Feast your eyes on this Polish delight
'Expect the unexpected' it says on the website, something which perhaps applies to people unfamiliar with this restaurant and its chef patron Damian Wawrzyniak.
Not so me. I have eaten there before, albeit on an buffet-type occasion enjoying all sorts of nibbles, so I expected Saturday’s meal to be good; and it was.
I don’t profess to know much about Polish food, surprisingly it has taken until 2017 for Peterborough’s flourishing population from that country (and the rest of us) to be rewarded, so there have been few opportunities to get to know and love it
And there is much to love at the restaurant, a former gastropub now in the hands of the “international culinary superstar” (I am quoting the website again).
Evenings are dominated by five and six course “feast” menus, whereas there is a two (£18) or three course (£22) a la carte menu at lunchtimes - or up until 5pm on Satuday, which is when we booked.
The greeting was friendly and courteous, allowing us plenty of time to get comfortable and choose from the drinks and food menus - a palatable pint of Zywiec for me.
From the four choices of starter I went for smalec, which I had tried previously. It is pork shoulder, belly and loin cooked slowly in milk with marjoram and garlic, so it sits somewhere between dripping and a pate - but far less coarse.
It was very smooth and the flavour quite subtle, with crunchy bits of pork adding texture .
It came with a variety of pickles - some expected, some not - onion, gherkin and mushrooms offering all sorts of flavour sensations in the fruity pickle juice . The sourdough bread - one slice with raisins in - was a treat too. The tasty, brown crust was a delight.
Donna was blown away by her starter -salted herring beautifully complemented by sweet pickled beetroot and cured apple. Simple but effective.
Presentation came to the fore with the mains - for me irresistible pork belly - brined for 24 hours (for tenderness) and slowly cooked so that the knife glided through, and each beautifully tasting forkful just melted. It is a meat I enjoy and this was spot on with a rich and fruity sauce. It was served with pickled gherkins and purple carrots.
Donna had a tender citrus brined chicken (on the bone) cooked in pork fat. It came with Silesian dumplings, okay but plain tasting, and beans coated in sourdough breadcrumbs. Nicely presented and enjoyable but not living up to the heights of her starter.
As a special on the day we also had a first taste of zapiekanka - bread topped with smoked sausage and more pickles - onions, mushrooms and peppers - and smoked cheese.
A lovely venue with food and service to match. A great introduction to Polish cuisine.
Brad Barnes dined at House of Feasts, Crowland Road, Eye Green, Peterborough www.houseoffeasts.co.uk
Brad’s rating: 9/10