This month, the Krakow Post spoke to Jonathan Campion, owner of Metropolitan Restaurant & Bar and several other dining establishments in the city.
Krakow Post: What is the underlying idea behind Metropolitan, as well as its menu?
Jonathan Campion: The underlying idea behind the Metropolitan is to bring a combination of quality, value & service to our clientele whilst using only the freshest seasonal products available on the market to create international dishes not found in Krakow. My team at Metropolitan works hard to achieve that standard.
KP: How did the restaurant come to be, and what gap do you think it fills in the landscape of Cracovian eateries?
JC: The concept of the restaurant was developed in the year 2000 by very well-travelled investors with a passion for food and gastronomy who wished to share that passion with Krakow.
KP: Do you think Krakow and the attitudes of Cracovians as well as visitors have changed in the 10 years since the restaurant opened? How?
JC: The attitudes of well-travelled Poles and visitors with some disposable income will always be to search out the best value and standard of service in international dining, whether it be Japanese, Italian or other international food, especially those with a passion for food. However, those without that passion for food and disposable income will always stick to what they know, what they consider the best, and that which will fill their stomachs for the best price.
KP: Do you find anything lacking in Polish cuisine, or have you found any flavours or entrées that you think should be introduced to Polish tastebuds?
JC: I don’t find anything lacking in Polish cuisine, it depends on who is preparing the food. The most delicious food in any region of the world does not necessarily need to be complicated. Any cuisine created with a little talent, passion and fresh produce can be delicious and healthy. The most exciting aspect about Polish cuisine today is in its creative potential as it is still being discovered, developed and explored, unlike French food, for example, which is pretty mature from an artistic international standard.
KP: Have you travelled extensively? If so, have you brought back any of your experiences with dining abroad to the menu of Metropolitan?
JC: I have lived and travelled for most of my life outside of Poland and I bring all my experience to the menu at Metropolitan.
KP: What do you see for the future of the dining landscape in Krakow?
JC: It looks pretty dismal at the moment. The recession in the global economy and reduced tourist industry has been very hard on the local restaurant trade as seen in all the empty restaurants and closures in the past 12 months. There is a real disproportion in the increase in employment-associated costs, the increase in the cost of produce and production and the ability of restaurants to turn those cost increases over to the client while attempting to provide high standards of cuisine and service.
Furthermore, as long as the Polish work regulations compel a young, passionate, aspiring cook to be limited in the amount of hours they can work each day, week and month, the pervading attitudes of people in the local gastronomic market will be to search out jobs with the greatest amount of money and benefits for the least amount of work and responsibility, which inevitably will diminish the quality and quantity of really talented chefs available in this market. This will continue to adversely effect the dining landscape in Krakow for some time to come. However, Metropolitan always tries to achieve the highest standards despite the difficulties.