Ognisko is a distinguished white table cloth restaurant that is good for all occasions. Be it a formal dinner in the grand main dining hall or a relaxed indulgent summer lunch in the relaxed garden marque. It churns out masterfully cooked wholesome and homely traditional Polish dishes – in generous portions and at good value. Start with some Polish dumplings and pancakes with a couple of flavoured vodkas and work your way through a brilliant menu.
What is the food like?
Wholesome and homely. Polish cooking is about big portion, high carb, plenty of meat and strong flavours – perfect recipe for a feast for all occasions. Ognisko uses traditional staple ingredients like pork, pickled cabbage & cucumber, potatoes, mushrooms and cream to churn out beautiful traditional Polish dishes, masterfully cooked. Enjoy hallmark dishes like kotlet schabowy (pork schnitzel), karkowka (grilled pork shoulder), pierogi (dumplings), placki (potato pancakes), kopytka (gnocchi), ogorkowa (sour cucumber soup) with a healthy portion of pickled cabbage (sauerkraut) and cucumbers.
How is the drinks selection?
Vodka, vodka and more vodka. As home to Belvedere vodka and Chopin vodka, it is only fitting that vodka takes centre stage in Ognisko. Help yourself to a shot of these two Polish and other non-Polish super premium vodka for £4.75 per shot or a 10cl carafe for £17 or 25cl for £44, or 50cl for £84. I don’t think I have ever had a carafe/bottle of vodka at lunch nor dinner at a restaurant before. Reminded me of one of the scene in Killing Eves where Villanelle was having lunch with Dasha.
The fun doesn’t stop there, there is also a selection of flavoured vodkas, from orange & ginger, horseradish to bison grass, chilli and many more. And all these wonderful vodka also come in various guises of classic and unique-to-Ognisko cocktails. Make sure you leave some room for the food.
What is the place like?
Ognisko is a distinguished white table cloth restaurant. It is located on the ground floor of one of the majestic Georgian townhouses on Exhibition Road facing the Imperial College next to the Science Museum & Natural History Museum. The main dining hall is formal, grand with its high ceiling and dark wood floors but understated with its simple deco and plain white colours.
At the back of the restaurant is the more informal and relaxed garden marque seating. It looks out to the greenery of Princes Garden, a perfect spot for an indulgent summer lunch.
Who are the patrons?
Well dressed couples on dates, a few larger groups of young adults and multi-generational family gathering. A diverse cross-section of Londoners looking for a classy location with a unique culinary experience.
How was the service?
Mixed. We got two extremes while we were there. One was friendly, knowledgeable and sharp. He gave us one of the best summary of a menu we have come across in any restaurant. Another was brisk and cold. But the service in general was a clockwork. Dishes took a little while to get out of the kitchen, but plates and cutleries were cleared and replenished promptly.
Is it child friendly?
Yes, high chair available on demand with room for pram storage. But child’s menu are not smaller portions of dishes from the great menu, but your standard nuggets, etc.
Is it dog friendly?
Great value. Generous portions. Most expensive main is £22 for a rump of lamb or £19 for roast hake. The restaurant do charge a discretionary 12.5% service charge.
See below for what my dining companions and I indulged in for this review (prices quoted include VAT):
2008 Chateau Lanessan Haut Medoc
A rich, medium bodied Haut-Medoc Bordeaux red. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Easy drinking, slightly on the sweet side. Great value for what it offers. £27
Pan-fried Duck Hearts
Fresh, well cooked duck hearts. Strong game flavours beautifully balanced with sharpness from the parsnip & apple puree. £8.00
Mediocre smoked eel served with toast, potato salad and pickled vegetable. £9.50
Dumpling – Pierogi
Most popular traditional Polish comfort dish. Steamed dumpling parcels filled with pork and shredded duck. £8
Placki – Spiced Chicken Livers
This isn’t a photogenic dish, but it makes it up in taste. Flavoursome spiced chicken livers cooked with dried cherries matched beautifully with the crunchy potato pancakes. £7.50
Blinis – Keta Caviar
Such a beautifully presented dish. Perfectly browned buckwheat pancakes arranged neatly. with garnishing of sour cream, raw onions and shredded boiled egg. Love the bright orange colour the Keta caviar. £11
Pork Schnitzel a la Holstein
One from the neighbour. Beautifully made schitnzel, pounded and tenderised, uniformly coated with crunchy breadcrumbs. Served with smooth mashed potatoes and topped with sunny side up fried egg. £18
The well-earned star of the show. Half portion of roast duck stuffed with traditional kasza (gluten-free buckwheat) served with apple and fig compote and red cabbage. The buckwheat has a fragrant aroma which worked gorgeously with moist wholesome meat. Serves 2 for £34.