Food Hall Breweries - That's the way to do it!

Distributors of blockbusters wait with trembling hearts for the so-called "opening weekend", during which attendance shows (or not) the success of a film.  Following this, my friends and I decided to check the Food Hall during the "opening weekend", or, more precisely, on the first Saturday afternoon of their existence. There will be upsides, but also downsides, because "nobody's perfect except Grzegorz Markowski's band". - as the old musical saying goes.

Going into the Food Hall, we were a bit worried about the place. It has long been rumored that the Food Hall at the Breweries is a renovated storage cellar - century-old, brick-walled, closed space. So we expected the worst - that it would be unbearably loud, in the manner of stone church acoustics, and that - since we are dealing with historic interiors - the place would not be able to cope with ventilation and we would leave the Food Hall with our clothes smelling with oil, herring and oriental spices.

Well, cool it - none of these fears have been confirmed. I don't know what miracles have been performed here with the air circulation, but you absolutely do not feel that there are as many as 11 kitchens inside. There is also no church acoustic - although the stone arches are exposed. Even music played on the bar does not echo on the walls and conversations can be held without raising your voice.

And now the atmosphere.

And with this atmosphere, the Food Hall can easily make other gastro-halls in Warsaw blush. Because it is simply beautiful here. Imagine a combination of New York's Grand Central Terminal with the spacious hall of the Louvre or another equally visually refined art gallery. An impressive amount of light and characteristic curves of the walls resulting from the barrel-vaulted ceiling, and the fortunate lack of fussy glamour. The whole thing is hard to compare to any food hall. It is surprisingly bright, optimistic, casual yet elegant. Standing in front of the entrance I listened (in) to a few "statements" of "gastro tourists" coming out of the Food Hall Breweries. They were saying things like "worldly", "nice place", "it's impressive" and I could use similar phrases about what I saw with my own eyes.

The space has been planned very carefully. Most guests entering the main entrance come into the central "tunnel", opened by Bar Centralny. There are so many people working by Bar Centralny that it is impossible to "wait in line". Further on, or rather "deeper", there are benches that can easily accommodate over a dozen of people. Along the deepest part of "FHB" (let me abbreviate the full name), there is a kind of "restaurant room" which is more intimate.

The two side aisles host all the "restaurants" which have been given the same visual flair - in keeping with the "brass and vat" soul of the whole building, which is the Warsaw Breweries. They were placed like fields on a chessboard, alternating with subsequent barstools. In fact, the popularity of the place is felt only in these side tunnels. The aisles are seemingly wide, but when there are lines to order, you have to wait to walk along the left or right side of the hall.

Many people order inside and eat "outside", as the place facilitates as many as two gardens. The bigger one is in front of the main entrance, opposite the most colourful stairs in Warsaw (with a graphic work by Dawid Ryski which is often photographed), and the more intimate and quieter one is hidden on the opposite side of the hall. So you can choose whether you want to look at the multicolored crowd, or hide from the whole world.

And now it's time for the most important thing - because, against all the appearances, it's not about comfort and visual experience in this concept, it's about… the food.

And this is what we call the cherry on top! There are eleven restaurants here, but today I will focus on those whose culinary skills I had a chance (or rather luck) to taste. Absolutely honestly, and fully aware of what I am saying, I can admit that such a level-pegging as the one held by the local restaurants can hardly be found even in the cult Berlin Markthalle Neun!

We started with the chicken pad thai from "Silk & Spicy". May your life be as good as this pad thai was. It's basically no difference in taste or serving from those served in a restaurant. This is probably because that the pad thai and all the dishes here are served on restaurant tableware - metal cutlery and glass glasses. This "non-single-usability" of the dishes also deserves praise.

My better half ordered pad thai and I decided to taste the ramen served here by a place called "okarima Ramen". Those who have already discovered the many natures of this Asian broth know that ramen lovers are divided into tonkotsulovers, shoyumaniac and tantanodrinkers. I belong to the latest. Yes, I occasionally eat the less dense and more brothy varieties based on fish or beef, but my heart is stolen by the version with the fullest texture, which is due to sesame paste. So here they have tantan ramen - thankfully, but.... only in the vegan version. At first I was even close to get tempted by the meat shoyu, but.... curiosity of the new won and this choice was even more than succesfull! I have never imagined that I would be looking for the owner of "Okarima" (and his name - Karim - probably has something to do with the name of the restaurant ;)) to thank him for the opportunity to slurp a meatless version of my beloved and bacon-based (so far) soup! By the way - meat structures were replaced in "tantan vegan" with perfect substitutes dressed in crispy batter and perfectly replacing bacon inserts. The noodles also deserve praise, as they soak up the broth fantastically and everything, seriously - everything that went into my bowl! The whole thing is pleasantly spicy and I am already whetting my appetite to enjoy this ramen again. By the way, Karim told me that his kitchen is staffed by people of Uki Uki - Warsaw ramen mecca, and the recipes for the meals were wangled from a Japanese ramen master living in Poland, so the base of the place is as solid as the base of the broth served here. 

And although I was already full I decided to taste one more dish. You know how it is - there are 11 completely new concepts around, all signed by the names of prominent Warsaw restaurateurs. It's so stupid not to eat your fill and not to try more and more, and...

For the "third course" I chose the famous (since it was popularized in Warsaw by "Dziurka od klucza") black, sepia colored pasta with calmari and chorizo - from "Octo Pasta Pizza". Anyway, Octo is not far from the mentioned Dziurka od klucza, because we are talking about the fruit of work of the same owners...

You know that feeling when you are in a new restaurant and everything tastes like hell, and even though you feel full around your belly button, you take something else from the menu because "they feed so well here", and this last dish somehow doesn't work, although the next time you come to the same place when you are not so full, the same dish does the job? Well, I get to Octo in just that state and.... I get a shock!

Every bite of this wonderful pasta, bathed in a thick tomato sauce and featuring plenty of seafood and Iberian cold cuts, is frighteningly delicious! I'm terribly curious to see how their pizza will be, though we didn't have a chance to find out on the opening weekend, as their oven wasn't started and they will offer Italian pizzas at Octo in the second half of the last week of September.

Three different locations – three different dishes and three times "YES!" – absolutely sincere, very enthusiastic and fully deserved. It’s worth it. It is worth like hell, and I can’t wait any more to get to know about egg rolls by “Viet Nem”Viet Nem”, burgers by”Boston Burger” and “and “Hawaiian herrings” by”S’poke & Śledzie". I will not deny myself to taste a neapolitan sandwich by”A’Panu Occo?!” and I will look more closely at the menu of “Jasna Sprawa” - also because I tasted ordered by my friends’ daughter a white chocolate cheesecake, that is also a secret but positive hero of this review (I recommend to taste it), And I will try to divide another “written tasting confession” into descriptions of individual restaurants, because this text has gone thick beyond an average opinion piece, and I have to apologize.

All right. It’s time to fuss around. Downsides were divided into two categories: “hopefully temporary downsides” and “apparent downsides".

The "apparent downside" is certainly the fact that no matter how much one wants to, there is no option - it is impossible to taste even one dish from all 11 restaurants while one visit to the Food Hall. Especially since the ramen was big, the pad thai was almost bulky, and even the smallest of my trio i.e. noodles could hardly be called an appetizer. Fortunately, it is the apparent downside, because it is also an advantage. It's really going to take at least a few visits to experience the artistry of all the cuisines here, and it's going to take a couple of months to taste all the dishes of all the menus, which are probably going to change in the meantime, so... the food at the Food Hall Brewery has a lot of potential to never get bored.

"The temporary downside" is certainly a "navigation" issue. While there are clear signboards over some of the booths, and Viet Nem has already gotten itself a lovely neon sign, a few places are still overly anonymous. There are no menus or restaurant names on the plafonds, and the only branding is an A4 printed menu available on the bar counter, which doesn't really fit with the new town aesthetic of the whole place.

It is with a painful heart that I call Silk & Spicy to the board, which for reasons unclear to me neither provides "buzzers" (like "Octo" or "okarima"), nor notes "numbers" on the receipts, which creates unnecessary confusion. As a result - I've waited for my pad thai for over 25 minutes, although it was ready after 10 minutes, but... it was stolen by another client (who ordered this delicacy much later than me). However, the attitude of a chef deserves credit, who, while realizing this service mistake, dropped everything and in a "minute" saved the situation by making the pad thai out of turn. Seriously - these numbers and "buzzers" (I mean "vibrating electronumers") make sense and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you believe in them, and masters of the Thai food.

The bigger downside, and hopefully equally temporary, is that you don't quite know what to do with the trays and plates once you've eaten and want to eat something else. Tableware crowds the table and it takes some time before someone collects it (in turn, glasses disappears so quickly that those who have drinks sometimes don't have time to finish their drinks). I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth putting shelves for trays and dishes along the benches, somewhere next to the garbage cans, because, after all, in such places it is rare for anyone to finish their feast with just one dish.

And a word about hygiene behind the scenes - because in such places it is often the Achilles heel. The restrooms at the Food Hall Brewery are of a very high standard. There are enough toilet cubicles (also in case of the ladies room - it's second-hand information), there are no queues and the service deserves credit for not allowing (at least during the opening weekend) for shortages of all necessary items in all kinds of containers, despite the undoubtedly heavy traffic.

 

P.S.

Just a moment ago, accidentally typing "Food Hall", I made a typo here due to the fact that "f" is next to "g" and "Good Hall" appeared on my laptop screen. And actually... why not! The food here is certainly "good", the bar as well, the vibe and atmosphere as much as possible, and the look is also "good looking". So Good Luck dear Food Hall. Hopefully we can get together as often as possible.

 

Sample prices:

Vegas Tantan Ramen by "okarima Ramen" – PLN 31

Pad Thai with chicken by "Silk & Spica" – PLN 29

Black pasta with chorizo and calamari by “Octo Pasta Pizza" – PLN 36

Martini’s response to the famous spritzer is PLN 36

Martini Fiero with tonic water – PLN 24