Review #2: Nolita

25 April 2014

When I planned my short Warsaw trip, I was rather looking forward to enjoying a meal at Nolita again. My previous meal there, an excellent lunch, left my expectations of this place high for a fine tasting menu dinner.

I got there at the restaurant’s opening time; I had scheduled an earlier dinner since I was knackered from jetlag and also had a nearby appointment a block away. The restaurant was not busy, just 1 other table that was seated after me. I relaxed as the staff looks like they were ready for me!

However, bad surprise number 1 hit when I asked about the tasting menu — and they promptly said only for 2 or more diners. To the credit of the staff they said they’ll ask chef if an exception would be made. I in the meantime enjoyed a cocktail to relax.

Unfortunately the word came back that chef said no. They’d be willing to do half portions of some starters, but…this was a turn-off. Oh well, if chef can’t make an exception in an empty restaurant, that’s fine with me. I ordered from the a la carte menu and tried to relax again despite this hiccup.

I chose a white that came with the sommelier’s recommendations. Wee acidic, though it moderated a bit as the meal went on. However, that made me drink rather less than I normally would for a nice relaxing Friday night dinner. Goodness I needed the booze at a later point…read on…

A pair of amuse bouche came…to be honest they were rather non-descript and I don’t remember much of it. I was still smarting over not getting the tasting menu and also distracted by tweets coming in about Ukraine (which has dominated my focus for months). So to be fair, I won’t say more about them.

The starter soon arrived, which was actually quite fun to look at — even if you can’t guess what it is from initial appearance.

nolita octo

This was the boiled octopus with pepper emulsion. Cute, but the key is the taste. The octopus was nicely done, and the mild pepper emulsion was a nice touch. The wasabi cream potato was nice but it was not too compatible with the pepper, so I enjoyed them separately. A good start, not mind-blowing, but good.

I relaxed a bit and wondered how the tasting would have been, especially if it featured other items like the crab salad and tartare…oh well, I need to stop obsessing over this slight… The main course then arrived.

nolita filet-o-fish

I mentioned in my previous review how nice the turbot was back then, so I went for it again, with a new treatment this time — with cauliflower, risotto with Joselito jamon and capers. I tore into it and after a few bites I stopped…

Oh goodness. After a few bites it was nagging at me what the taste reminded me of, a strange and unpleasant memory. Then it all hit me…


Oh dear, this was essentially a plated, deconstructed Filet-o-Fish! The capers turned the sauce into a awful reminder of that terrible tartar-like thing in the McHell sandwiches. The fish was utterly bland and totally overcooked. On the other hand, the risotto was utterly undercooked and tasted like quinoa. And the utter WASTE of Joselito should be condemned.

I have not had such a poor plate of haute food since Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner I suspect. Throw in the strange collection of cauliflower — some heavily pickled, some tasting like styrofoam… Frankly, nothing on this plate worked — compared to how well the turbot dish worked nearly a year ago here. Wow, what happened?

Maybe there’s a reason this restaurant is empty on a Friday night. I know fine dining is tough in Warsaw in weekends, but this is perhaps a sign. I definitely didn’t want anything else to eat. I ended up with some overpriced grappa waiting for a cab. I was so ticked off I was liable to get stinky drunk if I chose to walk home (and stop at various pubs, bars, and “alkohol” kiosks en route). That’s how disturbed I was with this 180-degree turn by what I had deemed “a favourite” just last May.

Overpriced. Inflexible. Awful dish. I for one will not be anticipating anything for Nolita, because I certainly won’t be back again.

Wilcza 46
Warszawa, Polska