“ Address: 73 Broughton St / Edinburgh / Scotland / EH1 3RJ / Phone 0131 557 6900 „
Situated halfway down Edinburgh's Broughton Street, Pani Solinska is surrounded by excellent eating places so it has to do something special to get noticed. Fortunately its quirky decor and menu of Polish dishes have put this place on Edinburgh's culinary map. I had read a glowing review in an Edinburgh restaurant listings booklet but wasn't able to make dinner as I needed to be in a different part of town. I was pleased, then, to find out that the restaurant is open daily for breakfast and on a bright Sunday morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to the restaurant.
Broughton Street is easy to find. At the eastern end of Princes Street take the left fork, past the St. James shopping centre and Thistle Hotel on the left and just after John Lewis, turn left and walk across the square in front of the church. When you stand on the square with the church on your left, Broughton Street is across the road in front of you and runs down the hill. Pani Solinska is about one hundred metres down, on the right opposite Khushi's.
The restaurant is housed in a property that is typical of this area - tall town houses, now divided up into shops and flats -and it occupies the ground floor. As you go in there is a deli section immediately on your left and the dining area is on your right and to the rear of the property. There are effectively two dining areas though you can walk through from one to the other. Sitting at the front - which we did - will get you a good view of life passing by on the street, while sitting at the back by the French windows looks like it would be quite pleasant too.
It was difficult to sit ourselves down and settle into looking at the menu because the interior décor makes you want to look at everything all at once. The walls are white with a colourful strip of simple stylised flowers - a typical Polish motif - painted around the walls at table height. The walls are decorated with very striking black and white prints of Polish peasants working in the fields or World War Two Polish soldiers. With its pretty patterned curtains and simple wooden chairs and tables there is a vague Scandinavian feel to the place and it felt like the right place to chill out on a Sunday morning. The music was an eclectic mix of blues, sixties soul and world music, played at a reasonable volume.
As it was breakfast time we chose from that section of the menu but we did take a look at the other sections. All the traditional Polish dishes like bigos (a tasty meat and pickled cabbage stew) and pierogi (a bit like Polish ravioli filled usually with meat or a mixture of cabbage and onions and served with soured cream and fired cubes of bacon fat). I did think that the main courses looked a tad expensive (£9.95 for six pierogi is expensive in my opinion however filling they are): in Newcastle our Polish restaurant (Gospoda) is pretty cheap, but of course, this is a capital city.
But back to breakfast...
Interesting as it sounded we decided it was a bit too early for the traditional Polish breakfast which includes eggs,ham and pickles among other items - I've not been quite so keen on pickled gherkins since a terrible ferry sailing on the Black Sea from Georgia to Russia so eating them for breakfast was a thought I could not stomach.
We both decided on a simple breakfast of sliced Polish ham and scrambled eggs, his with a cup of tea, mine with a bottled Kubus carrot juice with apple and banana. This turned out to be served on a lightly toasted and buttered long bread roll, one half piled with creamy soft scrambled egg, the other draped with several slices of folded ham. The ham was tasty but it could easily have been ham from Britain, I had expected something with a more distinctive taste.
Having established that he wanted English black tea with milk, the waitress brought our drinks before the food arrived. It struck me that I had got the better deal for the price paid as the drink seemed to be priced at less than one might expect while the tea seemed over-priced and for that money, most places would have provided you with a pot of hot water rather than one cup which was really too small for the single tea bag that came and could easily have made two cups. My drink (the brand was) was very good and, if my poor Polish is correct, didn't contain any added sugars.
You are paying for the setting here; a full Scottish breakfast would have cost £7.50 which Is expensive when you can get the same deal for a fiver in Wetherspoons pubs and the like. The difference is that you aren't having your breakfast with a load of hungover Scousers in town on a stag do.
The menu is broad but quite structured in that the lunch menu is a curtailed version of the evening menu although sandwiches and filled rolls are also available. The evening menu includes the option to sample tasting plates of different items - for example a selection of Polish speciality sausage - and the staff are happy to advise and explain. Pani Solinska have a wide selection of vodkas and you can also sample tasting glasses of a few for one price.
I was interested to see that the wines come from Georgia but found it disappointing that you can't buy it by the glass as I know that if we went for an evening meal my partner would want to sample some of the beers he hadn't tried before while I have a particular fondness for Georgian wine.
If I get the chance I'll definitely stop by to try the Polish dishes next time I'm in Edinburgh as reviews suggest that the service is exceptional and I think it would enhance the experience. However, those prices seems steep and it will have to be very good to prove me they are justified.
To be continued...
Mon 8am-9.30pm; Tue 8am-6pm; Wed-Fri 9am-9.30pm; Sat 10am-9.30pm; Sun noon-8pm
73 Broughton Street
Edinburgh, EH1 3RJ
Phone: 0131 557 6900