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Grycan Ice Cream Parlour (Warsaw, Poland)

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Address: Al. Jana Pawla II 82 / 00-175 / Warsaw / Poland

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      25.01.2012 13:40
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      Somewhere to eat great ice cream

      If I told you that I never ate ice cream before I came to live in Poland you would probably think I was making it up just for this review. It's actually true. I've never been a big fan of ice cream - probably had the odd one on holiday but never bought tubs of ice cream to store in the freezer and never went to an ice cream parlour until I came across the name Grycan.

      ******Little bit of history about the company, Grycan*********

      Warsaw has apparently always been famous for ice cream. For the post war generations the name Zielona Budka (Green Booth) has been synonymous with ice cream of the very best quality. The Green Booth in question stood on Pulawska Street in Warsaw but the firm's history started in Buczacz in Ukraine and not in the Polish capital. Grzegorz Grycan and his son Jozef made and sold ice cream. When Buczacz became Soviet in 1945 the Grycan family moved to Wroclaw, the capital of the province of Lower Silesia, where Weronika Grycan opened the first ice cream parlour in Poland on Wroclaw's Grunwaldzki Square with a sign reading 'Lody Mis' Zbigniew'. They sold cacao, vanilla, coffee, strawberry, woodland strawberry and lemon ice cream. They also offered ice cream Penguins - an ice cream on a stick.

      Of the Grycan family's third generation, was a trainee at Warsaw's Bristol Hotel who, after he became a fully-qualified confectioner, bought the family business and developed it into a great factory and chain of shops, bringing this wonderful ice cream into the majority of Polish homes. However, owing to financial problems Zbigniew Grycan sold the company to Roncadin GmBH, only to become dissatisfied with the changes made by the new owners. As a result he left the company to form a new ice cream factory, Grycan - Lody od Pokolen meaning, 'Ice Cream for Generations.' Now Warsaw is home to the ice creams of both Zielona Budka and Grycan and there are at least 16 ice cream parlours dotted throughout the city of Warsaw and also in other cities like Wroclaw, Lodz and Krakow.

      *******Grycan in Arkadia******

      The one I want to talk about is situated in Arkadia shopping centre. This is close to me and within walking distance. The address is Al.Jana Pawla II 82 and can be reached by taking any tram/bus to Rondo Radoslawa. Look at the tram/bus timetables outside the stops. If Rondo Radoslawa is listed jump on it. When you get off the tram you will see Arkadia, cross the road and enter the main gate.

      Once you have walked through the revolving doors on the right entrance into the shopping centre you will see the escalator straight ahead. Take it and you will come to the top floor, turn right and then right again. In front you will see A Trattoria, a pizza and pasta restaurant. Just behind is the Grycan Ice Cream Parlour.

      ****Seating arrangements*****

      There are two seating areas; one with white soft leather circular chairs and low coffee tables situated on the right side of the serving area. This is a more relaxed affair where people drink hot beverages rather than ice creams. You usually see people reading a paper or looking at their notebooks in a morning. The glass barricade is at the side of this area and you can look down to the bottom floor or through the huge front windows of the shopping centre. There is a good view from here of Al. Jana Pawla.

      The other seating area is much more formal and larger in floor space. The tables are made from dark wood and are highly polished and square. The chairs are some of the most uncomfortable I have ever sat on. They are contemporary in style with very high backs and low seats but the way they have been placed is too far away from the table so you have to reach over and downwards to eat your ice cream. This makes your back ache. You can't really move the chair closer to the table because they are incredibly heavy. They look very smart and trendy but damn uncomfortable.

      *****Ordering and serving area*******

      No waiters here - it's self service. The semi circular serving and display area is at the back of the ice cream parlour and very attractive with its pale turquoise glass area behind the counter. This is where all the different serving dishes are and there are some interesting shapes from: long, slender fluted glasses, short, stocky, fan shaped, plain white saucers, glass dishes in the shapes of boats, dolphins, bees and teddy bears.

      The display counter is shaped in a large semi-circle covered in glass which sparkles as it is scrupulously clean and split into 4 sections. Each section is filled with different containers of ice cream and sorbets - all colour coordinated. It really is fantastic to look at all the different colours. I love the way they coordinate all the berry fruits of which there are many flavours (blueberry, cranberry, forest fruit, raspberry, strawberry, cherry, blackcurrant, redcurrant) together and then all the citrus fruits and other fruits like grapes, melon, pear, mango, pineapple etc. Each tub is decorated on the top with an individual fruit representing the ice cream underneath. The brown, cream, vanilla and coffee colours are flavours like Mocha, Cafe Lait, Chocolate, Vanilla and Honey Cake. These are decorated with fancy biscuits and look delicious. Other types of ice cream and sorbets are made up from liqueurs like Amaretto, Malibu and Cointreau and then there is a selection where spices have been added like ginger and cinnamon. Not forgetting the nut selection covering walnuts, almonds, pistachio and hazelnuts.

      For a very special treat Grycan offer a wide variety of desserts which are made from fruits, sorbet, ice cream, whipped cream and various sauces. Biscuits are added too as an extra.

      I find it very difficult to choose a flavour of ice cream and every time I visit I stand ages looking at each one. Sometimes I cop out and just order a vanilla flavour as I can't make my mind up and don't want to hold other customers up. Of course when my granddaughter is with me she goes straight for a chocolate flavoured ice cream and generally gets most of it down her dress. The counter is lovely to look at and really is a kaleidoscope of colour.

      Once you have chosen your ice cream or sorbet (you can mix flavours) the girl/man behind the counter will scoop out the dessert of your choice and place it in an appropriate glass dish. He then takes it a little further down the counter where there are several dishes with other ingredients which you can have added to your ice cream. The choices are; chopped nuts, profiteroles (the long wafer type with chocolate rolled round at the top), wafer biscuits in different designs, chocolate shavings in dark, milk and white, dried fruit, fresh fruit, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, orange, raspberry sauce.

      Before you pay you can also order a hot drink like coffee, tea and chocolate or a freshly squeezed juice. There are different types of juice like regenerating juice, vitamin juice, anti-stress juice and relaxing juice as well as fresh lemonade, orange and grapefruit and a multi vitamin juice. Ingredients used in all these juices vary but you can generally find kiwi, peach, orange, strawberry, banana and apple amongst the flavours. I haven't tried any of the hot drinks because I don't think they go together with ice cream. There are fancy coffees available too and iced coffees. Prices start from 10 zlot (approx £2) for an ordinary coffee with milk up to 25 zloty (approx £5) for a creative cuppa.

      Once you have paid the bill you then take your creation to the table of your choice. At this time of year the ice cream parlour isn't busy but in summer it can be very hectic and this is when the tables and chairs are set out on the terrace at the side of the building. It's good fun sitting out here because you can take in the view of Jana Pawla as well as the tram lines and the fountain below and all the people going about their everyday business.

      ******Tastes********

      I can only comment on flavours I have tried so here we go. Let's start with chocolate ice cream. For a small scoop with a wafer and some fancy bits on top like profiterole and chocolate shavings I pay 12 zloty (approx £2.50). Obviously, the more flavours and additions you have bumps the price up so you can pay up to 50 zloty (approx £10) if you like for a dessert. I never pay that much - I'm a skinflint plus only have a small appetite.

      Chocolate Ice Cream is one of my favourites and my granddaughter loves it too. I think the whole family do although my son likes chocolate mint chip. The colour is quite dark but not a rich brown - like when you mix brown and cream together. The exciting thing about the presentation is the chocolate highlight - big pieces of real dark chocolate mixed in with the ice cream. These are delicious, a very deep taste with a smooth texture.

      By the way, the ice cream is gluten free and 100ml gives you these amounts of fat - 11%, saturated fatty acids 1%, salt 1%, protein 6%, carbohydrate 6%

      Pear Sorbet is one of the coldest desserts I've tasted. It really does jar your mouth with the icy texture. I suggest you let this one melt a bit before tucking into it otherwise you will get toothache or jaw ache. I tried making my own sorbet once but the texture didn't turn out as smooth and slick as Grycan's. This is okay but I do think the taste of pear is a bit artificial. Very attractive to look at with swirls of green inside the ice but I wasn't keen on the taste.

      This sorbet has a different make up containing no fat or fatty acids. It misses out on the protein and salt but has 4% kcal and 6% carbohydrate.

      Vanilla Ice Cream is another favourite. Pale cream in colour with lots of flecks of brown which are shavings from the vanilla pod. Super texture, easy to spoon and melts in your mouth. The taste is extremely creamy with a big overdose of vanilla. The smell is gorgeous too - sweet, rich and evocative.

      Gluten free again and a lot of fat in this one - 14%, 2% saturated fatty acids, 8% calories, 2% salt, 6 % protein and 6% carbohydrate.

      Out of the desserts I usually choose Melba or a Coffee Poem. The Melba is served in a short fan shaped glass which has a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the bottom followed by a soft, light and refreshing strawberry mouse and then is covered with swirl of fluffy, whipped cream and pieces of fresh peach.

      The Coffee Poem will give you a kick-start for the afternoon - it's smooth and delicious with lots of coffee. First - in goes coffee and vanilla ice cream followed by cream, chocolate sauce and strong, aromatic coffee. You get two biscuits in the top of this dessert too which are great for dipping in.

      You can also buy tubs of ice cream and sorbet which come in 500ml (9zloty) and 1000ml tubs (14 zloty) and I've just noticed that they have started selling frozen ice cream gateaux which sounds interesting. I noticed an advert on my way out the other day so will look into these next time.

      The Ice Cream Parlour is okay for disabled persons as there are several lifts in the shopping centre. The spaces between tables are wide enough for wheelchairs or prams. There are no toilet/bathroom facilities in this area but a short walk away there are public toilets with a special disabled toilet and a Mum and Baby Room. The toilets are spotless in this shopping arcade.

      Summing up - I love Grycan Ice Cream - it always tastes divine and it is made from the best ingredients. It's a bit pricey because I think the portions are small but then I guess you get what you pay for. I have tried other makes of ice cream when I have been out with my granddaughter and Grycan is by far the most superior. The sorbets are exciting to say the least but I prefer ice cream and the special desserts. The Ice Cream Parlour in Arkadia is very attractive and I can't fault the displays at all but it lacks character and charisma. It's very smart but dead if you know what I mean. The staff are pleasant enough behind the counter but nothing special. I only visit here because it's close by but I think I will try one of the other parlours in the city to see if the atmosphere is any different.

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