All reader reviews by Steve

The Knaypa Restaurant

I booked over the phone for the downstairs seating area a few hours before our arrival on the Saturday evening.

Parking is a bit scarce on Kings Street, but there is usually an available space on a side street and there are no parking restrictions on a weekend.

On entering Knaypa, we are shown to a table in the center of the room; the furniture is dark, solid varnished wood. It's very substantial construction and would take the biceps of a burly Polish builder to move it. The room is decorated in warm colours, but there is not much in the way of Polish paraphernalia as one otherwise might expect in a rustic-themed setting. We're a bit overlooked in the center of the room, so a quick word with the waiter and we swap for a more private table.

We order a couple of glasses of wine from the list and my wife chooses traditional barszcz soup starter to be followed with a medium cooked steak with peppercorn sauce. I go for the prawns and the chef's chicken cutlet.

The garlic prawns arrive arranged on a small mound of rice with dill; ah, so this is the Polish influence then, since dill is ubiquitous in their cuisine. The prwans' center shell section is thoughtfully removed making for easy access with a knife and fork, which is handy since there is no finger bowl. Now I do confess to preferring my garlic prawns flavoured with chilli, but I suppose chilli's are not associated with east european food (although neither are prawns, come to think of it).

But there is a problem. Where is Iwona's soup that she ordered?

We get the attention of the waiter who is friendly and apologetic and he explains he didn't hear her order it. Anyway, he goes away and orders the soup from the kitchen.

Once the soup arrives, I've already finished my starter with some eager help from my hungry wife. We aquire another spoon and both of us dive into the barszcz.

If you've not tried barszcz and you like spicey soups then I'd recommend giving this a try. A good example of this dish has plenty of marjoram and either pasta, boiled egg or potato croquette with/in it. This one had veal pasta in it and had the distinctive sweet and spicey taste.

When the main courses eventually arrived, we discovered some more problems. Iwona's steak was overcooked and she was supplied with chips instead of potato puree. The dish is sent back to the kitchen and once again I'm eating on my own.

The kotlet is a piece of chicken breast flattened, covered with cheese and rolled in breadcrumbs. It's cut at an angle along the center with the hot cheese oozing out and is nicely presented on pureed potato with a sauce reduction drizzled around the plate. There is also an excellent side of creamed spinach, chopped and very creamy with a strong hint of nutmeg.

Once again my plate is almost finished by the time the steak reappears, this time correctly cooked and with a liberal sprinkling of green peppercorns. Now this time Iwona is eating and I'm the observer, so I order in a slice of baked cheesecake that arrives promptly. A fruit sauce drizzled on the plate with a few scattered blueberries and a physallis on top, dusted with some icing sugar, makes for a pleasant dessert.

Overall we enjoyed the food, which was simple and well presented. It is like a restaurant-grade version of the food that you would be offered in someones home in Poland, with some nice twists. The menu had a good selection of both Polish and european food. We were just a bit unlucky with the service this time since other tables didn't appear to have any problems. Also, they swiped 10% off the bill and the staff were all friendly and helpful. Atmosphere was good, I like the fact that one can choose between the chic upstairs or rustic downstairs. The restaurant was busy when we left. Value was very reasonable for the quality of the food compared to equivalent places around town.

A delightful little restaurant in Hammersmith that we can recommend, and we look forward to sampling more food there.

Sunday, March 09, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

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