It isn’t everyday yours truly feels like popping down to the capital (too crowded for me), but the weather was mild and the tickets cheap, so off I went.
A few hours of walking around the city with a gaggle of tourists later, a man gets tired and needed nourishment. It was to decide on where to get this nourishment that I sat down with my friend and opened up the handy new restaurant guide Streetwise launched recently.
I kid you not. I am quite (okay, very) indecisive about where I want to eat (to the point of getting into a row with my travel companion).
But a decision has been made, and it was Tahina, a new Middle Eastern restaurant that had opened up a few months ago in Wilcza 26.
It looked a good enough place, with outdoor seating, canopies and the whole lot. It was, however, getting a little chilly so we decided to head indoors and was met with a heady rush of colors from the food.
A little trick I’ve learned over my years of indecisive eating is to ask the owner or the servers for their most popular dish, to ensure I don’t get disappointed. It’s a strategy that has not failed me yet.
That is how I got talking with Ouce, the chef and inventor of the dishes I was about to eat. He, having arrived from Iraq to Poland co-owns Tahina with his wife Marta, who helps with the cooking when she’s not too busy managing the restaurants marketing and operations.
The passion this duo had for their food was apparent in the manner they gushed about their humble beginnings selling falafel sandwiches on the banks of the Vistula to finally opening Tahina. It was during this chat that I requested for their recommendations from the menu, to which Ouce replied with some questions of his own on my food and condiment preferences.
A couple of questions later the couple nodded, with Marta going behind the counter to prepare the food while Ouce began work on the cup of coffee I requested.
This coffee was strong and spicy on the throat, which in my opinion makes it a winner as I’m not a fan of guzzling down copious amounts of coffee to get my dose of caffeine. This taste and strength of the coffee Ouce explained was as it was slow boiled by the heat that is transferred through the sand that surround it. It was while sipping this shot of molten hot coffee that Marta appeared with our food, to the delight of my ravenous stomach.
The first thing I noticed about the food that came to me was its vibrant colors. It looked very…fresh. Yes, there is no other word to describe it as the hues of green, orange and red made me feel like the food I was about to dig into was as fresh as it could be and had not been lying in a freezer for months.
But enough pitter patter. Allow me to tell you about the food.
The dish closest to me Ouce explained, is beef that has been slow cooked for 36 hours straight. The beef I found was tender, but not too tender as it needed a good amount of munching to release the spices it was cooked in. Adorning this beef was fresh pickles, tomatoes, olives and some homemade condiment which I could not quite identify due to its ever-changing taste with every bite. It was delicious.
The dish recommended for my friend Marta explained was a falafel one, made of chickpeas and Arabic spices (Ouce’s secret). I snuck a bite from the falafel and found it warm, not too dry and very good. This dish as with mine also had plenty of pickles, olives, greens and other condiments that made tucking into it pretty great.
A mention must also be given to the chocolate hummus Ouce let me try since he was on the lookout for opinions on his latest creation. Let me just say that it was so good that I gobbled it all before remembering to take a photo…
So, the question is, will I go there again?
There aren’t many Mediterranean restaurants I have come across that offer what Tahina offers. The food is diverse, fresh and tasty. The prices are affordable as the whole meal came close to 70 PLN with beverages. Ouce’s and Marta’s pride and enthusiasm for their food is also obvious and made dining at Tahina a pleasure. To my Warsaw peeps- give it a go!