Flavia Borawska, who started out as an intern at Noma in Copenhagen, has worked with famed chef Fabio Picchi in Florence and at The Clove Club and Brunswick House in London – but her latest gig sees her returning to Warsaw, the city where she grew up. Once, this might have seemed an unlikely choice for an ambitious young chef, but not today. While the Polish capital's culinary credits were dominated by a line-up of traditional fare – sour rye soup, potato pancakes with sour cream, Pierogi Ruskie dumplings – there is now a lively food scene, with a new wave of chefs creating a blueprint for modern Polish cuisine.
Polish-Italian Borawska steps into the role of head chef for the first time at Opasły Tom, a highly aesthetic affair put together by local design outfit Buck Studio. Amid the sharp interiors, my recent dinner was pitch perfect. Like other fresh Warsaw offerings – chiefly Szóstka in Hotel Warszawa, where chef Dariusz Baranski brings the countryside into the kitchen with aplomb – Opasły Tom has cast the net wide for authentic ingredients that play with the very specific sourness of Polish cuisine.
The seven-course tasting menu (from 198PLN, about £41) started with smoked catfish – flawlessly crisp and crunchy, its rich smokiness tempered with artisanal yoghurt – followed by a velvety cream of corn soup that combined the sweetness of coconut milk and an infusion of leeks with the saltiness of kindziuk, a smoked Polish sausage. A triumph.
The succession of impressive dishes continued with cod in smoked tomato broth on a bed of spinach. It was earthy and honest, full of flavour and brimming with generosity. Melt-in-the-mouth veal shoulder was beautifully balanced with white runner beans and chanterelles, apricots and a dash of meaty broth. For dessert: fresh goat's cheese mousse with pickled cucumbers and charlock, followed by a grand finale of rhubarb granita, panna cotta with verbena, raspberry mousse and crumble.
Borawska has created a culinary landscape without borders, but with flavours and a passion that quite simply dance off the plate.