Wandering along Ul. Grodzka on our first day in Kraków looking for something light for lunch, we came upon Enoteka Pergamin. It was 34 degrees and the heavy meals we saw on other menus did not appeal. This restaurant had many different options including light tasting boards and so we entered. My heart was won immediately. We ordered a blini and a potato cake from the section of the menu labelled “homemade, mini, regional… to some wine”. But which wine? Our waiter asked us about our wine preferences, made some suggestions and brought us some options to taste. I settled on a glass of the Solaris, Winnica Turnau, 2018. Peter had a glass of the Aureus, Winnica Fritz, 2018. It was all just perfect and we decided to revisit later in the week for dinner.
Later in the week, the next evening in fact, we arrived around 7.45 and decided to start with a plate of Polish meat and cheese. Again our waitress was very helpful. She asked us about our meat and cheese preferences and put together a custom board with wine. She told us a bit about the Polish wine regions and the wine. It was just wonderful. My very favourite cheese was the Długodojrzewający ser krowi typu parmezan, which was indeed a Parmesan style cheese.
It was still very hot (36 degrees) and we both chose salads for our main course. My salad was described on the menu as “free range chicken – rabarbar / kalarepa / boczek z podstolic / polski parmezan / majonez” which I think translates as rhubarb, kohlrabi, pork belly, Polish parmesan with mayonnaise”. As you may know I did not care for rhubarb until I discovered it as a vegetable and I have a few savoury rhubarb dishes I make at home. I will definitely be making a version of this salad. The rhubarb was thin slivers, probably created using a vegetable peeler and then lightly pickled. Peter had the other salad on the menu, three cheeses with pear, honey, cucumber and mango. I think I was the winner on the night. We noticed that there was a sign pointing downstairs to a cocktail bar but were still too tired from our journey to explore further. I felt a third visit coming on.
The following night we visited the Klezmer Hois and by chance the walk back to our hotel took us past the Enoteka. This seemed the perfect opportunity to investigate the cocktail bar. Down two flights of stairs and through two dining areas we came to a room filled with wine and spirits. There was one other couple there, from Edinburgh. They had come to Kraków to visit Auschwitz as many seem to. A bit like coming to Wellington to take the ferry south and missing out on the joys of our city. However they had read about this bar on Trip Advisor and had come to try it out. This Scotsman did not usually drink spirits, however he had decided he needed to try Polish vodka. The barman, like the wait staff upstairs, was both knowledgeable and engaging. He talked Peter and our Scottish companion through the vodka menu and then he served a glass of a 2018 Polish potato vodka with a small tasting glass of the 2017 to see the difference. I am not a vodka drinker but I had a small sip and may have been converted. I had a gin cocktail with lavender and white bitters which was wonderfully refreshing. In an adjoining room was a humidor, a cigar smoking room. There was no-one there and I asked the barman if it was popular. He said it was not but he also didn’t seem to think that was odd. They sold Nicaraguan cigars produced by small family owner/operators and had some special certification to sell them. We were not tempted to try the cigars.
On our last day in Krakow we were taking a night train to Linz. We had had a late lunch at the MOCAK and an ice cream in Kazimierze so didn’t really feel like an early dinner. It seemed entirely appropriate to revisit the Enoteka and enjoy a meat and cheese board with a glass of Solaris wine one last time. We sat in the evening sun people-watching while we filled in the time before our train.
Enoteka Pergamin was a place where you could sit and enjoy a meal and a drink to fit your appetite. It was never crowded and it was somewhere we felt very comfortable. For me it epitomised modern Poland. It had a sense of being both European (Poland has been a member state of the EU since 2004) and distinctly Polish. It served traditional Polish food in a contemporary way and it showcased the best of Polish produce and wine. The staff were proud of their country and their city and happy to talk about the produce of the region in a very engaging and yet understated way. If you are visiting Krakow make this restaurant one of your first stops. Your first visit will not be your last. I wonder if I will find somewhere in Linz that engages me in the same way.