Review #3: Senses

1 October 2016

One of the things I looked most forward to on this trip was my very quick stop in Warsaw en route to Lithuania the next day. I timed a connection perfectly so I got to have dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in the world, Senses. I still remember my first visit here, totally blown away…

Since I previous visit last year, my friend Andrea Camastra’s restaurant had been given a Michelin star, and people are finally taking notice of what I saw since the first few months this place opened. I’m so glad it’s going so well!

I ran into Andrea outside as I got to the restaurant, and we caught up a bit before he headed into the kitchen and the excellent staff showed me to my table. I have to say, the service here has always been top-notch and the FoH here is one of this restaurant’s best assets.

I relaxed as they caught me up with some developments and how they want to do the pairing, and I told them to go for it and surprise me. This should be fun! Then, as expected, quickly the amuse segment begins…

01b-olive-lamb-ham

The first item was kind of cute, an “olive” filled with local cheese with some lamb ham. This came with a nice Aperol Spritz too. Then we got into a large set of goodies…

02a-puff

First was a saffron rice puff with mortadella…

02b

Then a cute green olive taco with bresaola and smoked mackerel…

02c

And finally the potato pancake souffle with smoked salmon. Mmm, all three were tasty, although the rice puff was a little hard to eat due to its big size! But an excellent set, getting me ready for the tasting to commence. Oh, of course the excellent bread service too…that lovely apple essence…

bread

Then we began the first course with a very nice New Zealand riesling…

03b-smoked-trout-ham

Mmm, this was a joyful tasting of cured sea trout and lardo from the Tuscan Cinta Senese heritage pig. Lovely flavours that worked well alone or in combination, as well as with the horseradish-centric foam on the side. Oh, did I forget the wee brioche that came on the side? Mmm…a nice surprise in the centre complemented the nicely steamed treat. Good start!

04b-pierogi

Next up a cute “Russian pierogi” in a tasty broth. The lardo and prawn combination was dreamy, and you can’t see it but there’s also bottarga… A lot of stuff in a small package! I wish I did the photo better as it really didn’t show this right. A wonderful pairing came by way of Jerez too…

So far I’m really enjoying this. The first two dishes were excellent, though for some reason I was tasting a lot of salt where there wasn’t. I suspect too much flying has utterly dehydrated me. Goodness, the last few weeks I’ve been in Tokyo, California, Vienna, London, Frankfurt, etc… Anyway, a beer is brought courtesy of Arzak, and the next dish arrives…

05a-venison

You can’t quite see, but it’s a fabulous venison tartar under the healthy amount of truffles. A little hard to eat logistically, but fabulous stuff. Lovely quality venison. I usually am not a fan of truffle due to its texture, but they have sliced these so well that this worked excellent. A rare “yay truffle” for me here. Plus, not pictured, a nice cup of mushroom broth.

I was happy with this tasting so far as you can see, and then the lambrusco was poured with essence of beet. Then the next course arrived, and as you imagine it’s focused on beets.

06b-beet

I love beets, so I love this. A fabulous tasting of beets, including a tasty sorbet. And a healthy amount of goat cheese too, one of those awesome combinations that always works. Fabulous break here, but with an Austrian tipple being poured, I see the next item coming…I smell it too…

07b-gulyas

I’ve enjoyed Chef’s take on gulyas in the past, but this is a more tempered version that focuses on the twin goodies of pork cheeks and king crab. Oh my…what a rich and wonderful selection. The king crab was just juicy as anything, and the cheeks were soft and succulent. Oh, and on the side, was a very cute “hot dog” full of more crab…wow…I can eat these things forever! Awesome stuff!

With that strong dish we needed a palate cleanser, and indeed it arrived… A nice grapefruit-centric shot, and we were ready to continue. A nice biodynamic wine from Alsace was poured and the next item arrived.

08-scallop

Oooh, these scallops were just absolutely lovely. One of the best quality scallops I’ve had, even if we add Japan to that list. The sweetness was just oozing out of these babies, and the cucumber and dill really made this a wonderful, refreshing dish. Wow, one of the dishes of the year…

I was still smiling as we move back drink-wise to New Zealand and we were presented with the next dish, wild sea bass.

09-sea-bass

Solid fish, but I thought this was a bit on the thick side. For some reason, I feel far more full this meal than I usually do here. Perhaps again with the consequences of flying too much, but I felt pretty full. However, this dish I gotta say the star was that Astrolabe sauvignon blanc… A rare so-so dish here.

I was getting really full, but I know there’s one more savoury dish as I see a big Italian red being poured. Then I started to smell what was coming and got excited again…

10b-rib

Oh my when they opened the box and I saw this beautiful imported Kobe beef rib. This was utterly fabulous, the rich beef just melting in one’s mouth. Beautiful stuff, another candidate for dish of the year. I actually grabbed the box just to keep sniffing it… I wish I could have taken the bone home!

Wow…I was very full. That was a heavy dinner. Good, but heavier than I am used to these days almost. The pairings have been utterly fabulous and rarely do a pairing stand out so strong for me. Kudos to the team for this selection! Then a wee cannolo to start the sweet portion of this meal…

11-cannolo

Nice stuff, then the main dessert came, a tribute to the apple…

12-dessert

Wow. They called it “Apple Pie” and every portion has a resemblance to apple pie here. Excellent flavours working well both alone or together. And a fabulous Hungarian riesling added to the wonder of this. Awesome close!

But it’s not a close… a few more treats were coming, a tasting of cranberries…

13-dessert

…And even more…with a bit of a presentation…

14e-dessert-set

Look at all this… It was almost too much!

14f-cone

Took awhile to fully enjoy all this, but at the end, we close with what has become the traditional last item, my cigar…

15a-cigar

Lovely stuff, just sniffed it for a few minutes before eating it. Lovely close.

That was an excellent meal. I think the quick drop-in in midst of so many flights took its toll on me and my appetite was not as big as usual, which is why I thought this was heavier than usual. Strong as always, I noticed Chef is pushing the flavours even more than before. Many times it was at the utter limit, such as for the gulyas. It was intense without damaging the crab and cheeks. For me, a person who is more into pure tastes, sometimes it feels every dish is challenging my palate to its very limits, though not breaking it. It’s definitely an excellent thing, but I think my body was just too exhausted from travels. And to think I have about 2 more weeks of it to go…

I had a long good chat with Chef after the dinner going over a lot of things and I’m glad things are going so well for him and the restaurant! They certainly deserve a second Michelin star by the next guide, and I would not be surprised if they are one of the highest debut entry for the next 50 Best. I groan about both, but I know this place deserves to be rated alongside places like Maaemo (where I have eaten several times even before their 3rd Michelin star), Hedone (where I had lunch the day before), 11 Madison Park (where I have eaten way too many times in the past) and so forth. This guy is about to become a superstar.

Seriously, this place is worth a trip to Warsaw just for dinner. And it keeps evolving and growing. If you want a true challenge of your tastebuds, this is the place to go. It’s like Hedone on acid.

Senses
Bielańska 12
Warszawa, Polska

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4 thoughts on “Review #3: Senses

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