Restaurant Spotlight: Villa Eva

Hidden gem on the Baltic serves seasonal, upscale riffs on traditional Polish cuisine

Restaurant Spotlight: Villa Eva
At Villa Eva, diners can enjoy local specialties, the Günter Grass’s Pantry” menu or the restaurant’s traditional coffee in the secluded garden. (Courtesy of Villa Eva)
May 19, 2022

Warsaw and Kraków dominate most trips to Poland, but Gdańsk, a historic port city on the Baltic Sea, is well worth visiting. If you’re there, don’t miss Villa Eva, a 14-room hotel, restaurant and wine bar in the city’s hip, pre-war Wrzeszcz neighborhood, close to the Old Town and numerous parks. Villa Eva has been run by mother and daughter Ewa and Wiktoria Kulczycka for 23 years, though their family’s gastronomic history stretches back to 1683, when they say their ancestor Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki opened the first coffee shop in Europe, in Vienna. Today, they still serve coffee the way he did, with milk, honey and a crescent-shaped cake.

Villa Eva, which won its first Award of Excellence in 2021, has over the past year expanded its offerings to more than 200 wine selections and 18 wines by the glass (poured with a Coravin). There’s impressive depth in France, Italy, Spain and the New World, with a good range of sparkling and sweet wines. The adventurous wine drinker will be pleased with offerings from Poland, Hungary, Greece, Israel and Lebanon.

 Modern, large, showpiece wine cellar at Villa Eva
Wine lovers can choose from well-known regions or explore less familiar options in Villa Eva's cellar. (Courtesy of Villa Eva)

Chef Ewa Grabarek’s menu features modern takes on Polish staples, with a special emphasis on dishes native to Gdańsk and the surrounding Pomeranian region. The restaurant is “entirely devoted to Pomeranian region produce,” and that commitment to local, fresh ingredients shines in dishes such as crayfish with caviar and crème fraîche, venison dumplings, pike-perch steak and confit duck leg with potato dumplings and red cabbage. Other menu highlights include Matjes herring in roasted potato, beef sirloin tartare and Kolduny (local dumplings) in broth or borscht—and for dessert, spiced pear with marzipan and chocolate fondant with cherries. A chef’s tasting menu is also available.

If you’re in a literary mood, try the “Günter Grass’s Pantry” menu, which features dishes taken from books by the Nobel Prize winner and Gdańsk native. Start with a slice of bread with lard and finger-thick black pudding or smoked swede (rutabaga) soup with goose. Then, choose between Atlantic cod with sauerkraut and swine sausage with beans and tomatoes. Finish with bitter-sweet crumpets and a Kulczycki coffee in Villa Eva’s secluded flower garden, preferably while savoring one of the books that inspired the meal.

Villa Eva is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and reservations are recommended.

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