It is accurate to say that you have not seen all of Malbork Castle until you have visited the Gothic Restaurant, located in its east wing, traditionally occupied by the most important guests of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. The medieval tradition of the interior and the cuisine meets modernity here, and this is precisely why the Gothic Restaurant allows you to get acquainted with some secrets of medieval cooking. You will be surprised, for instance, by chicken coated with castle-style gingerbread – it turns out that this is how our 15th-century ancestors used to eat poultry. Although such a dish may sound strange and taste exotic to some, cuisine at the Gothic is definitely traditional and accessible in taste rather than bizarre. This will certainly be good news for enthusiasts of traditional pork chops, which are always served here with baked potatoes, beans, bacon, garlic, and stewed cabbage.
The castle's remarkably dignified atmosphere adds a truly ceremonial quality to the dinner while the stylish décor makes us feel cosy. The restaurant's co-owner and head chef Bogdan Gałązka graduated from the Culinary Academy of New York. He is a keen enthusiast of cooking and it is to him that the Gothic owes its culinary communication with the spirits of the ancestors. The restaurant in the castle is a venue where extraordinary dinners and ceremonies take place, with harp music played to the delight of diners and with maidens washing the guests' hands in water with rose petals. In this truly royal atmosphere, guests can feel like mighty rulers and taste the amazing cuisine inspired by the Middle Ages. The dishes are seasoned with beautiful compositions of herbs from the castle garden, passionately cultivated by Bogdan Gałązka. A truly outstanding personality, he is also an author of books – Grand Masters' Cuisine (Kuchnia wielkich mistrzów) and The Cuisine of Poland's Kings (Kuchnia królów Polski) – as well as a blogger. He loves telling anecdotes connected with the history of cuisine. When showing us around the restaurant, he tells us what kinds of fowl used to be reserved for the plates of a particular social strata in the Middle Ages, what and how was served to the Grand master, and what customs were observed at the castle. As he once admitted, he prefers to ride his orange bicycle rather than to drive an expensive car, but he likes to serve dishes to the restaurant's guests on expensive tableware. The head chef has played host at his restaurant to numerous celebrities, politicians, and well-known figures of Polish show business, but he says it is peace and friendly relations with his team that he values most. It is those relations that have been the key to the wonderful atmosphere, strongly felt at this castle-based restaurant. Shared meals and time for a morning coffee together provide good opportunities to share observations from the previous day or ideas for the following day. What we found the most charming was the great kindliness that Bogdan Gałązka shows when greeting everyone he meets, regardless of whether that happens to be the restaurant's guest or the castle's gardener; he finds time to chat with everyone for a while.
We sit down to the feast in a solemn atmosphere. We start with an appetizer, deciding to have two different ones. Little potato dumplings stuffed with rabbit, served with dark sauce, are served warm. They melt in the mouth. They are soft and delicate and the meat is perfectly seasoned. Beef sirloin marinated in bison grass vodka, soya sauce, and horseradish leaves, served with white turnip and roasted black sesame, is perfectly tender and juicy. The interestingly composed marinade gives it a unique taste.
In such a traditional atmosphere, we cannot resist trying their broth. That is an inspired choice – the soup tastes like one of grandma's dishes. The warming-up stock of meat and vegetables is perfectly salty and appropriately fatty. After meat appetizers, we decide to try fish. What draws our attention is roasted zander fillet coated with cornflakes, served over beans and grilled seasonal vegetables with chorizo chips and grilled lemon. This makes an extraordinary composition. The cornflake coating contrasts perfectly with the soft texture of the fish, which makes the dish exceptionally pleasant to the palate. The remaining ingredients complement one another's taste. An interesting culinary idea turns out to be chorizo chips.
Although we are full, we cannot resist a dessert. If you haven't tried saffron ice cream yet, the Gothic is a perfect place to go through such an initiation rite. Complemented by the company of caramelized fruit, it is a true delight to the palate.
There are many reasons that make Malbork worth visiting. The castle is probably the main tourist attraction, but in order to be fully satisfied with the excursion you absolutely must succumb to the restaurant's atmosphere, get acquainted with the extraordinary authenticity of this place, listen to the stories told by Head Chef Bogdan Gałązka, and experience a culinary adventure with the exquisite flavours of the Gothic.
saffron ice cream with caramelized mulberry fruit – 30 PLN
broth – 15 PLN
little potato dumplings stuffed with rabbit, served with dark sauce – 25 PLN
roasted zander fillet coated with cornflakes, served over beans and grilled seasonal vegetables with chorizo chips and grilled lemon – 49 PLN
beef sirloin marinated in bison grass vodka, soya sauce, and horseradish leaves, served with white turnip and roasted black sesame – 45 PLN
Text and photos: Joanna Ogórek
GOTHIC CAFE & RESTAURANT
Starościńska 1, Malborkphone: +48 55 647 08 89