“ Address: Restauracja Hawełka 31-010 Kraków, ul. Rynek Główny 34 „
Hawelka Restaurant in the Jan Matejko or Market Square
We were looking for a restaurant that served Polish specialities and a couple were recommended in different guide books including our favourite DK guide book of Krakow.
The first they recommended was the Wierzynek and we went there having looked at their lunch menu posted outside the building. After asking the girl at the front desk in the chocolate shop part she said that it was the upstairs restaurant we wanted. She showed us a lunch menu for the restaurant downstairs and there was nothing that appealed so we waited to go upstairs.
They were filming a Polish series and so we had to go right to the top. The waiter took or coats and brought us the menu. This was the a la carte menu and we wanted the lunch menu. We ordered drinks and asked him when he came back about the lunch menu posted outside. He told us that was downstairs so we paid for and drank our drinks, retrieved our coats and went downstairs.
When we got downstairs it was very ice but once again nobody else was in there. We got the menu and it was still ot the one advertised outside so we left.
We wandered around the square looking in various places and rejecting them until we got to Hawelka. There was a young man at the entrance and he explained the menu and it had many of the things we wanted to try and as this was the other one recommended in the guide book we went in.
This was much nicer.
First of all there were other people in the restaurant. We are always a bit dubious when we are the only people in a restaurant and if we haven't booked beforehand we will usually walk passed an empty restaurant to go to one with a few more other people there as that helps create a bit of atmosphere.
Secondly the waiter was keen to have us there and made a real effort. He was pleasant and friendly and took us through their menu which was posted out in front of the restaurant. We asked if it was the same menu inside having been caught with that already twice at the other place. He said 'of course' and 'cooked specially for you'.
Thirdly it had a nice atmosphere with a cosy feel. There was a range of art work on the walls and mannequins dressed in traditional Polish costumes just as you came in. The tables were a decent distance apart and there were a few screens between some tables to break up the room a bit. It felt cosy and it looked Polish and had a bit of an old traditional feel about it.
He sat us at a nice table with a screen beside us on one side and then brought the menu. I chose a mulled wine with mead and my husband boringly refused to try the mulled beer and had just a local beer un - mulled. The mulled mead was sweet and spicy with cloves and lovely and warm. Not too much alcohol had been burned off as it went straight to my head on my empty stomach.
We wanted typical Polish food and ordered the mixed pierogi and I had borscht or barscz or red beetroot soup while my husband had a sour rye soup which was actually very tasty. This was supposed to be a starter but truly was extremely filling and I couldn't eat all my pierogi and had to pass some over to my husband. We had no room for any desserts or indeed any more food at all and left much more filled and a lot warmer than when we went in.
The pierogi were a mixture of potato, sauerkraut, duck and another meat all very finely minced and tasty. Mine were fried and my husband had them boiled. I think I would probably go for boiled next time as they were quite oily. They are a kind of ravioli and very filing and quite tasty.
The borscht was delicious and tasted very earthy and beetroot like but you could also taste the lemon and garlic. My husband's was just delicious but I had avoided that as they had mentioned egg and I am not keen on egg at all.
The bill came to 81 zloty which is about £16 so we were very happy and left our nice waiter a good tip as he had been really lovely and helpful.
The toilets were downstairs which could be a problem if you had mobility issues as it was a long way down. Into the depths of the place and the at the end of a corridor but once I finally found them they were very clean and had both blower drier and paper towels so as was happy as I wanted my hands to be really dry before heading into the outside world again. My husband said the men's were okay too.
Considering this is one of Krakow's oldest and most respectable restaurants we were very pleasantly pleased with the bill. According to the DK Eyewitness guide book "For fine Polish cuisine in a historic setting, it is difficult to do better than this restaurant, which has been serving the rich and famous since 1876."
Would I add my recommendation to this restaurant? Yes indeed. Our waiter was lovely so friendly an went that extra mile to be pleasant and welcoming. The food was tasty and cooked freshly for us and we are not experts but seemed to be authentic Polish food. The price was pretty reasonable for a good restaurant in a major tourist area of the city so we were very happy, very full and a whole lot warmer than when we went in.
When we went to the museum that is in the original Schindler's factory this restaurant appeared with high ranking Nazis in front of it so it was obviously a respected restaurant even then as the Nazis always took the best for themselves.
It was nice to eat somewhere with a bit of history and a nice warm and friendly atmosphere. The food and service were both excellent.
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