Oh look, it’s the 2nd of January. That can only mean one thing. Our anniversary. Sixteen years ago I crossed paths with someone that would put up with me, introduce me to travel, and change the rest of my life. To quietly toast the occasion we decided to try somewhere different, a cuisine we’ve had only once before. Polish.
The food from this neck of the world is hearty, meat-based and unfussy and the presence of beetroot, dill and horseradish add an earthyness and aroma to dishes such as crumbed pork, duck, herring and smoked sausages.
Translated, “na zdrowie“ means “on health” and is usually said when you lift your glass to toast, or when someone sneezes.
Na Zdrowie, the restaurant, themes its decor from the home country. The dimly-lit barn-like room is scattered with wooden tables and chairs, a large arched wooden faux door on the main wall, complete with medieval torches. Wicker pendants hang from the ceiling and cast patterns on the brick and plaster walls while a cluster of colourful folklore staues watch down from a shelf above. Menu’s come out on wooden paddles and service comes with a smile.
To start, we go for a shared plate of pierogi (16.9) – steamed or fried dumplings with stewed onion and bacon. These tasty little treasures resemble a dumpling you may find on a Japanese, Chinese or Nepalese menu. Absolutley delicious. Lightly fried yet still soft and filled with minced pork with a garnish of crumbly bacon and onion.
For mains we try the schab ze sliwkami (24.4) – pork loin stuffed with prunes and golabki (20.9) – cabbage roll stuffed with veal and rice with potato and light tomato sauce.
We weren’t as wowed by the mains as we were by the dumplings. The schab ze sliwkami was quite dry and a little tough though I did like the prune filling. It came with a side of unseasoned boiled potato sprinkled with dill, a tangy sauce and a few lettuce leaves. The menu promised a side of cwikla (grated beetroot and horseradish) but it never came. Maybe it was in the sauce?
The golabki was gentle in its flavours of veal mince, cabbage and slightly smokey tomato sauce. Boiled potatoes yet again and a sprinkling of carrot and green onion.