Imagine preserved brick-clad chambers, uncompromising service, and newfound Polish enthusiasm for culinary experimentation.
Here, in the center of the old meat-packing distric, Jadka manages to meld old school traditions with an uncompromising eye for detail and modern cooking technique. In doing so, a brilliant tasting menu has emerged. It harnesses a range of flavor from the freshest Polish vegetables to the familiar aromas of Babcia’s go-to ingredients.
But, not without flipping the classic Polish dinner experience on its head first.
That’s why we had to visit with our Senior Food Correspondent (my mother) – Mrs. Chojnacki. The goal? To see just how appealing Poland’s modern menus are when shared among cross-generational travelers in the cultural heart of the country: Wroclaw.
Though somewhat difficult to spot (it’s not on the main square) we walked past the oak doors with golden hinges and into the gothic vaulted brick ceilings of this centuries’ old butchery-turned-haute-eatery not knowing just quiet what to expect. Though after 12 years as Jadka, and 6-months under current management, its reputation precedes it via word of mouth recommendations.
Immediately upon entering, cool earth-toned linens and fresh flowers greet diners with a ‘feel at home’ sense of being – if their home was out of the pages of Victoria or Country Living Magazine that is.
And, despite the lovely décor that’s naturally beautiful, staff are quick to take notice of you as much as you are of them (they sport similar linen attire). They’re friendly and genuine, though they never forget their white gloves when needed. It’s a sort of casual-chic establishment, one where you automatically feel like you’re dealing with a friend, who happened to go to a top-notch hospitality school, but remains quite familiar all the same.
Kosma, infinitely passionate and knowledgeable about each dish and potential wine pairing, walked our intimate trio through the Jadka experience.
The tasting menu starts at the pop of a champagne bottle (ask for Gost Art, and they’ll explain why it’s a must-try when you do). To cut the crispness of bubbly, it was paired with a puree of potato doused in spelt oil, dotted with speck and little cubed tomatoes.
While spooning savory bites inward, you can’t help but notice the undeniable charm and ambiance that envelops you, largely due to the upbeat tunes playing from strategically placed speakers throughout the restaurant. Picture the golden oldies of the 50s, 60s, and early 70s interspersed with soulful jazz– and then imagine they’re all Polish. For the purposes of our trip, where our table spanned almost four decades in age, it was perfection on repeat, each tune better and more nostalgic than the one that played before it.
This is the kind of place where you grab an award-winning bottle of wine, plunk down into the soft lime cushions whilst comforted by the warmth of the wooden panelling; swaying back and forth to the tunes of yesteryear, sharing stories all the while. Each enlivened with commencing sips of wine.
Following this sense of nostalgia, came a clever construction of smoked carp on a bed of cucumbers, pickled to varying degrees just like the guests (present company not excluded). Graced with a dollop of foam and a crispy kale wafer – it was a crowd pleaser. A healthy dose of infused oil dripped purposefully overtop. Accentuating each saline and sour mouthful only added to the well-balanced flavour profile.
Then there was the made-in-house rustic spelt-flour bread with old-world Polish garnishes (think pickles and smalec).
And though filling up on the bread is tempting (it’s some of the finest we’ve had), the steak tartar with polish chili (horseradish) arrived in minutes – before we could devour the second helping of Chleb (carbs).
It was with clockwork precision that the mains reached the table; well-orchestrated between sips of wine and new bottles being sampled. Pierogis with mutton and niedzwiedzi czosnek (wild black garlic) came first. A palette- teaser, it was hard to pinpoint the flavour: apricots and balsamic came to mind though neither is involved in this savour-faire.
In succession, the herbed Sander fillet with beetroot reduction enhanced by leek was served. And though easily compromised within a few bits, it was quickly replaced by veal with mushrooms, potatoes and capers. Plate after plate teased our tastebuds, so many in fact, that we started to have trouble remembering a time before sitting down to dinner. A good issue to have none the less.
Catching ourselves scratching our heads in contemplation about the amuse-bouche at the beginning of the evening; soon came the time for the denouement: finely sliced apples, stacked and covered in a semi-addictive malted sauce, with nuts, berries, and butter cream reduction to support. A dazzling pastry-free finish worth noting indeed.
Although not a place for those with tightened-purse-strings, it is definitely worth spoiling yourself here. And though a main can be enjoyed for around the equivalent of 20 € ($ 25 USD), there’s something particularly gratifying about sampling multiple plates at the chef’s behest that can’t be denied.
Travlr Blog suggests taking a group of friends or family to Jadka, despite how primed for date-night the resto may seem - cool linens, open-flamed candles and all. Ask for a wine recommendation, and reminisce the night away – being delighted by cleverly modern, Polish fare all the while. Try to guess the ingredients after a couple glasses in for added entertainment.
Text J.Patterson & M.Chojnacki (Editor)
Photography and Styling J.Patterson
Journalistic Note Taker: G.Chojnacki
To discover more of Nowa Polksa, get to know the Jadka experience via the images below. Hungry? Dining details here.