Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ariel

The restaurant, cafe and gallery, Ariel, is located in the very center of Kazimierz, a Jewish quarter of Krakow that is vibrant with life. The name "Ariel" originates in Old Testament.  He is one of four archangels, who appeared on earth in the form of a lion devouring in flames as offerings were put on a temple altar.  He is also known as "Uriel", which translated from Old Hebrew stands for "the Light of God".

The Kazimierz neighborhood was a short 5 minute walk from our hotel and lined with cute restaurants with patios along the old cobblestone road.  We chose Ariel and sat at a table at the far corner of the patio, with a great view for people watching.  The ambience was charming, and we could hear live folk music playing at the restaurant next door.


To start, we ordered drinks.  I chose a glass of the house white wine, while Keith chose a Żywiec beer and a shot of the Polish Bison Grass vodka, known as Zubrowka.  The vodka was strong and did have a slight grass taste to it.  He later switched to a honey vodka that was recommended by our server.  It, too, was very strong and sweet.


To start, Keith ate Chopped Chicken Livers with shredded boiled eggs on top and pickled vegetables on the bottom.  The mousse was very creamy and rich, and would have been better served with bread or matzo crackers.


For his main dish, Keith ordered Rachel's Special, which was beef collar wrapped over vegetables and served with a delicate brown gravy.  He also got potato latkes on the side, which were unlike any other we've had before.  These potato cakes were like fancy knishes, with a soft mashed potato inside with shreds of potato.  Very unique and delicious.


I chose a special vegetarian version of Golombki.  These cabbage leaves were stuffed with mushrooms and barley rice, then covered with creamy mushroom sauce that tasted just like Grandma Olga's mushroom soup.  I was in heaven from the first bite.  The portion was quite generous and filling too, but I unselfishly shared some with Keith.


We were pretty full, but I overheard another table order dessert, thus thought we'd should see what they offered.  Doesn't hurt to peek, right?  The Ariel Cake stood out to me, so we decided to try it.  A chocolate sponge-cake was topped with a thick coconut cream filling and covered in chocolate ganache.  Keith is not the biggest fan of coconut, so ate mostly the cake part.  The dessert was okay, and ended up being extra unneeded calories.

Overall, we had some unique traditional Jewish fare that was high quality and memorable.  If we had more time in Krakow, I would definitely return to the Kazimierz neighborhood to see if the other restaurants are just as stellar as Ariel.

Total Rating: 4.28
Food: 4.5, Price: 4, Service: 3.5, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Golombki
cabbage leaves stuffed with mushrooms, covered with creamy mushroom sauce

Ariel Cake
chocolate sponge-cake, cream & coconut

Plus Keith ate:
Chopped Chicken Livers
with eggs and pickled vegetables

Rachel`s Special
beef collar wrapped over vegetables, served with delicate sauce

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