super comfortable bed, high speed internet access, comfy chairs and a spacious bathroom. The Bristol is located right next to the old town, a stone throw from the majestic and grand opera house and within walking distance from the Wisla River, the shopping districts, and with metro, buses and the central station close at hand.
A heartfelt welcoming from the staff at reception and a welcoming by management waited for us in the room which really made us feel at home.
In the bathroom we also found products by one of our favorite perfume houses in the world, Swedish Byredo. Nice touch and a good choice.
Hotel Bristol has a SPA, a wine bar, a restaurant – and the Café Bristol has seats outside in the sun and well. This place is just what you would expect from old European luxury hotels. Warsaw and Poland is very affordable so we can not imagine why you would not check in to a five star hotel such as this. There really is no excuse not to spoil yourself with the best when you’re in Poland.
After our lengthy lunch we needed to check out the town and went for a stroll in the modern parts of Warsaw. Skyscrapers, shopping and a vibrant city awaited us. We went to the food halls and started in Hala Gwardii which is the first one of three connected halls, pure temples of great food and produce. Hala Gwardii has a lot of restaurants and anything you could possibly feel like eating can be found here.
After a looooong walk through the park and the city we ended our day with a drink. There are plenty of bars, cafés and pubs but a good cocktailbar is always a great choice. We started at the Panorama Sky Bar at Marriott hotel. Located on the 40th floor overlooking the city centre, right next to the Culture Palace you could not get a better overview of where you are.
Cocktails here are done with attention to detail and much bartending competence. The atmosphere is very international. It easily gets full so getting a reservation is a good choice. The view from up here is stunning and paralleled only by the drinks in your glass. Below is the Candy Sky cocktail, made from wild turkey bourbon whiskey infused with cocoa nibs, Martini Riserva Speciale rubino vermouth, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur and cherry balsamico. Delicious and a strong contender to a classic Manhattan cocktail or an Old Fashioned.
If you want something a bit more genuine Warsawian we can highly recommend the Kita Koguta bar located in the same area of town.
Kita Koguta is very rock chic, innercity busy and vibrant. Here bartenders cater to serve you something out of the ordinary. When ordering a Dry Martini the bartender instantly suggested a Vesper instead – Ian Flemings first composition for James Bond in iconic novel and film, Casino Royale. A perfect recommendation and excellent blend.
A good way to test the bartenders competence is always to order one of the classics and see how it’s made and how it tastes. We selected a Manhattan Cocktail which was made to perfection. A perfect end to a fantastic day. Warsaw showed itself from a much more modern and contemporary side than we had originally thought and we went to bed with great memories of a truly European busy city. The following day we’ll spend in the old town. Stay tuned for the next part.