Pod Baranem is placed in the top 20 of 1100 restaurants in Krakow on TripAdvisor but for gluten free eaters it must surely be 1st. Why? It provides a wonderful example of great gluten free food simply being great food which also happens to be gluten free with equal emphasis on both great and gluten free.
A measure of its greatness is that despite my desire to explore as many eateries in Krakow as possible I dined there two nights in a row on a recent trip.
I also ordered two of the same dishes two nights in a row, they were just *so* great.
Venue and Menu
Scroll down for a google map – Pod Baranem is located on the outskirts of the lovely ring of parkland that envelopes the lively Krakow city centre. The location is very quiet but also very easy to reach and is within walking distance of most hotels located around the centre. Inside the decor is certainly formal, lots of polished wood and leather. However the interior layout is such that most tables have relative privacy or at least relative quiet, supporting table conversation that does not need to compete with other diners as is true for so many restaurants with more open plan layouts. I found the furnishings comfortable and the ambiance relaxing.
The gluten free menu is among the most extensive I have seen at any restaurant in the world including entirely gluten free venues! It includes 5 dessert options of which none are fruit (Yay!) and none are sorbet (YAY!). Better still though is that the cuisine, described as “Polish with a touch of European”, is diverse enough to offer choice for most diners including several options that are both vegetarian and gluten free. If you do want to eat the very traditionally Polish dumplings, this is as far as I know the only place they are served gluten free in all of Krakow.
It is advisable to make a reservation rather than simply turn up as the restaurant is deservedly popular.
The gluten free food is with one exception – bread – prepared in their own kitchen using separate surfaces and equipment to that used for foods containing gluten. For the few fried foods on the menu, including fries and potatoes as sides, there is a small separate fryer dedicated to gluten free frying. I conducted my usual due diligence prior to eating here and felt safe and entirely free to revel in the choice and the sensory delight of the food itself.
Ogle the gluten free menu here http://podbaranem.com/en/menu6.php
Two of the three courses I tried would rate as the most pleasurable food I have eaten in recent memory. An intriguing and wonderful olive, honey and mustard dressing accompanied my plate of Marinated Salmon. The salmon was soft, succulent, fresh and melt in the mouth silky with just the right hint of marinade, complimenting but not overwhelming the flavor of the salmon itself.
Surpassing this however was a Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Porcini Mushrooms dish with a light savoury cheesy sauce. A key part of the success of this dish was the contrasting and compelling mouthfeel achieved by the combination of chopped, sliced and diced mushrooms. I feel regret that I know of no restaurant in my hometown of London serving anything similar and may simply have to try recreating this at home . . . or visiting Krakow to eat it again. How good? Well I actually ordered this dish two days running and would gladly have done so a third time had I returned to Pod Baranem again.
Merely ‘great’ rather than outstanding was my lovely Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Salad featuring plumb, juicy semi-dried tomatoes , crisp leaves and mild, creamy mozzarella. The accompanying herb dressing was pleasingly zingy but I found that eating the lettuce leaves plain served as a wonderful palette cleanser between bits of the tomato and mozzarella.
More? Okay. Great brownies? Difficult not to trip over them. Nice Ice Cream? Everywhere. Well made pie? Not *too* difficult to find. Fantastic cake? Fantastic gluten free cake? Ooh, now that is something to note.
It it challenging to make a *really* great cake.
The Pod Baranem Layer Cake could perhaps be a ‘signature’ dish. It was far and away the most delicious dessert I have eaten this year. Each spoonful of the two layers of light, fluffy sponge cake and rich, indulgent cream delivered an amazing combination of taste and tantalising texture. It was like eating a trifle shaped like a cake. So moist and velvety. The flavor compelled me to very slowly savour every mouthful and focus my entire attention on the sensory pleasure.
By contrast their Cheesecake is puzzling. It is a form of sponge cake and very much unlike any cheesecake I have eaten before. I found it to be a dry, bland sponge cake. During my second meal I overheard a nearby couple giving feedback on the very same cake, describing it as “not anything like a cheesecake”. My suggestion is to pick the Layer Cake or the Raspberry Cake. Or the Layer Cake and the Layer Cake.
Let google show you where to find the Layer Cake :-)