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Taverna Korsarz (Warsaw, Poland)

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Address: Tawerna Żeglarska Korsarz. Gostyńska 45 01-165 Warszawa / Tel: 666204098

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      10.04.2011 15:44
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      A great idea - works as a bar and music venue but not so sure about a restaurant

      When I first moved into my flat in Warsaw I could see the neon lights of the 24 hour garage from my bedroom. Not everyone's idea of a stunning view but I liked it. Garages are a great inspiration to me as far as my artwork is concerned and I was quite sad when one day I woke up to find that the beginnings of a large building were about to block my view. At the time I thought this building was going to be a dental surgery - that just shows you how bad my understanding of the Polish language was in those days. Time passed, like a year and a half, and eventually the building was finished. It wasn't a dental surgery but a tavern. To look at from the outside it looks like a huge chalet. It is an attractive building but far too large for its location on the corner of Gostynska Street. These large chalet type buildings are popular in Poland but usually they are situated outside the city and frequented by wedding parties. It just seems such an odd location to build a tavern like this in Wola and I have always wondered whether this was a good business investment as apart from the odd wedding party I haven't seen any other large groups of people entering the tavern. What is also strange and something that we didn't realise until last summer when we were sat outside and could hear sea shanty songs drifting over to our candlelit balcony, is that this is a venue for regular musicians to play music connected to the sea. In Warsaw! Yes, I know it's very odd seeing that we are nowhere near the sea. You would think that after all this time we would have gone to investigate what it was all about but it was only last week when we decided to actually pop our heads round the door and take a look. So what is it like? Absolutely bizarre! I could not believe what I saw when I set foot through the arched wooden door. If any tavern was suited for Captain Jack then this is the one. The interior has been designed like a pirate's ship hence the word corsair which is an old French word and can either mean pirate or ship. These particular treasure filled ships sailed along the southern coast of the Mediterranean in the 17th century and were stunning to look at. Whoever has designed this restaurant/bar has excelled because the standard of carpentry is outstanding. No way, is the interior tacky. Every piece of wood whether it be in the beams of the ceiling, the decks of the galley, the highly polished wooden bar shaped like the bow of a ship, has been crafted with skill. As you enter the bar is to the right which is very eye catching with its polished wood and cloth sails tied back above the bar. Look out for antique lanterns and bells and up on the top shelf you will see many drinking vessels like noggins and fuddling cups. A bit gimmicky but I thought these were fun to look at and I was interested to learn all about sailors drinking habits. Moving on - finding a seat. Well, it wasn't actually packed out as it was a Saturday lunch time when we called in. There are two main seating areas - the lower deck which is opposite the bar and covers a large area and then the upper deck which you have to climb stairs to. This leads out on to a terrace which looks over on to the green area - just a small area with trees and the flower shop. Again, both seating areas are set out like a deck of a boat; the areas being oval in shape with rough plastered walls and an alcove in the centre with book shelves containing ancient leather bound books (only pretend). Both areas have small lights hanging from the ceiling by chains. Tables and benches are made from heavy oak and are quite close together which I didn't like having long legs. We chose to sit downstairs as I was fascinated with the stage which is on the same floor. There wasn't a group playing on this occasion but I was able to fit everything together now seeing the corsair in all it's glory. The stage is a beautifully constructed wooden ship with sails, ropes, masts, everything a ship should have. The wooden floor of the ship is where the sea shanty singers stand and perform and above the ships mast is the lighting section. This was turned on when we were there and it was great fun to watch as the lights kept changing from amber and gold to blue and purple. I'm sure this theme for a restaurant has been covered before but it was the first time I had encountered it and I was really excited about it. So this summer when I am out on the balcony I will have the image of the boat set up with its silk sails flowing as I sip my wine and listen to the manly vocals and hearty rhythms. Okay, let's cut to the chase and get on with the ordering and food which I know you are all dying to know about. As you can imagine the menu theme is connected to the Barbary Coast and pirates. You will see names like Tortuga, Barbarossy, Porto Bella and Bandera. The young man who came to take our order didn't look like Johnny Depp athough he was very nice and friendly. The first thing every good sailor should do is order a beer and that's just what we did. Not a huge selection of beer to choose from so we went with a bottle of Lech each which cost 7zloty for a 33ml bottle. It was nice and chilled which is the way I like it even if the weather isn't hot outside. I always love cold beer. Also a nice little touch is that the waiter poured the beer into a an old fashioned sort of jug for us to drink out of. It felt a bit strange but much better than drinking from the bottle. Our friendly, smiley chappy who really had swallowed some happy pills gave us the menu to study and I could see that although it was quite an imaginative menu as far as the names of the dishes were concerned the food wasn't actually anything too fussy. The usual pub sort of menu really; salads, soups, grilled fish and, meat, ciabatta with enormous fillings, pierogi and burgers and chips for the kids. By the way, I loved the artwork on the menu card - illustrated like an antique map. When my husband saw that pierogi was on the menu he let out a big sigh! Oh no, not pierogi! I think sometimes he forgets he lives in Poland - it's the national dish for goodness sake. When he'd stopped squirming and fidgeting on his seat he decided to order a bowl of tomato soup. On the menu it says that it is a special Spanish soup. Having tasted it I am not sure of the Spanish reference - perhaps the tomatoes were Spanish but I doubt it. My husband said it was okay but there was too much cream in the soup for his liking and Parmesan cheese was added on the top so it tasted a bit sickly. I went with a Uroki Port Royal Salad which was a very large round plate of iceburg lettuce topped with chopped grilled bacon and slices of hard boiled egg covered in a mayonnaise and mustard dressing. It was very tasty as I like smoked bacon and it wasn't too greasy but there was just a bit too much mayonnaise on the plate. Strange that they should serve a salad on a plate - much prefer it in a bowl. Forgot to mention that the waiter came and lit a candle before our dishes arrived which gave a bit more light as the lights hanging from the ceiling were quite dim on the lower deck. As for the main meals we both decided to go with fish. I chose salmon and my husband chose a cod dish which had been fried in sunflower oil he said - definitely not olive oil which he would have preferred. The size of the piece of cod was quite large and meaty - definitely not the tail end. This came served with a Mexican potato salsa. Basically, a potato salad with lots of mayonnaise and cream with kidney beans and sliced pepper and onion added to it. Not what I would really call a Salsa but it looked attractive served on a large plate and to fill the plate up he ordered a portion of chips which cost extra. He said the meal was tasty especially the fish and chips. The chips were home-cooked and not the frozen variety. They were quite crisp and dry - not swimming in oil or soggy. My big chunk of salmon had been grilled, served with tagliatelle in a tomato, bacon and almond sauce. The tagliatelle was a little over cooked so spoilt the dish for me but the salmon was tender and flaked away nicely. Not so sure what to make of the sauce - a strange mixture. I don't think I would have chosen almonds for this particular sauce but it was okay. The dessert menu wasn't inspiring. Three choices; apple pie and cream, various flavours of of ice cream including vanilla, chocolate and strawberry and chocolate muffin served with ice cream. We passed on the desserts as we were both quite full. All the time we had been sat down eating I noticed from the corner of my eye a family sat at the side of us with small children. The waitress allocated to their table was very good with the kids and brought them crayons and a colouring book - pirate style of course and really seemed to engage with them. I thought that was a very positive sign. I even checked out the toilets in this establishment and they were very good. Spotless and really smelt fragrant, a sort of citrusy smell - not lemon but more like orange and grapefruit. There weren't any pirate themes in the loos - well I suppose pirates didn't have toilet facilities - everything went overboard, I guess. Lots of mirrors for you to check bandana, ringlets and beads or do whatever you have to do when a mirror is in front of you. The price for both meals including two beers came to 97 zloty (approx £21.50). Quite cheap really. Let me summarise; the Taverna Korsarz is one of the strangest taverns I've visited and its location is also weird, right on my doorstep. The chalet style building is very attractive inside and the corsair theme is excellent and one I like very much. I mean Captain Jack is my favourite pirate and biggest buddy! There is plenty of floor space although not much leg room as the tables are a bit too close together. The terrace on the top deck is large and I have seen people in the summer sitting outside and having fun. There is a courtyard at the front of the tavern with tables and chairs but there is a wall surrounding the courtyard so consequently you can't see out. That's not a smart idea. The food is hit and miss. It's not bad but I wouldn't rave about it. The staff are very good, friendly and helpful. I didn't see a sea shanty band but I can imagine it being a lot of fun and the stage area is stunning and very well constructed. I think the idea works as a bar and music venue but didn't do it for me as a restaurant. For this reason I am only awarding 4 stars. Will I visit again? Yes, but probably only for a beer or to see a sea shanty band.

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