Białystok in north-eastern Poland, has attracted settlers from various nationalities and religions over the centuries. The local cuisine has been influenced by this fusion of cultures but still retains its own regional identity. Here are some of the most exciting restaurants to try in the city.
The staff of Buła i Spóła take a simple premise – a burger – and execute it perfectly. All of their rolls and sauces are homemade, and they use generously sized 100 per cent beef patties. The rustic wooden interior and outside terraced area follow the same design philosophy that they use for their food: simple done right. If the best burger in Białystok isn’t what you’re after, they also stock salads, a range of sandwiches served in baked baguettes, and a number of different beers and non-alcoholic beverages.
MultiBrowar boasts a wider selection of draught beers than any restaurant in Poland, as evidenced by the 30 taps that lie at the centre of its stylish interior of wood and exposed brick. With flavorings ranging from fruit juice and chocolate to herbs and spices, you’ll have worked up an appetite by the time you decide with which selection you’ll wet your whistle. Luckily, the food at MultiBrowar is as acclaimed as the beer: the menu consists of hearty Polish cuisine like pork knuckle, potato pancakes, and pierogi, dumplings stuffed with minced meat, cabbage, mushrooms, and cheese.
No more opulent setting for a meal can be found in Białystok than here at the Branicki Palace complex, an 18th century edifice dubbed the “Versailles of Podlasie” at the time of its construction. Arsenał Restauracja serves the kind of food you would expect to eat underneath a chandelier; caviar, wild boar, veal with chanterelles, champagne shrimp. However don’t let the extravagance of the surroundings put you off should you be on a budget. Hearty Polish dishes are also on the menu, and for a reasonable price.
Restauracja Tokaj offers an alternative to the standard Polish dining experience while staying within the bounds of Eastern Europe. Here you can sample authentic Hungarian dishes such as the ever-popular goulash, listen to traditional Gypsy music, and then end your meal with a glass of pálinka, the fruit brandy enjoyed in the Carpathian Basin since the Middle Ages. Should you forget that you’re still in Poland, you only need to glance out of the stunning panoramic windows to see the Gothic spires of Białystok Cathedral.
A Mediterranean-inspired restaurant equipped with its own wood-fired oven and offering pizza, pasta, seafood, salad and soup, Nova is another restaurant to consider if you have had your fill of local cuisine for the day. The restaurant’s minimalist decor is reflected in its food, presented elegantly and light yet delicious. The architecture is innovative, foregoing traditional restaurant layouts with its circular shape that is reminiscent of the SkyCity restaurant atop Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. Looking out from the windows you’ll be able to see Nova’s spacious terrace and nearby Planty Park.
Located within Hotel Podlasie, Lipcowy Ogród is the place to enjoy the region’s culinary riches in style. The restaurant contains three dining rooms, each exquisitely decorated and incorporating elements of both rustic and modern decoration. The diverse menu is full of regional cuisine, with specialties including bison meat dumplings, ham of deer, and wild boar stew. Lipcowy Ogród offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Białystok and its restaurants, and the 10-minute journey outside of the city center is worth it for the quality available here.
Esperanto. the international auxiliary language for which the café is named, was created by Ludwik Zamenhof, whose hometown was Białystok. His legacy continues with the cultural events held here that promote social equality and international relations. Another product of the city is the bialy, a baked roll filled with garlic, onions, poppy seeds, or breadcrumbs that is served here along with other authentic regional foods. Another interesting treat to try is buza, a thick, fizzy, fermented drink made from crushed millet that was brought to Białystok prior to World War II by Macedonian settlers.
Being attached to Hotel Esperanto, Restauracja Kawelin provides a stylish bar area as well as its main dining area and outside terrace. The extensive selection of wine, beer, spirits, liqueurs and cocktails are available throughout, to accompany chef Arkadiusz Błażowski’s blend of Podlasie and European cuisine. For example, zurek soup, made with meat and soured rye flour, shares the menu with baked salmon in Tuscan wine with a saffron emulsion. The restaurant is named after a colorful figure in Białystok’s past, Mikołaj Kawelin, and the operators endeavor to bring his spirit of merrymaking to the present day.
The menu of this upscale restaurant is full of Podlasie produce, and changes with the seasons. The immaculate table settings, marble floor, and color palate of black, cream and gold all scream luxury, and it is within these surroundings that you’ll be able to sample traditional dumplings with crayfish as well as a lamb sous-vide with plum brandy sauce. The artistry of the food presentation is matched by the ambition of the chefs, who provide intriguing combinations such as the beef cheeks with strawberries.
Trattoria Czarna Owca | Courtesy of Trattoria Czarna Owca
Trattoria Czarna Owca
There’s no excuse for missing out on this authentic Italian restaurant just because it’s located in a cellar. What light can enter in through the windows illuminates a charming, homey decor with potted plants, dainty lampshades, whitewashed chairs, wooden pews, and red checkered tablecloths. The menu features seasonal specialties such as lamb and duck with rhubarb and beetroot mousse in addition to the standard Italian fare of pizzas, pastas, seafood, and salads.