Krakow historic restaurant Grodek offers delicacies of Polish cuisine with Italian and French twists. Library-bar for cigars’ lovers, cocktails served on the hotel’s roof with amazing view on the Cracow’s Old Town, live jazz concerts….
Restaurant Grodek: Historical Background
Restaurant Gródek is part of the luxury hotel located in Krakow’s Old Town, next to its green belt - Planty.
It faces an end of the little street called “Na Gródku” - seemingly a bit forgotten place, despite its prestigious downtown location …
Probably due to this “lost in the city” location at the edge of the Old Town, the restaurant used to be called “Cul-de-Sac” (in French it literally means “Butt of the bag”, but usually the term is understood as “Dead-end-street”).
This apparent “insignificance” of the place masks the long time of glory and prosperity the area enjoyed during its almost thousand years history.
It was here where at the turn of the millennium first Slavic settlements have been established. By the end of the 13th century the area was already fortified enclosing the castle and several buildings within the system of defensive walls surrounded by the moat. During the 14th century the fortified area (in Polish called “Gród” or softly Gródek) was integrated into the greater Cracow.
Left - Facade of the five star Hotel Grodek housing the namesake restaurant - view from Planty....
Right - Signs on the wall:
Address - ul. Na Grodku 4 (4, Str. Na Grodku), Krakow
Historic Hotels of Europe
Strong footprints left by Grodek on the Cracow's cityscape are still visible in our times, notably crooked streets (most of Cracow’s Old Town was laid-out around the Main Market Square in sections of rectangular blocks). From those times there are also visible traces of defensive gates and some gothic relics in cellars of surviving post-Medieval structures.
The origins of the structure today housing the hotel Grodek and namesake restaurant can be traced down to two 14th century buildings. Modernized and enlarged throughout the past centuries the buildings were finally connected together in 1878 making a beautiful edifice we can witness today. Due to its historically significant past, the hotel is included on the list of the Historic Hotels of Europe.
Restaurant Grodek: Muzeum and Art Gallery
Frankly, Grodek is one of the most distinctive restaurants opened in Krakow in the past few years. On top of obvious culinary functions Grodek surprises guests with its little archeological museum (probably the only one of this kind located in the restaurant).
Most of objects displayed on the walls (some from 12th and 13th centuries) have been found in the area during recent reconstruction works. May be in an attempt to bring some sort of a “time-equilibrium”, the restaurant also houses a little gallery of modern art.
Collection of the archeological findings from the Grodek area
The glass-ceiling covering large section of the restaurant allows the sunlight to joyfully play on tables during sunny days despite Grodek’s underground location. In reciprocity of favors, guests in the safety of restaurant’s walls can stare at the blue sky or barrier of green trees in the nearby garden – both rather rare opportunities in a densely packed downtown.
Restaurant Grodek: Polish Cuisine with European twists
Being part of the historical five star hotel obliges Grodek restaurant to respect old traditions yet at the same time to keep up with the modern time luxury.
Cover of the Polish cookbook by Stanislaw Czerniecki from 1682.
Following this historical spirit, Grodek’s cuisine largely uses refined recipes from the oldest “surviving” Polish cookbook “Compendium Ferculorum or a collection of dishes and recipes”. The book written by Stanislaw Czerniecki (Master Chef of prince Lubomirski) was published in 1682 soon becaming a sort of "Kitchen Bible". In its three chapters it presents 333 recipes and more importantly - numerous “secrets” from the aristocratic “Haute-Cuisine”.
According to testimonials left by restaurant’s guests, current chef Mr. Rafał Targosz (well recognized in Krakow for his culinary talents) brought the old recipes to the new highs.
Italian wine from Castello di Tagliolo....
Although you can easily find the culinary details on the restaurant’s website, let me mention here just few mouth-watering dishes like for example: Lamb fricassee spiced with tarragon (starter), Cannelloni roasted with chanterelles and poultry (entry) or Guinea fowl with silky stuffing and forest mushrooms ragout, Pheasant fillet served on Italian cabbage leaves, Saddle of venison in vine and chocolate sauce (sounds “fantastic”), Wild boar tenderloin in jasmine, Trout in vermouth sauce (as main dishes).....
You should also notice a large selection of excellent Italian vines imported from the famous cellars in Castello di Tagliolo, equally great French vines Coste Rousse and Hungarian Tokaj. The last one may be less familiar to Westerners, so it may be worth to mention that the Tokaj’s viniculture at the Hungarian foothills of the Carpathian Mountains has almost thousand year long tradition :-)....
The restaurant pledges that here the time slows down and the “true pleasure of dining” is re-established….
The glass-ceiling covering large section of the restaurant allows the sunlight to joyfully play on tables ....
Some foreigners may tend to link Polish Cuisine with “pierogi” or few other unique meals characterizing this part of the Europe, but that would be a big simplification. During centuries Polish aristocracy and so-called “noble-class” (szlachta) “enthusiastically” adopted many customs, habits and trends from Italy and later France (obviously including those related to the kitchen). The big “opening” came with an Italian Princess Bona (of the Sforza family) who in 1518 became the wife of the Polish King Zygmunt I.
Although in Europe, the Queen Bona is widely respected for her patronage and promotion of the Renaissance culture, in Poland she is rather remembered as the Culinary Queen. She introduced to the Polish kitchen many new vegetables - for example celery, leeks, lettuce, “wrinkled” cabbage (till these days called in Poland - Italian cabbage) and several dishes previously unknown in this part of the world (she also brought her own cooks and gardeners). That’s one of the reasons that the Traditional Polish Cuisine (undeniably having many unique “Slavic” flavors) has also strong West-European twists.
The elegant library serves as a bar where you can relax with friends having a drink....
The restaurant Grodek with its Polish menu “leaning” towards Italian and French dishes may be the best example of this historical “culinary assimilation” process.
In order to better represent and promote this richness, Grodek periodically changes the menu introducing seasonal dishes. To make it clear - regardless of the season of the year, the restaurant Grodek can be the favorite destination place for "carnivorous" foodies…. In this or other versions and cuts you can always count on meat there….
It may be worth to mention that in last few years the restaurant was recommended by Michelin.
Next to the main restaurant rooms there is a stylish library. Comfortable sofas and armchairs, fireplace and plenty of books make this elegant room an ideal place for a five o’clock tea or coffee and cigar! As the matter of fact it is the only place in the restaurant where you can smoke (waiter will politely point out that you cannot smoke in the “museum”). The library-bar also offers a variety of drinks including alcohols helping to “melt-down” in the charming atmosphere of this old English pub-like room.
Gallery of Pictures
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Left - part of the archeological exposition
Center - "Sunroom" offers a window to the outside world
Right - Beautiful entrance with old wooden-beams ceiling....
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Comfortable sofas and armchairs, fireplace and plenty of books make this elegant room an ideal place for a five o’clock tea or coffee and cigar! .....
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Other side of the story - or "what's behind the glass.....
Summer time the restaurant Grodek operates a cocktail bar on the hotel’s roof. Thanks to the view on the “Planty” (Cracow Old Town’s Green Belt) and the neighborhood, your emotional feelings may rival these “induced” by alcoholic drinks.
Enthusiasts of music may combine dining pleasures with musical spectacles.
Each Thursday (for certainty please check with the restaurant), the group Niteline Jazz (Waldemar Gołębski – EVI, Tomasz Kobiela – guitar, Kajetana Galas – Hammond organ Marcin Nenko – double bass) is giving an amazing live performance presenting all shades of blues that you can find in the classical jazz.
This time: A touch of jazz from the fifties. American and polish jazz in one concert.
Aficionados of these tunes may suddenly find themselves in a “hot” atmosphere of New Orleans from 30’s and 40’s (while still being in the Old Town of Krakow). Others may prefer South-American "climate" of samba and bossa-nova It’s magic.
Bon Appétit, cheers and have a fun!
I hope that you enjoyed this virtual visit to the restaurant Grodek. You may decide to gain your own dining experience in this distinctive place. However, if before making the reservation you would like to check on other restaurants then here is the place to go: Old Town Cracow Restaurants
If you enjoyed this visit, then please share your experience with friends :-)
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