As the good citizens of Krakow rejoice at the end of another winter, we are featuring a restaurant that would be an ideal destination for a brisk walk in Las Wolski to clear away the cobwebs. U Ziyada commands what may be the best view from any restaurant in Krakow, sitting on a hill above the village of Przegorzały in a handsome palace built by the Germans during World War II. Owned by Kurdish Iraqi Ziyad Raoof, an entrepreneur who has been living in the city since 1993, the restaurant boasts a fine terrace with a view to die for over the floodplains of the Vistula and out toward the foothills of the Tatras. On a sunny spring day, it is just the place to enjoy fine Polish cuisine with a Kurdish slant.
U Ziyada is definitely out of the city centre, but a taxi from Salwator will get you there in ten minutes and the 409 bus runs right to the door. The restaurant’s interior is somewhat non-descript, so your best bet is to go during the day to make best use of its prime asset – that terrace. The wine list features over 20 vintages from Spain, Argentina, France, Italy and Chile, though they are steeply priced, with the cheapest weighing in at 72zl. I plumped for a beer instead and perused the lengthy and varied menu.
The starters and soups alone will have you scratching your head, with some tempting and unusual dishes on offer. I went for a lamb broth with zucchini, a Kurdish speciality, and my partner for a creamed lentil soup. The broth was flavoursome and subtle, the lamb infusing the sweet, tender vegetable to create a memorable and hearty entrée, while the lentil soup was smooth and tasty. For a second starter, I had delicious and simply cooked king prawns in a sweet chilli sauce – not cheap at 35zl, but a rare treat in Krakow. My partner’s asparagus wrapped in bacon with cheese sauce was equally mouth-watering.
Choosing a main course caused a serious headache. I had, on a previous visit, enjoyed the roast duck with apples, but I felt myself in need of a lamb fix and there were four lamb dishes on offer, including saddle of lamb served on lettuce and lamb goulash served in a pot. I chose another Kurdish dish, intriguingly described as ‘the chef’s exquisite’ selection, which was a mixed meat dish of lamb kebab, grilled chicken with sesame puree, grilled sirloin steak, dolma stuffed with grape leaves and onion, grilled vegetables and something called kubbay brynj, which turned out to be rice rolled around meat and fried. Served with two sauces, one a Persian sweet and spicy variety and the other garlic-infused, the dish demanded a healthy appetite (not a problem for me).
Ethnic fare must be applauded, and when food of this quality is also served in quantity, you have to admire the restaurant. My dish would comfortably have served two, so was fairly priced at 69zl. My partner’s tuna steak with spicy ginger sauce was also impressive. With such an array of meat on offer, you might expect vegetarians to be disappointed, but there were four fish dishes, including the tuna, and five vegetarian dishes, including fried Camembert (delicious) and 21 varieties of pierogi. With a lengthy desert menu too (we were too stuffed to go there), most bases were covered.
All in all then, this is a restaurant with few faults, as long as you are willing to splash out a bit and can either walk, drive or wait for a bus. This is a perfect venue to impress that special guest or for a memorable date, and will certainly be a highlight of that stroll you keep meaning to go on. As we left, three young deer were startled into the woods beyond the front door. It’s that kind of place.