It took me just a bit more than a 10-minute drive from the center of Gdańsk to reach an idyllic countryside location. A stud farm, beautiful brick buildings, green space and surrounding woodland, which dampens the sounds of civilization. The Tabun Restaurant, which I’m writing about today, is a place I have known for a long time. I love to come here in summer, sit in a deckchair and sip my lemonade, admiring the green view. In winter, the place is also magical, especially when it is snowy. Then there is nothing nicer than a glass of mulled beer or wine after a walk at Lake Otomin, followed by a bite of marinated herring!
Now I discover Tabun in the first rays of a shy, early spring sun. Together with the co-owner, Agata Falkiewicz-Ponikowska, we look into the garden, where rhubarb grows its first shoots, talk about the kitchen, preserves, cheese production, living off the beaten track. We also visit the surroundings, and finally I can find out about the genesis of this place.
Tabun Restaurant tempts with legendary flavour
– It started when my parents bought the land in the eighties. My father dreamed about horses, and after some time he founded a stud farm. At the beginning there was a cafe for stables’ guests here, and we also organized special events. Then the Tabun Restaurant was established, originally run by a leaseholder. I’ve been running it for 10 years – says the owner – Some may remember Tabun from the second series of “Kitchen Revolutions”, you can find a trace of the program in the menu – our marinated herring – she adds.
Seasonal and local ingredients
From the very beginning, the restaurant has been using seasonal, local, home-made ingredients. And this locality is not a cliche: many products, including eggs, and some vegetables come from a friendly farm, meat from a local butcher, goat cheese is made on site, you can drink home-made cider (I will write about it later), and rye sourdough bread is baked by the owner’s Dad. There are impressive jars of homemade tincture, restaurant guests can try (Agata’s favorite liqueur is made with mirabelle prunes picked in the area). At the back of the kitchen there is a pantry full of homemade preserves used in Tabun. Everything but the kitchen sink! A variety of jams, confitures, marinated pumpkin, sweet pears in vinegar brine (served, for example, with dumplings stuffed with goose meat) are just some of the delicacies that I saw with my own eyes.
Kashubian family traditions of the chef of Tabun Restaurant in Otomin
The menu changes four times a year, and a daily dinner specials card is also on the menu. Mariusz Żmichowski, a chef with 30 years of experience, has been in charge of the Tabun kitchen for six years. As he grew up in Kashubia, his menu includes traditional flavors from the kitchen of his mother and grandmother. So we can try fragrant marjoram and garlic goose lard, a Kashubian specialty, or melt in the mouth goose-stomach stew, the best I have ever tried. I really like the fact that the chef braises them with the addition of forgotten, unappreciated today rutabagas, which together with the pumpkin and carrots add delicate sweetness to the dish. Beef cheeks, served with horseradish sauce and home-made gnocchi, are equally delicate and soft.
There is also pork chop on the bone or wild boar rolls with dried fruits and red wine for meat lovers. Fish enthusiasts can, for example, try a trout fillet baked in sour cream with white wine and Brussels sprouts. Tabun also cares about vegetarians, offering interesting and modern meatless dishes. Currently the menu includes roasted parsley in an aromatic sauce based on port, tomatoes and mushrooms.
At the end I’m trying the famous herring in a delicate vinegar brine, served with a resilient slice of rye bread and a roasted beetroot salad with lentils and homemade goat cheese, which is soft as a cloud and has a delicate flavor.
Cider in Tabun Restaurant
It is worthwhile leaving the Tabun restaurant with a bottle of homemade cider. The Tabun cider I am talking about is produced by Agata’s husband, Michał Ponikowski. He has been involved in its production for several months. What started as a hobby, over time turned into a larger scale business. Cider is made from old apple varieties that give it sweetness and clarity. It is dry and wonderfully refreshing. You can drink it on site, but also buy a take-away bottle. Agata and Michał revealed that in the future they are planning a tasting menu with cider in the main role – it promises to be delicious!