In honour of the Royal Visit to Poland of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this week, I would like to take you to a very exclusive restaurant in South Kensington: Daquise. And in case you live in London and you haven’t sorted out your plans for the weekend, grab the phone and book a table for a delicious Polish dinner.
Despite the name and the outside look, this little restaurant is a truly legendary dining place in London, as it was founded in 1947 and it has kept the same aristocratic and nostalgic allure of those time. Its historic importance goes way beyond the culinary sphere: during the Second World War, the president in exile used Daquise as one of his unofficial headquarters. This is to testify that there is no better way than ‘doing business’ and ‘making important decision’ over food.
The interiors will satisfy even the most sophisticated Instagram lover as everything looks so authentic and lived: from the wooden floor that creaks at every move to the distressed walls covered with pictures and drawings of Polish kings and members of the elite underground society. It looks like a movie set and it would be the perfect location for a 40s style inspired theme party.
And the food? The food is divine, truly Polish and some dishes remind me of my grandma’s cuisine. Every guest can indulge in the most common Polish delicacies, from the vegetable salad to the beetroot soup, from the famous pierogi to veal escallops. The best bit is how most of the dishes are served directly from the chef himself straight onto your plate, making the whole experience much more personalized and unique.
I usually go for one appetizer or two, followed by the main course, which should leave your tummy extremely satisfied. Also at the beginning you will be served with fresh Polish bread and butter, which can be extremely dangerous and addictive, as it is SO insanely delicious that you’ll ask for more and by the time your first appetizer arrives, you’ll be already full. Don’t say that I didn’t tell you.
What are my recommendations? First of all, if you are vegetarian, you might struggle a little bit, but it won’t be impossible to find something suitable for you: I would go with a safe bet and order the Sałatka Jarzynowa (vegetable salad), the selection of meat-free Pierogi – ask for pierogi ruskie with potatoes and white cheese – and the Jajka Faszerowane (Polish style stuffed eggs which are to-die-for!). You can warm up yourself with one of the soups for the main course and of course at the end you should have enough room for more than one dessert.
And for the meat lovers out there, choose the Eskalopki cielęce a la Toklas (veal escallops served with a white wine creamy sauce along with potatoes noodles) or the traditional Schabowy, which is similar to the Viennese Schnitzel.
- 5 out of 5
- Price range: ££
- Perfect for a romantic dinner for two where you can channel your inner Bogart – Bergman romance in Casablanca or for a group get-together on a Saturday evening
If you are a fan of Polish cuisine, I would also recommend the following restaurants and cafes in London:
This is a restaurant / cafè in Kensington, 5 minutes’ walk from both the Royal Albert Hall and the V&A. It’s very posh, elegant and quite pricey, however the food is as good as in Daquise. You can pop in for a tea or for pre-dinner cocktail / Polish beer, sitting in their marvelous dining area with pure white walls and almost imperious chandeliers. A truly luxury feeling.
Price range £££
Located in South London, near Southwark tube station, Baltic is not really a Polish restaurant, it’s more an Eastern European one, with dishes from the Baltic area (hence the name). What I really like about this place is the design, as it is very modern, minimalist, almost Scandinavian. Aside from being a restaurant, it has also a very fancy and quite popular bar at the entrance, which can get very noisy, especially over the weekend. Dish you can’t miss: the Steak Tartare.
Price range £££ / Book in advance is highly recommended, especially since the restaurant offers as well a pre-theatre menu.
If you are on a budget and want to eat like the locals do in the traditional bar mleczny (literally ‘milky bars’), then this is the place for you. The POSK Café Maja is located within the Polish Cultural Center in Hammersmith and the food is very simple, yet delicious and home-made. Ideal for a quick-lunch or simply a
huge slice of cake with a tea in the afternoon. There is no need to book a table, but over the weekend it can get quite crowded, so don’t get too stressed if you’ll need to queue to get your order.
Price range £
This is probably my favourite patisserie in the world. Every time I am in Poland I go there and every time I make an effort (naaah, not really) to try a new cake / dessert. To my extreme happiness and also to my fiance, Sowa can be found in Western London, Ealing Broadway. Their cakes are mouth-watering and delicious, but they won’t make you feel guilty, because they are not sweet at all, meaning you can eat as many as you want (!!). Kiddin’. The sweet selection ranges from traditional Polish cakes like Sernik (a sort of cheesecake) or Szarlotka (crumble cake with apples) to more original ones with fruits base or cream or chocolate. You can also go for an ice cream. Don’t miss: Kremówka a.k.a. Pope John Paul II favourite sweet treat.
Price range £