Jeff's Restaurant (Krakow, Poland)
== Jeff's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar, Krakow. == Jeff's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar is an American Style diner restaurant that I first had the pleasure of dining at when I was visiting Warsaw, Poland in April 2011. I really enjoyed the food and always intended to make a return visit but never got round to it. When I moved to ... Krakow I was really pleased to see there is also a Jeff's here and instantly felt the need to check it out so we went there for my birthday meal
== Location ==
Jeff's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar in Krakow is located in the Galeria Kazimierz shopping mall. The restaurant is on the 1st floor of the shopping mall and is pretty easy to find as it is opposite the cinema which is very well signposted.
There are regular trams and buses which run to the Galeria Kazimierz and most of them stop within a 5 - 10 minute walk away.
== The Restaurant ==
Jeff's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar restaurant area is actually quite small although in this small area they still manage to fit lots of tables catering for most sized groups to smaller tables for couples.
As you enter the restaurant you will usually be greeted by one of the waitresses in her Jeff's uniform. The waitresses are usually wearing very short denim shorts and a nice red blouse with the Jeff's logo on. I have never seen any waiters in Jeff's only waitresses. The waitress greeted us with a smile and asked us in Polish if we would like a table, however if you speak to them in English I noticed that most of them do understand and will talk to you just as politely in English.
The decor in the restaurant is really cool, the walls are decorated with a lot of American style posters and plaques and the tables are laid with chequered table cloths to add to the American style diner theme. I was very amused to see one of the plaques they had on the wall was from Birmingham in the UK like I am, even though it said Birmingham City FC and I am not a fan of theirs I still had to take a photo as it reminded me of home.
== Menu ==
Ok, so Jeff's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar is an American style diner in a city that is hugely popular with tourists so surely they will have a copy of the menu in English wont they? Well, actually no, they don't. To me this is possibly the only let down of this restaurant and it really surprises me that they don't have one as I would say 95% of the restaurants we have visited here have an English copy of the menu's or translations underneath for tourists.
Luckily for me I was eating with a Polish person so translation of the Menu for me was as simple as "What does that say?" I'm sure though for anyone visiting who doesn't speak Polish the waitresses will be happy to help you as they seemed really friendly and like nothing was too much trouble for them.
Anyhow... The menu in Jeff's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar is quite varied and being an American style diner they offer a lot of burgers and steak meals as well as a few chicken dishes and pasta's. There are a couple of vegetarian options available as well as a soups and salad menu too. For the kids there is a kid's menu offering pretty much the same kind of variety but in smaller potions.
At the back of the menu there is a list of drinks available including beers, cocktails, juices, fizzy drinks and a range of tea and coffee. We ordered a beer each and we were pleasantly surprised when the waitress came to the table with 4 beers and informed us it was Happy Hour so we got a free extra beer! These beers came with some really cool looking coke beer mats which I have to admit came home with me and now look pretty cool on our coffee table!
For starters we shared a plate of spicy chicken wings. The wings were served fresh and hot and they were actually really spicy to the point that my mouth felt rather tingly and I had to take my jumper off as I was feeling hot! When the waitress bought them to the table she also brought a roll of kitchen paper towels which came in handy when our fingers were left with a nice sticky orange coating from the chicken. The wings were lovely and the meat was cooked just right. I think if they weren't so spicy I could eat them everyday!
For my main meal I chose to have cheeseburger and fries. When the food arrived I was amazed at the size of the meal that had just been put in front of me! Presented on a large oval shaped plate I had half a plate of fries, a large cheeseburger with the top of the bun next to it and a large portion of salad. I like the fact that they put the top of the burger bun next to it as this meant I was able to put sauce on and take the onions off the burger without pulling half the cheese off in the process. The chips were skinny French fries, they were cooked lovely and had a nice crispy edge to them, the potato inside was nice and fluffy and they were just really moreish! The cheeseburger was nice although the bun was a little dry and I ended up leaving part of it as I felt like I was overdosing on bread. I am told the salad part is also very nice, however I don't really like salad so I didn't eat this part. It did look nice and fresh though so I would imagine to those who do eat salad it would be nice.
After a starter and a main meal we were both feeling pretty stuffed and decided to finish our beers and head home without having a pudding. The pudding menu did look lovely and inviting with its cheesecake and Tiramisu making me wish I'd had pudding instead of starter! Never mind, there is always next time!
== Prices ==
I think the prices in Jeff's are pretty reasonable but then when you see the size of the meal you are getting I would actually say the prices are great! The starters are around the 20zl mark unless you have something like King Prawns and then you are looking at more like 40zl! The main menu meals also vary depending on what you order but on average a burger meal will cost around 30zl and a steak meal ranges from around 50zl to 70zl depending on the size. Puddings are around 15zl. At the current exchange rate (March 2012) of £1 being equal to 4.9zl I would say these prices are great value for money!
== Service ==
The service we received was excellent. Our waitress was very polite and when she realised I was English she spoke to me in English even though I was quite willing to attempt to speak my very bad Polish to her! She was very efficient and made no mistakes with our order.
== Toilets ==
The toilets in Jeff's are located upstairs and are kept reasonably well. On the occasion we visited they were clean and stocked with toilet paper and soap and I did find it quite amusing that instead of background music they had opted for an English lesson of some kind quietly playing. Learn English on the toilet in Jeff's! Very different approach to learning a language!
== Wheelchair Access ==
Unfortunately due to the toilets being upstairs and as far as I could see there was no lift or downstairs toilet I would say Jeff's isn't wheelchair friendly. Also the seating area is raised by one step and with the tables being close together I would say this really limits whether you could manoeuvre a wheelchair here.
== Overall ==
Overall I would definitely recommend Jeff's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar in Krakow. The food quality, the size of the meals and the service you receive are all of a high standard and made for a very pleasant and enjoyable birthday meal.
Thanks for reading :)
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Blue Elephant (Malta)
I went to Malta in September 2011 with my boyfriend. We stayed in the St Julians area of Malta for 10 days. Earlier that year my Auntie and Uncle had also stayed in St Julians at the Hilton hotel and had dined at the Blue Elephant, a Thai restaurant which is located within the hotel. They highly recommended we eat at the restaurant while ... we are there and didn't have enough good words to say about the place. So half way through our trip we made a reservation and went to find out for ourselves.
My Uncle had recommended that we book a table as the restaurant can be quite busy, so we called the hotel and were transferred to the Blue Elephant where we easily made a booking with a very pleasant member of staff.
The restaurant is located within the Hilton hotel which means you do have to approach the hotel as though you are a guest and walk through the main doors, then you take an elevator down 2 floors from the lobby where you find the restaurant. When you first walk in the hotel it is unclear where exactly it is, however we asked at reception and were given guidance.
When you get out of the lift you are greeted with a mini lobby around the entrance to the hotel which included a menu on display surrounded by various Thai style decorations and pretend fruits etc. There we were greeted by a staff member who asked if we had made a reservation and were then taken into the main of the restaurant. The inside of the restaurant was just amazing, there was a river running through the room with a large pond in the middle with fish swimming within it. There was a foot bridge going over the water allowing access to both sides of the water. There were various plants and flowers placed around the carefully spaced tables. It was like entering another world and like nothing I have ever experienced before! There was also a subtle music playing which reminded me of music you would hear in a spa and it really added to the relaxing nature of the place.
Despite the beautiful interior, when asked where we would like to sit we opted to sit outside. The outside area was slightly smaller than the interior, and consisted of a decking over the water which meets the hotel and gave a view of the sea and various speedboats parked near the hotel (which we could only assume belonged to hotel guests) It was very nice to be given a choice of where to sit as this isnt always something you get asked. The decking was also adorned very nicely just like the interior and the relaxing music was still audible. The restaurant does sit within the hotel meaning you are semi cocooned in by the hotel itself which is quite tall. This is a good thing in the sense that it stops the wind slightly, however it did become quite hot out on the decking as a result. Yet the inside of the restaurant did seem much cooler and there was clearly air-conditioning in there.
I really liked how the decking was set out, there were different levels and areas meaning you didn't feel too close to any other guests. This is really important to us, as we both admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable if placed to close to other diners, therefore we really appreciated how the restaurant had considered this. The furniture and tableware was all of a very high quality and everything was clean and well laid out. It was clear that the staff were well trained and took a lot of care to how the place looks.
We were quickly given a drinks menu and asked what we would like to drink. We both like Rose wine so decided to order a Maltese wine which is actually made in the neighbouring island of Gozo. We had ordered the exact same wine in other restaurants during our stay and noticed that it was slightly more expensive in this one. The wine was served quickly and was opened at the table and poured, then placed in a cooler at the side of the table.
After the food we also decided to order a cocktail off the extensive cocktail menu. My boyfriend decided on a Caipirinha and I ordered a Planters Punch. However when we ordered we were informed that it wouldn't be possible to have the Caipirinha as there were no limes left. We were a bit disappointed however were glad they had admitted this, as in our hotel when ordering Caipirinhas the barman made them with lemons rather than admitting there were no limes left, which resulted in an odd tasting drink! So in the end he ordered a Highlander.
Both cocktails arrived and were clearly well made with good quality spirits, and both were rather strong but at least that meant we got our moneys worth!! The only disappointment with the cocktails was the rather bland glasses they came in, they were nothing more than an average shape blue tinted glass and weren't the kind of glass that I would usually expect a cocktail in, nor was there any decoration such as fruit etc. Despite this we did enjoy the drink and I guess the drink itself is more important than the glass and decoration!
We then began to work our way through the food menu. There is an option of 3 different banquet menus which include starters, mains and desserts, or you can order individual dishes from a general menu. Neither of us are too familiar with Thai food so decided the banquet menus would be a good idea and give us the opportunity to try different things. So we went with the Royal Thai Banquet Menu which is Euro38.50 each.
The starters arrived served on a tiered platter with lovely matching blue plates and pots containing the various starters. We were also given 4 thai dips which were explained to us by the waiter. He also explained which dips are best with which starters, which was a really nice touch. We had chicken satay, special spring rolls made with lamb stuffing, Sarika which is a little crispy cake containing prawns and sweetcorn and Thung Pu which is a stuffed egg pastry with cream cheese. All of these dishes were relatively new to us but we were so impressed by all of them. Each one was cooked to perfection and bursting with various contrasting flavours! I have never enjoyed food so much and really savoured every flavour. The dips were clearly homemade and really complimented each of the dishes. Each dish was also adorned with beautiful purple flowers which made the whole thing look beautiful and it actually seemed a shame to eat it!!
Next came the mains which were again served on a platter but this time it was a flat elevated one meaning the dishes were at just the right level. They were all served in lovely little blue pots with lids to keep the warmth in. Again the waiter went through each of the dishes so we would know exactly what each one was. The mains were a seafood stir fry in fruit juice, stir-fried chicken in coriander and garlic, beef with onions, mushrooms and babycorn in an oyster sauce, marinated duck with sweet&sour sauce served on a bed of seaweed and lamb curry containing coconut milk with sweet potatoes and cashew nuts. There was also a bowl of aromatic rice and seasoned noodles at the side.
Every single dish was packed with flavour and the meat was cooked perfectly so it was nice and soft. I have eaten similar dishes before yet never experienced flavour like this before, the flavours clashed at times yet in a good way and it really brought the food to life. There was also a variety of textures involved making it even more enjoyable. Until this I wasn't actually aware that food could be quite this exciting. My favourite was the lamb dish which was just incredible, I'm not actually a fan of lamb as meat, yet this was just incredible.
Finally we received the dessert which neither of us felt we had enough room for! However what arrived was a delightful little selection of 3 desserts - a mini cheesecake, a coconut sorbet and a mango sorbet. I didn't expect a desert to blow me away in quite the same way that the other courses did, yet the coconut and mango sorbets were just amazing!! I know it sounds odd, as you'd think there couldn't be much to be special about a sorbet, yet somehow there were just so much better than any sorbet or ice cream I have ever tasted. They were just so full of flavour and refreshing.
The courses were spaced just right and we were given the option of a longer wait between courses if required. We were left feeling really full so there was no worry about there not being enough food.
I'm never too concerned about service and always think that providing the food is nice I don't care if the waiter is rude! However here in this place I experienced service on another level that I never knew existed. All staff members were incredibly attentive and couldn't do enough for you. It was clear that all were well trained in the industry and knew the correct way to do everything from pouring wine to clearing plates. The waiters/waitresses were very present and you felt they were never far away as our wine glasses were regularly topped up and we were frequently checked upon. However it didn't feel as though they were too present and as though they could hear what you were talking about etc. In fact they were very subtle and even the way they walked was quiet and didn't impose on the relaxed nature of the place.
The waiter we had was still friendly despite his professionalism and I felt he was capable of adapting to the people he was dealing with. I think he soon realised we are quite a relaxed couple so as a result made additional conversation with us and even offered to take a photo of us which he went to great trouble to make sure it looked good! Yet I felt if we had been a bit more stand off-ish and preferred him to leave us alone he would also have respected this and adapted. All of the staff were genuinely friendly and relaxed, yet knew exactly what they were doing.
Overall the staff made us feel like royalty, despite being quit young we were treated with great respect and it really did make us feel special. Were not the sort of people who like fuss however it wasn't really fuss, just extremely professional. As a result I left a bigger tip than I have ever left in a restaurant before, because I really strongly felt the level of service warranted this.
I visited the toilets while I was there (partly out of curiosity and to have a walk around the place and admire it some more!) The toilets were as amazing as I expected, they were spotlessly clean and very modern but in an elegant way with marble basins and gold adornments. The toilets had a dressing room type appearance with seating areas and large mirrors. The sinks all had posh hand washes and there were no hand dryers, instead neatly folded facecloths were provided to dry your hands with a basket to dispose of them afterwards. Again this was a truly luxurious experience and matched the rest of the restaurant.
As expected the bill was quite high at just over Euro120 (including the wine and cocktails) which for us it a large amount and not the amount we would normally pay to eat out, yet I have absolutely no regret in dining here. If a friend told me they spent that amount on a meal for 2 I would probably laugh and wonder what was so special about the food to make it worth that amount, however I can confidently say that on this occasion it did seem well worth the money.
After visiting the restaurant I could completely understand why my Uncle had recommended it and gushed so much about it! We had an unforgettable experience in this place that I could easily say was my best ever dining experience to date. I'm already keen to try the UK Blue Elephant which is located in London and hope it will be to the same standard. I would confidently recommend this place to anyone visiting Malta who finds themselves in the St Julians area, for a truly magical exciting dining experience.
Hilton Malta Hotel,
Tel: 00356 21383383
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Haus der 100 Biere (Berlin, Germany)
What a dilemma: over one hundred beers and only one lunch-time to drink them in. The 'Haus der 100 Biere' just off Berlin's Potsdamer Platz is actually a restaurant but it appears to promote the many beers stocked there ahead of the food it serves. We had seen this restaurant on the first day of our stay in Berlin and been ... quite excited by the idea of there being so much choice, and especially because there were some exotic beers we'd never tried before and others that we'd tried during our various travels and would have liked to drink again; however, we had decided not to rush in because we preferred instead to try some of the local microbreweries.
On our last day, however, we were sticking close to the Potsdamer Platz because we needed to leave for the airport in the middle of the afternoon and had left our bags in the lockers at the Potsdamer Platz station. We wanted to eat a decent lunch because we wouldn't be getting back to the UK until late and didn't have long enough in Brussels airport to grab something between flights. The 'Haus der 100 Biere' seemed like an obvious choice. We had so far managed not to have a typically German meal and this would allow us to leave Berlin without feeling bad about that.
We arrived around 12 noon, earlier than I'd normally want to eat but as it turned out we did the right thing by going at that time. Just as we were closing our menus, a large group of Japanese tourists came in with their tour guide and proceeded to monopolise the staff. This is a large modern restaurant but the space was arranged in such a way that made it more intimate with large plants breaking up the space and creating small clusters of tables. The section where the large tour group was seated was quite regimented with long tables running parallel to each other, no doubt for the convenience of the staff. A corridor leads from the street into the main dining area and doors at each end kept the warmth in and the cold out. If you keep walking through the dining area and past the bar, there is a conservatory type lounge area with smaller tables, much more suitable for those just going in for a drink.
An English menu was offered but we managed fine with the German one. I would suggest that if you only have very limited German you make use of the English menu as some of the dishes are referred to by name and not given a description - presumably they feel that the dishes are so well known that they needn't explain them. This is a very meat-heavy menu and while vegetarians will not go hungry, neither will they be excited by the choices available. Himself chose the 'Berliner Eisbein' (Euro14.90) - a boiled pickled ham hock served with pease pudding, sauerkraut and parsley potatoes. I always like a schnitzel and ordered one with a mushroom sauce (also Euro14.90) (a Jager- or Hunters' Schnitzel); it was served with sauteed potatoes that had been cooked with little salty pieces of bacon.
Both portions were large, the kind of large that has you feeling partly defeated as soon as the plate is put in front of you, but a morning walking in the nearby Tiergarten combined with icy cold weather had summoned quite a hunger. My pork schnitzel was excellent; the meat was cooked perfectly and the sauce was delicious, well seasoned with plenty of flavour though it was so rich and creamy I couldn't eat all of it. The potatoes were very tasty, with crispy edges but soft insides; a smaller portion on a plate with less meat would have been better for me because the combination of salty schnitzel sauce and salty bacon on the potatoes soon became too much. My plate was described as coming with a side salad and this would have been much appreciated but what came was little more than a garnish on the side of the plate.
Sometimes it's hard to believe that only a couple of years ago Himself was a vegetarian. An Eisbein is a dish that can fill even the most confirmed of carnivores with a sense of dread: to me it looks like an invitation to fight laid out on a plate and for that reason it's not a dish I'd ever order for myself. It was a hefty piece of pork, and just as it should, it had a thick layer of fat around the outside. While this wouldn't have been something I'd have wanted to persevere with myself, I was quite happy to let Himself do the hard work and get to the meat inside, finding me a tasty piece to try. It was delicious but too salty for me and the sort of thing I'd only want a very small amount of. The pease pudding was very good, full of flavour and exactly how a homemade pease pudding should be (much nicer than the mass produced stuff I buy for my sandwiches). The warm sauerkraut was also tasty but again I was glad not to be eating this dish myself because there was a lot of sauerkraut on the plate and I would have preferred something more palate cleansing like simple fresh vegetables.
The beer list does include one hundred bottled beers. The country of origin, alcohol content, size and price are listed along with a picture of the bottle which is great for beer enthusiasts as it's very often that you remember what the bottle looked like and not the name. There are well known beers such as Cobra, San Miguel and Guinness but there are a lot of locally made beers and a large number of Belgian beers that you might not have seen before.Some countries just have one beer (Namibia, Ghana, Japan, Sri Lanka) while others have several representatives. There's a good mix between dark beers and porters, and lighter beers such as lagers and blonds.
Carefully avoiding the ominously named French beer Belzebuth with it's 13 per cent alcohol content, Himself ordered a safer Berliner Burgerbrau (50cl, Euro4.40), a light beer wth a 5 per cent content and I asked for a Floris Passion, a fruity Belgian beer flavoured with pomegranate and with a modest 3.6 per cent alcohol (30cl, Euro3.80). We were happy with both beers in terms of taste and temperature. We were also impressed that both choices were available as we wondered whether they would be able to always have those hundred beers available.
As well as all the bottles there are plenty of draught beers such as Berliner Kindl, Bitburger and the wheatbeer Weihenstephan. They also offer all the variations of Berliner Weisse in which perfectly good wheatbeer is adulterated with fruity syrups (I say that only with mock disdain as some of the variations are quite palatable). Wines and spirits and a full range of soft hot and cold drinks are also available and the menu for those is as comprehensive and varied as for the beers; they don't do things by halves here.
The 'Haus Der 100 Biere' is a bit of a novelty really. The food was decent but even for Berlin over-priced and it wouldn't be too critical to describe the place as a tourist trap. Even for local beers you will pay a premium so unless you are really interested in trying one of the more unusual beers, I'd suggest giving this place a miss.
In terms of speed and friendliness of service Mommseneck, as it is more correctly known, does well. It's a clean and comfortable restaurant with a bit of character in spite of being large and modern. We left neither disappointed nor really pleased. We were, however, absolutely stuffed and feeling like we'd not eat again within a week. One for carnivores and beer lovers only.
'Haus der 100 Biere', Mommseneck am Potsdamer Platz
Alte Potsdamer Strasse
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Restaurant International / Bahnhofstr. 5, 95444 Bayreuth, Tel: 0921 82288 Fax: 853425
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JAPANESE / Restaurant International /SUSHI. 21 South End Avenue, NY 10280. (In Battery Park City -Lower Manhattan). Tel: +1 (212) 240 9100. Delivery / Take out / Private parties / Outdoor dining available. Serves beer and wine. Inexpensive, but booking is advised.
Tel / Restaurant International /Fax (07 11) 62 83 51
(07 11) 62 83 55
Restaurant International / Dubrovnikkette, kroatische Specialities, Borgfelder Str. 16
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381 South Van Ness @15th Dinner Tue / Restaurant International /Sat / 17:30/22:30 / 415/5517181.
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