Polish cuisine in a beautiful setting
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : Polish, Modern European
Address : 55 Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London, SW7 2PG, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.ogniskorestaurant.co.uk
Opening Times : Mon - Sun 12pm-3pm, 5.30pm-11.15pm
Closest Tube : South Kensington
Ognisko is a rarity. First of all it is one of London's few Polish restaurants that flirts with fine dining, offering traditional yet scintillating flavours that separate it from is central European brethren. It also offers one of the most enviable dining rooms in the area, located in a grade listed private members' club sandwiched between the Natural History Museum and The Royal Albert Hall. They've recently opened an extensive dining terrace with views across the impeccably manicured fields of Princes Gardens.
The Ognisko Polskie Hearth Club traces its history back to the 1940s, when it served as a social club for Polish émigrés who had resettled in London in the face of Nazi oppression. In 2013, Jan Woronieki took control of the dining rooms, which are open to members and non-members alike. Mr Woronieki previously ran the restaurant Wodka in Kensington and currently operates Baltic in Southwark. He brings a nuanced touch to the food.
The dining room at Ognisko is nothing short of beautiful. Exuding elegance at every corner, it's a white table cloth affair with white walls, dark wooden floors and golden wall sconces and chandeliers illuminating the room with a soft light. On a lunch visit on a Thursday there was still an amiable buzz permeating the room. It would lend itself perfectly to a pre- or post-theatre reprieve, or even a staging area before making a foray into one of Knightsbridge or South Kensington's many bars and clubs. The terrace takes the proverbial cake as one of the nicest places to eat, however, splitting the difference between dining al fresco without being exposed to the elements. The environs are pure London, clipped to perfection and comely beyond belief.
We began our meal with an aperitif of infused vodka, of which there are many. These coupled deliciously with a variety of breads and Trzaski - crispy pork belly with pear and horseradish sauce. To begin the meal, we opted for a small order of steak tartare, which can be served with or without its constituent ingredients mixed together. Being a bit lazy on the Thursday, we requested that the kitchen staff do the heavy lifting, and the raw beef was served with quail eggs, gherkins, shallots, capers and herbs nicely incorporated. A pierogi was engorged with cheese, potato and spring onion. The dumpling was light and delicate, a far cry from stodgy.
For mains, we enjoyed confit duck leg served with braised red cabbage, apple and fig compote. The duck's skin was friable and crispy with a moist, unctuous interior. Roast sea trout with yellow beans, breadcrumbs and tomato was ebullient with freshness, the tomato offering a nice acidic foil to the piscine protein. All in, it was an immensely enjoyable lunch and we're happy to recommend Ognisko for anyone looks for something a little different, yet eminently elegant, in the area.