Nestled in the heart of South Kensington, Ognisko Restaurant effortlessly blends simplicity with timeless charm. Its paired-back interiors have an air of sharpness while retaining a classic allure that comes with a restaurant that is only trying to be itself. The tall Victorian white-washed walls, adorned with delicate detailing, harken back to the building’s history, creating a warm, candlelit atmosphere.
This much loved dining spot (well for those in the know at least), is just a hop from my abode in Earls Court, making for an ideal setting for a Friday night Dinner Date. As you explore the authentic fare, the experience is heightened by the presence of Kavka Vodka; a love letter to Poland’s vodka-making heritage.
A celebration of authentic Polish cuisine with Eastern European influences, cooled off with an icy side shot of vodka
Throughout the ground floor of Ognisko Polskie, the Polish Hearth Club on Exhibition Road, sit neat tables with ironed table cloths – what is this new obsession with restaurants opting for bare wooden tables? Not my thing, and thankfully Ognisko suits the elegance of it’s South Ken surroundings, mostly museums and posh shopping with Knightsbridge being a stone’s throw away.
During my visit, the restaurant was full with chatter, laughing and pools of different London tropes, including a long table of black-tied Chelsea-types celebrating amidst shared dishes. This versatility adds a communal element to the dining experience, bringing people together over hearty, flavourful Eastern and Central European-inspired cuisine. Lovely. The menu at Ognisko is a celebration of authentic Polish cuisine with Eastern European influences, cooled with an icy side shot of vodka. Generous portions, perfect for a frosty January night in London, offer a delicious journey through the region’s culinary traditions.
The dining room at Ognisko Restaurant
The owner’s connection to a vodka brand, Kavka, adds an extra layer of authenticity to the dining experience. Drawing on Poland’s speciality in vodka, Kavka blends fine rye and wheat spirits with aged pot-stilled apple and plum spirits, offering a rare smoothness and depth. The unique woodcut design features a jackdaw bird, translating to Kavka in Polish.
Founder Jan Woroniecki’s Polish roots and extensive experience in Eastern European restaurants, combined with the expertise of Master Distiller Urszula Wojcik and award-winning Cocktail Barman Karol Terejlis, culminate in the creation of Kavka Vodka. The three expressions, including the award-winning Kavka Estate, provide a premium vodka that is pretty perfect.
Ognisko Restaurant delivers an enchanting blend of history, culinary excellence, and a taste of the proprietor’s personal touch with Kavka Vodka.
Now, let’s delve a little deeper into the dishes. The Pork Schnitzel a la Holstein with fried egg, sautéed potatoes, and anchovies is (not to be dramatic) the best Schnitzel I have ever had. The Pierogi, filled with cheese, potato, and onion, was brilliant in its simplicity and just so yummy.
The Choucroute of Golonka, Polish sausage, and bacon served with sauerkraut & horseradish cream is a hefty dish but well worth the order. The generous portions ensure that every bite is satisfying and comforting.
When it came to the choice of cocktail, you guessed it, vodka based seemed to be the only plausible option. Having tippled the Cucumber Martini Kavka Vodka and the Kavka Tokaji Manhattan, it was hard to say which one came up trumps – both were well made and let the vodka do the talking.
Desserts at Ognisko are a delightful finale to the meal. The Pulkownik, a selection of sorbet with a shot of frozen vodka (of course), provides a refreshing and palate-cleansing experience. The Sernik, a vanilla & white chocolate cheesecake, is a sweet indulgence that I still dream of.
Ognisko Restaurant truly delivers an enchanting blend of history, culinary excellence, and a touch of the proprietor’s personal touch with Kavka Vodka. From the inviting interiors to the diverse menu and exceptional drinks, it’s a culinary journey that leaves a lasting imprint – a true gem in the heart of South Kensington.
Address: 55 Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2PG