Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Open daily 13.00-22.00. Address: Ambrożego Grabowskiego 8, 30-126 Kraków.
Phone: +48 12 634 5522. @ http://zielonakuchnia.eu/en/
Zielona Kuchnia, 'Green Kitchen' in Polish, appeared a few years ago on a back street off Ul. Karmelicka, and despite being on no tourist thoroughfare, has gained a very solid word-of-mouth reputation and internet buzz, thanks in no small measure to its high Trip Advisor rating – it consistently rates there as one of the highest-rated eateries in town. So I went along on a clement Sunday evening in February to check it out. Despite its name, Zielona Kuchnia is not a vegetarian restaurant – on the contrary, it serves a variety of very meaty dishes – but it does boast a very verdant garden in the summer, which is currently decorated with some jolly lights, creating an instantly welcoming, cosy feel. Entered through an archway which gives out to the courtyard, it’s actually one of the nicest spots you can find to sit out in the city on a summer’s eve, but it wasn't quite warm enough for that yet.
The interior is intimate, on two levels, with tasteful and understated décor, bare brickwork, wooden stairs and floors. Easy-listening music is set to low and the lighting matches it. We took a seat upstairs, which we had to ourselves. The menu is fairly short and simple, yet does provide plenty of variety. Bartek Płocienniak, trained in London, has created an imaginative, seasonal menu with simple, tasty, fresh ingredients, with classic European and French-inspired dishes including beef, duck, goose, salmon and lamb amongst others, and a smattering of soups, salads and pastas. The wine list is reasonably varied too, with the usual vintages from around the world. I plumped for a fruity house red dry and followed it up with a Paulaner; the beer list happily also includes a Czech beer or two.
Starters come priced around the 20zl mark. I kicked off with a pâté made of goose liver and served with moist brown bread, marinated shallots and Cumberland seasoning – a tangy sauce which complemented the rich, velvety, meaty spread. Delightful. My partner had a tantalizing starter of grilled beef sirloin steak in ginger and cinnamon seasoning, served with arugula lettuce, prunes and cashews. Spicy and sweet, this seemed to be another winner. I followed this up with a Portugese fish soup with seafood, Sambuca, sliced vegetables and saffron. The fresh king prawns and mussels were juicy, and when combined with the tasty broth, hot, hearty and delicious. The alcohol added a novel twist. Priced at 12zl, this represented reasonable value.
The mains raised the bar price-wise – set between 32zl and 65zl, they do make this eatery firmly a mid-range choice. I had half portions of both the lamb and duck, two of my favourites. Lamb, so hard to get in this city and so mystifyingly unpopular among Poles, was on the bone and served with goat cheese and mint seasoning, fried potatoes and crispy, parsnip chips. It was tender and very tasty, and the accompanying sides complemented very well, especially the goat’s cheese. Similarly, the duck fillet was served with a cherry vodka sauce, caramelized apple, braised cabbage and baked potatoes with thyme, all of which were cooked, and served, with a great deal of thought and care.
Dessert arrived with a coffee laced with Baileys. I had a ‘triple chocolate delight’; dark, milk and white chocolate, served in a crispy chocolate shell with a raspberry sauce. This was a light, delicious, though highly-calorific, conclusion to a very satisfying meal. My partner’s was even better – hot chocolate fondue with red fruit seasoning and a very creamy ice-cream. Very naughty. Overall then, Zielona Kuchnia is cosy, atmospheric, relaxing and welcoming while providing you with top-quality food at mid-range prices, and the service is also impeccable. It's a restaurant which provides fine dining in non-white table cloth surrounds. Hard to fault anything here, and for once Trip Advisor is right. I'm giving this the green light. Location ***
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