Ognisko is a Central and Eastern European restaurant (mainly focusing on Polish food) located in South Kensington (on Exhibition road). I went to Ognisko for dinner on a Saturday evening as my friend Nika had booked this for us and as I like eastern European food and have not yet found a good place in London where to get it.
I was very impressed with the location of Ognisko. Ognisko restaurant was located on the ground floor of a beautiful building in South Ken, one of these buildings that if it was a flat it would be worth unimaginable sums of money. The same building also houses the Ognisko Polskie club. The dining room is grand and this does not seem like the place where the average Pole that has arrived to London hangs out, the dining room has a feeling of old Polish wealth. There is also apparently a large terrace where you can go during the summer months and overlook the communal gardens. And in case you want to hold a wedding or a large event, they have space for this too on the first floor.
Nika said she had been to Ognisko not too long ago and the food was very good, so I was looking forward to the meal, but unfortunately it was not that amazing. You can either order a la carte, which we did, or order from some of the set menus which will offer a variety of starters, main courses and desserts to share among people. The a la carte menu features appetizers, starters, dumplings, blinis, meat and fish dishes and 1 vegetarian dish (as Eastern Europeans are not really traditionally keen on this vegetarian stuff). I did like the menu as it had a nice selection of eastern European and Polish dishes and all the dishes I associate with Eastern Europe and love to eat were there. Prices are from £6 to £9 for starters and around £17/18 on average for main courses. Also another thing that I very much liked was that on the table there was the typical eastern European dark bread, which I love and pickles, which I also love, with butter and beetroot, I had not seen this sort of combination of things to put on the table before.
Nika and I ordered a starter of borsch, the beetroot soup that Central and Eastern Europe loves. The dish was called “barszcz with pasztecik”. I was quite disappointing borsh, because there was no actual thing in the borsch, no vegetables, no meat, nothing you usually find in a borsch it was just a liquid soup with nothing in it. The soup was delicious, had a nice intense flavour that borsch has. It was served with mini meat pies which were tasty. The other starters you can see in the pictures which we had were “Herring fillet with onion, gherkin and apple” (which I actually had as my main course) and seared scallops. I thought the herring dish was not great as well, I was not keen on the apple in there, and I could eat the salad but did not like it too much. My friend Nika who also had the borsch and the herring salad had the same opinion on the food, it was ok but not great at all, quite a bit disappointing, and Nika said she had had much better food the previous time when she came here.
My friend Ipek ordered “Lamb Shashlik with Aubergine and Garlic Yoghurt” and the meat was not properly cooked. It was quite raw in the middle. I don’t mind raw meat when it is supposed to be raw and you ask for it, but you rarely (I have actually never) see a shashlik that is raw. Also eastern Europeans are traditionally obsessed with their meat being properly cooked due to all the diseases you can get if it is not, so this was strange. Adam though ordered a dish that I thought was amazing and I had serious food envy, it had sausages, meat and sauerkraut, typical eastern European food that looked delicious.
Ognisko was a bit hit and miss on this visit (mainly miss), but I do like the grand dining room and the restaurant and the whole atmosphere in which the food was served and also it was not that expensive especially being in South Ken. I am willing to give this place another go as I so like eastern European food and maybe we just had a bad night, but as of now it is 3Ms.
Date: 26/ 04/ 14
Price for 4 people with alcohol: £131.06
Location: South Kensington