Treasures of the Uphagen villa: Majolika restaurant
Majolika restaurant is located in a beautiful neo-baroque palace in the centre of the Gdańsk district of Wrzeszcz. Almost all residents of Gdańsk recognize Patschke’s villa, often called the Uphagen villa because of its location on Uphagen Street. However, perhaps not everybody knows what treasures it contains. Today I will be your guide around this place, where you can feel the spirit of history and taste modern Polish flavours.
Let me start with a bit of history. The building which is home to Majolika restaurant was built at the beginning of the 20th century to the order of Rudolf Patschke, a respected Gdańsk entrepreneur. The palace was decorated with panache and style, and its main decoration is unique tiles, called ‘majoliki’, from the imperial manufacturing works in Kadyny - hence the name of the restaurant. These majolica tiles are particularly special, as there are only two other places where they can be found - Berlin and Wrocław.
However, these tiles are not the only element of decoration worth admiring in the restaurant: the walls, from floors to ceilings, are decorated with beautiful stuccoes which merit your attention. Thus, before passing on to the culinary wealth of this place, I recommend taking a small walk around it.
Quite apart from the historical interiors and unique tiles, good food is a definite advantage of this venue. Piotr Nowakowski, a chef specializing in Polish cuisine, looks after the culinary aspects of the restaurant.
"I have introduced Polish cuisine in its modern manifestation to Majolica restaurant, and I wouldn’t like it to be too simple in the form of serving and taste, so we can surprise and intrigue our guests with every dish," says the chef. "When arranging the menu, I care about preserving the seasonality of vegetables, fruit and fish. I want to work with as many local products as possible, so if I can, they come from our local suppliers in Kashubia. We have strong relations with a fish farm producing sturgeon and pike-perch, we make our own bread, and we collect sea buckthorn and dogwood."
Each item from the Majolika menu contains some local products, like wild mushrooms from Kashubian forests, sea buckthorn, dogwood, seasonal fish and vegetables. After reading the menu everything seems tempting, starting from the guinea fowl broth and “pierogi” - traditional Polish dumplings - through Polish snails in garlic and white wine, to a dish of perch with pea mash with a beetroot sponge served with potato-parsley gratin.
I start with fried herring, one of the chef's favourite dishes. The fresh fish fillets are fried in butter and served with pebble-sized potatoes and pickled vegetables. The whole dish looks beautifully and intriguing, and has a very special taste. I bet that a lot clients would try to guess what kind of pebbles had been put on their plates. I personally love these moments when the chef winks to the guest and says: "I will surprise you now!".
The second dish I try surprises me with its colors: the intense blue of the plate contrasts with the dark orange of caramelized carrot and sea buckthorn accompanying juicy, perfectly fried venison tenderloin. What I really like is the combination of the meat with the sourness of the sea buckthorn, and guests will relish this unique food pairing.
A second surprise is crispy unroasted buckwheat chips. I also try a delicate rabbit roll with green peas and a smooth beetroot-potato mash, with purple carrot pickles.
Finally I order an apple pie. Surprised? After the culinary show from the chef already, I feel sure that I will not get an ordinary cake and I am perfectly right. I get delicate, thin, crunchy flakes layered with apples in cinnamon and butter. I know all these flavours from an ordinary apple pie but this version deviates from the classic one and is another pleasant surprise.
If you go to Majolica with children, it is worth visiting this place on Sunday, between 13:00 and 16:30, when the playground is open. This is an ideal solution for parents who want enjoy their food in their own company, free of their children, as they are well looked after by an entertainer. Visiting a restaurant is often a boring event for kids, but not in this case.
As Karolina Okroj, the restaurant manager, says: "We want our guests to feel very special here, and not only be attracted here for consumption. There are not many places for families with children in the Tri-City, so here in Majolika we welcome them with a smile. Together with our entertainer we give parents a moment to have a break from their kids, who we involve in creative activities. These interiors are calling out for family parties such as baptisms, communions, birthdays and wedding receptions, but are also perfect for business meetings. Professional branding, historical interiors, regional products and original cuisine are the watchwords place. We act as creators, taking our restaurant into a slightly different dimension.”
If you visit Majolica without children I highly recommend extending your historical trip and reading the specially composed drinks menu. While sipping “Zbyszek z Bogdańca” or “Żydówka z pomarańczami” the beauty of this unique place is even more visible.
Those looking for good food in Gdansk will certainly be very happy with a visit to Majolika restaurant.
Uphagena 23, 80-237 Gdańsk
Phone.: +48 602 722 602
The author of text and photo: Anna Włodarczyk
Aficionado of good food, regional products and flavours. Author of the best-selling cook book, “Retro kuchnia” (“Retro kitchen”), in which she re-discovers forgotten, pre-war recipes. Author of www.strawberriesfrompoland.pl blog, photographer, and culinary journalist.