It is a remarkable but unfortunate phenomenon in a city with the culinary wealth of Krakow that there is such a dearth of good quality restaurants on the Main Market Square. Call it an effect of mass tourism or just local taste, but if you want to eat on the Rynek Główny you generally have a choice of pseudo-American style barns, tired-looking pizzerias or over-priced tourist traps.
So, it comes as a welcome surprise to step into the airy interior of Wesele Restaurant (Wedding Restaurant), looking out over the south side of the Rynek, to find a place attempting to fill that culinary void. Wesele, owned by the same people as Miód Malina and Marmolada, aims for a similar recipe for success, with an essentially traditional Polish menu with seasonal specialities and a smattering of international dishes. It avoids becoming part of a clichéd chain by offering an atmosphere suitably different to the others in the group.
Presumably aimed at attracting parties, there are several rooms, all decked out like, well, a wedding venue, and the vibe is all Old Poland with wooden tables, candles, beads, ribbons, hanging plastic fruit and flowers all threatening to turn your meal into a riot of chintz, but Wesele manages to keep just
the right side of kitsch and instead creates a welcoming and homely atmosphere with low lighting and music. Despite an impressive wine list, I ordered a Pilsner and took a seat on the second of two levels and gazed out of the wide windows
onto the square. The service was rapid, friendly and efficient and I was served immediately and in perfect English.
The food itself is in the medium price range – reasonable given the location. I opted for the żurek (sour rye soup) served in a large bread roll – the traditional method of presentation. This is a hearty and delicious option at this time of year, and the soup was cooked to perfection with succulent, spicy sausage slices and the nice touch of two small quail eggs included. Even the bread vessel looked tempting. A couple of dishes from the autumn seasonal menu followed.
First, cep mushrooms fried in a creamy sauce with feuilletés. The meaty, spongy mushrooms complimented the rich, tangy sauce nicely, and the pastry was crispy and light. Next up, gorgonzola melted over a baguette topped with pears, almonds, thyme and cranberry sauce. Unusual and delicious, this was a perfect entrée, leaving plenty of space for the main dish – goose breast on a bed of pears with a honey and red wine sauce and a side dish of spicy, pan fried potatoes. Goose is a dish people generally love or hate – too greasy for some, it is succulent and tender for others, an antidote to the dryness of turkey at festive tables in the UK. Fortunately, this was neither too dry nor greasy, and was cooked so that the subtle flavours infused it to perfection, and the crispy wedges complimented it well.
My partner’s beef sirloin in green pepper sauce was tender, and the sauce delicate and flavoursome. With a menu including roe-deer, veal and rabbit, meats which are all hard to find done well in this city, Wesele ticks a lot of boxes for meat-eaters. Whether vegetarians would feel at home here though is a moot point.
I finished with a rich chocolate cake served with amaretto cherries served hot with bitter chocolate. Though my stomach was struggling to find space, this was neither too heavy nor too sweet, and went down like a dream. We were the last customers to leave and, waddling out onto a deserted and rainy main square, I pondered that perhaps this could be a marriage that’s going to last.
Find out more at:www.weselerestauracja.pl