Driving along Niepodległości Avenue up the Wrzeszcz district, at 23 Uphagena Street you will find one of Gdańsk’s most characteristic residences, Patschke’s Villa, also known as Uphagen’s Villa (Willa Uphagena). Its original name indicates that it was erected by Rudolf Patschke, one of Gdańsk’s wealthiest citizens in the early 20th century. He was also a co-owner of Gustaw Springer & Nach Likor Fabrik, a company manufacturing Gdańsk liqueurs. After the war, the building housed the British consulate and later it was home to Radio Gdańsk and Gdańsk Business Club. The Villa Uphagena Restaurant was ceremonially opened in 2005, after a thorough and very costly renovation of the entire building.
Approaching the Villa Uphagena, we see a stylish two-storey building with a mansard roof and characteristic windows. The interior is a mixture of styles: Baroque, Rococo, and Art Nouveau. From the very entrance, our attention is drawn by the genuine majolica from the manufactory in Kadyny, which can be found in such quantities only in three places in Europe at present. Original elements of décor also include fireplace marbles, stained-glass wndows, and the incredible staircase that tells of the interwar splendour. On entering the restaurant, we face the choice between a few rooms with characteristic names: oriental, crystal, or green cabinet. Such residential design of the restaurant’s interior makes it cosy despite the very elegant décor. What adds to the atmosphere is the incredibly light and pleasant music that can be heard in each of the rooms.
As we learnt during our visit, over the last few years the restaurant has played host to celebrities such as Prince Albert II of Monaco, Jean Michel Jarre, David John Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and many others.
The Villa Uphagena Restaurant, which is the culinary kingdom of Chef Michał Guz, is famous for its delicious and sophisticated Polish cuisine with elements of Kashubian cuisine. Michał’s cooking is based on truly natural flavours. Most ingredients are supplied directly from producers: cheeses and honeys from Kashubia, mushrooms and bison grass from Hajnówka, ducks from the Lublin region, edible snails from Masuria, and saffron milkcaps directly from the Bieszczady Mountains. In the building, there is also a tank in which sturgeons are bred and from which they are taken straight to the oven or to the frying pan.
What dominates in the menu is meats, game, and fish. We can order, for example, wild boad and roe deer ragout, rabbit pâté with liver, or pancakes stuffed with crayfish necks. Apart from the permanent menu, there is also a seasonal insert, changing four times a year, and dishes not included in the menu, such as a bison steak, that are offered on a particular day only.
For an appetizer, we chose deer carpaccio. Several slices of deer tenderloin appeared on the plate – fairly thickly sliced for a carpaccio. Despite the misleading name, the meat proved to be perfect in taste. It was soft and juicy, slightly pink inside. The delicate taste went well with the piquant cranberry balsamic sauce, in which spice overtones were strongly felt. The dish was served with spicy arugula, sweet strawberry, and a pear cooked al dente in orange juice. This perfect appetizer can also make a separate light meal.
For the main course, we decided to have sturgeon and duck tenderloins. Both dishes turned out to be a perfect choice. The sturgeon fillet was distinguished by a delicate taste, counterpointed by slices of bronzed onions. Served in a springlike manner over green asparagus, with blanched carrots, cauliflower and courgette, it made a very light and appetizing dish. We ordered a glass of chilled white wine with it. Heavenly.
The next dish was duck tenderloins. Tender and delicate, the meat melted in the mouth. The sauce served for duck was prepared on the basis of meat stock and made a perfect combination with the venisons. As an extra, there was a salad of various kinds of lettuce combined with seasonal fruits: raspberries, cowberries, and strawberries with caramel and strawberry sauce poured over them. A very good and refreshing combination: it matched the venisons masterfully.
As the Villa Uphagena Restaurant is famous for its confectionery tradition, meringues and fruit tarts waited for us at the very entrance: we chose the recommended date meringue. We had eaten excellent meringues before, but that one surpassed our wildest expectations. The crispy meringue spread with a layer of mascarpone-based coffee and date mousse turned out to be one of the best desserts we have ever eaten. Not too sweet, with a taste well-balanced between the crispy meringue and the fluffy cream, plus black coffee with that – it was sheer poetry of taste.
Our visit to the Villa Uphagena will certainly be an unforgettable one. We were enthralled by the atmosphere of one of Tricity’s most elegant restaurants, its professional service, and its cosiness. The ambience and style of this place as well as the amazing cuisine should satifsy even the most discriminating tastes. We can safely recommend this restaurant as a place both for a lavish dinner and for a moment of sweet pleasure such as a date or orange maringue with a cup of strong cream coffee.
Deer carpaccio – 31 PLN
Sturgeon fillet – 62 PLN
Duck tenderloins – 52 PLN
Date meringue – 19 PLN
Text and photos: Iwona Kowalska
THE VILLA UPHAGENA RESTAURANT
Jana Uphagena 23, Gdańsk
tel.: +48 58 345 83 72
[mapa]ul. Jana Uphagena 23, Gdańsk[/mapa]