The line of townhouses stretching along the Motława River in Gdańsk is one of the most interesting culinary malls in Poland. At its very end, just behind the Hilton Hotel, there is a special place: the 1918 Kubicki Restaurant. Its owners, Mr and Mrs Zaleski, embarked on the mission of recreating the flavours that have accompanied Gdańsk since 1918. They are assisted in this undertaking by an exceptionally hard-working and talented Chef Damian Mazurowski.
Uninterruptedly since 1918, this address has been home to Bruno Kubicki’s Polish restaurant. Located in the Free City of Gdańsk at first, the restaurant made it through the troubled times of communism in Poland. It has played host to celebrities and famous people, such as Telly Savalas, Gunter Grass, Czesław Miłosz, Jan Nowak Jeziorański, or Profesor Jan Brzeziński. The Kubicki’s décor is a blend of pre-war Gdańsk and timeless elegance. The restaurant’s interior is warm and friendly, with details that please the eye, such as non-plastered walls of old brick or floor tiles reminiscent of old Gdańsk patterns. Beside vintage photos showing Gdańsk’s residents revelling on the Fish Market and heavy Gdańsk-style tables, there are comfortable, elegantly upholstered chairs and armchairs.
It is definitely worth stopping by at the Kubicki to relish the taste of Gdańsk’s characteristic ingredients, such as freshwater and saltwater fish or crayfish. Chef Damian Mazurowski makes a point of using all types of groats, which are very healthy and characteristic of old Polish cuisine; they acquire truly enchanting flavours in Damian’s hands.
We decided to try groats as well as fish in various forms. We started from soups – remarkable crayfish soup and interesting fish soup. Crayfish soup is an exquisite item on the menu and one rarely found in the restaurants of Gdańsk or anywhere else in Poland. The surprising thing about it is the intense and sweet flavour and, in this particular case, the addition of parsley oil powder. The soup contains crayfish necks, which have a pleasant taste and add refinement to the dish. The alternative is fish soup, served in a homely-looking WECK jar. It owes its bouquet to sole and salmon. The soup is a well-seasoned one and full of temperament.
If you don’t feel like soup, you can start your meal with “Gdańsk risotto” as an interesting appetizer. Its main ingredient is pearl barley cooked in tomatoes and bouillon. It is topped with prawns separated by a Parmesan chip. Gdańsk cuisine has always drawn on European ingredients, too, and so the Italian cheese and the prawns as topping should not come as a shock.
Eventually, time came for the main course. After consulting the waiter, we settled on sturgeon. Associated with delicious caviare, this fish has fine meat as well. It is supplied to the Kubicki from Kashubian fish farms, which guarantees freshness and taste. The way it is served pleases both the eye and the palate. The fillet is roasted in mushroom powder and served over little potato dumplings with an exceptionally tasty sauce. The main ingredient of the sauce is smoked salmon, and the distinctive addition that gives the dish a sour taste is capers. The dish combines a variety of textures and flavours. Every mouthful is a joy to the taste buds. We recommend it.
To those who wish to taste sea fish, we can recommend halibut, slowly cooked, in leek and Parmesan sauce with mushy peas, served with couscous… in a real shell.
Finally, we decided to have something sweet. Since the two of us felt that our appetites had largely been quenched, we ordered only one dessert. That was cigarette cake with nut mousse, accompanied by vanilla ice cream. With that, we were served a glass of parsley sorbet with the addition of orange juice and honey. The dessert was just to our liking: not at all tiresome and not excessively sweet but blending a variety of flavours and textures as good dishes should.
We spent about 200 PLN on a lavish three-course dinner, which was very generous and tasty. It is also possible to stop by at the restaurant for the second course alone or even for dessert only, but visiting this address on the culinary map of Gdańsk is a must. There are a few reasons to make a visit: firstly, the place is a fine piece of the city’s culinary history; secondly, Damian Mazurowski’s flavour compositions are extraordinarily balanced and exquisitely combine old-style ingredients with new trends. Décor at the Kubicki draws on the history of this part of Gdańsk and the harmonious interior design produces an uncommonly friendly space, which is essential to a fine restaurant meal at any time of day.
Fish soup – 18
Crayfish soup – 26
Gdańsk risotto – 25
Halibut – 49
Sturgeon – 65
Dessert – 20
Text and photos: Hubert Gonera
Wartka 5, Gdańsk
phone: 58 301 00 50
Restaurant is open every day from 12:00 to 24:00.
[mapa]Wartka 5, Gdańsk[/mapa]