Since I have heard many a good thing about Warszawa and I have never had Polish food, I decided to give it a try. I went on a Wednesday night at 6pm, which is exactly when they opened. Only three tables were occupied the entire time I was there (but I was only there until 7 because I had to be somewhere). The restaurant was very quiet, so quiet I almost felt the need to whisper, which was great because my throat was sore. The wooden floor was very noisy whenever anyone walked across it.
We got complimentary bread, which was quite good--chewy, super-fresh sourdough. Too bad they served it with the same metallic-tasting minced black olive crap that Osteria Latini gives you. I hope this olive spread is not becoming a trend!
I've had very little appetite for the last month, so though there were more things I would have liked to order, I simply ordered the salad plate. I got to try six different kinds of salads:
Warszawa - a melange of shredded carrots, apples, onions, sauerkraut,
and fresh herbs, flavored with lemon, caraway, and white pepper 6
Roma tomatoes, scallions, grilled mushrooms, and Polish goat cheese in light garlic vinaigrette 6
Lemon marinated red cabbage, yellow, green, and red bell peppers
with leaks and caramelized walnuts 6
Thinly sliced cucumbers in a lemon and dill yogurt sauce 5
Celery root with scallions, walnuts and lemon 6
The Warszawa salad was definitely the best and most interesting. The others were not so exciting. One, not listed above, was something like raw cauliflower in yogurt. Eew. The roma tomatoes and goat cheese were tasty, though nothing I hadn't tasted before and couldn't very easily make at home. Same with the cucumbers in a lemon and dill yogurt sauce. The candied walnuts were astonishingly crunchy and good--I am really not fond of walnuts at all, but these were interesting. They didn't taste too much like walnuts, nor did they mush between your teeth the way plain walnuts do.
My friend had the potato, cheese, and onion pierogi. They were delightfully light and fluffy, while at the same time being filling (potatoes and cheese can do that to you). They were nothing like the pierogi sold in the freezer section of Trader Joe's. Those were also good, though quite dense and differently shaped. Warszawa's pierogi are more like ravioli; Trader Joe's version is more like dumplings. Maybe they make them both ways in Poland. Or maybe the TJ's version was a Russian variation?
Potato, cheese, and onion pierogi
The service definitely left something to be desired. It was incredibly slow, although the restaurant was almost empty and nothing major appeared to be going on. Our waitress didn't know the specials very well, and described everything as "fabulous." Our water was not refilled quickly enough. I realize that we were not exactly big spenders, but I don't care--a good restaurant should treat all of its clients well. You never know when one of them might be an aspiring restaurant critic, after all!
The atmosphere was very nice, without being oppressive or pretentious, as you can see. I rarely eat at restaurants with tablecloths and candles, and the place kind of looks like the inside of a house, though it doesn't feel too homey--you'll still feel like you're out for a nice meal.
Overall, I'd say that I had a good enough experience that I'd consider returning, but I definitely was not impressed the way I was expecting to be from the reviews I'd read. I was happy with the number of vegetarian items on the menu, though perhaps the restaurant does better on meat dishes. There are more things I'd like to try, like the Polish dessert wine, something off the dessert menu, and some other main dishes. Though I only tried two plates last night, I think I got a good taste of what Warszawa has to offer.
1414 Lincoln Blvd
Here is a link to their menu:
10% discount with KCRW card!