After a long day of meetings and upon the recommendation of the Marriott Hotel, a group of us found ourselves just around the corner from Vapiano at the Radio Cafe, where they were known to serve traditional Polish food and drinks.
With night wind picking up and temperatures dropping to 1 degree celsius, we abandoned all ideas of alfresco seating and headed straight indoors. The setting of the cafe was simple with standard table and chair settings but the walls were covered with photos, cuttings and sketches that depicted a bygone era of Warsaw and Poland.
I was piqued by the many photos which I later learned from the waiter were mementos of the cafe's 50 year history. The name of the cafe was directly derived from Radio Free Europe (RFE) based in Munich, an organisation that broadcasted messages of freedom into former communist Poland. RFE was formed in 1952 under the US Eisenhower administration which used the radio to battle communism in Eastern Europe.
A Polish section of the RFE was established and it became popular with locals who braved 10 year prison sentences to listen to the radio station between 1952 and 1956.
The Polish section was closed after the country gained independence and former employees gathered and created a club in the late 1990s based in the Radio Cafe. The leading personalities of the Polish Section as well as American Directors of the RFE can be viewed in the black and white photos on the walls. It was no surprised that the cafe was operated by someone from the Polish Radio.
Today, Radio Cafe is a favourite gathering spot for locals who love radio from the old period of communist Poland when messages of freedom were broadcasted into communist countries, while tucking into Polish grub and drinks.
We were served by an waiter who was conversant in English and exceptionally helpful in recommending traditional food and drinks for our group.
He organised for us to eat like locals starting with a bottle of Wódka Wyborowa, a brand of Polish vodka dating back to 1823 which is not only popular with locals but also internationally under the ownership of French alcohol producer Pernod Ricard.
This 40% ABV liqueur produced from 100% rye grain and drunk straight in shot glasses was smooth and velvety with a sweet aroma without the fiery aftertaste. It definitely kept the winter chills away.
To accompany the Polish vodka were "Pierogi" or Polish dumplings. They are made of unleavened dough and boiled. They are also eaten fried or baked. I just couldn't fathom the uncanny similarities to the Chinese dumplings which originates in far away country.
We had several servings of boiled and fried pierogi stuffed with different ingredients including mince meat, sauerkraut and spinach and cheese. They were accompanied by sides of various salads. This traditional peasant food was both filling and delicious when accompanied with the Polish vodka. We all agreed the atmosphere was relaxing, the meal was satisfying, prices were affordable and the service was excellent.