For ten years now the idea of slow food has reigned supreme in The Romantyczna Restaurant at the Dr Irena Eris Wzgórza Dylewskie Spa Hotel. The harmony of natural tastes is masterfully brought out by the restaurant’s chef Łukasz Wojtas.
Chef at the Romantyczna Restaurant in the Dr Irena Eris Wzgórza Dylewskie SPA Hotel, finds inspiration in traditional Polish cuisine combined with French influences. Happily reaches for innovative culinary techniques, and is not afraid to experiment. He runs the Romantyczna Restaurant recommended by Slow Food Polska.
When did your start cooking? Who had the greatest impact on your current doings?
Before I started to cook professionally, when I was 8, my mom had taught me to make tomato soup based on chicken broth. Later, at my grandmother’s, who lived in the heart of Tuchola Pinewoods, I tasted duck from household breeding traditionally baked in a wood-fired oven. The taste has stayed in my memory for a long time and I’m still trying to re-create it.
You are a chef at a restaurant recommended by Slow Food Polska. You’ve participated in its development, and now you’re creating menu based on an original concept. What do you like the most about the slow food idea?
Being open to local producers and breeders, reaching for what is made closest to us—which is a form of symbiosis with the environment. I don’t buy anything before I visit the farm and talk to the owner first. It makes it easier for me to create new flavors, and also I can tell our guest about the origin of each product. I keep discovering here a multitude of new, valuable, ecological and local products. I’m impressed with how much our Warmińsko-Mazurski region has to offer. Wherever I go I meet interesting and humble people who run their farms. There’s nothing better than seeing happy goats jumping around the farm, whose milk is used to make fantastic cheese that ends up in our kitchen. Such meetings help to build great relationships between the producer and the chef.
What do you do first when you compose your dishes?
Fresh and high quality product is my starting point. Then, choosing an appropriate technique to bring out its best qualities in terms of taste. I try not to overdo it with processing and seasoning. I focus on the harmony of natural and authentic flavors. The form of each meal is really important to me. An interesting trend is deconstruction, and also serving one product in many different ways. One of the desserts in our menu is e.g. apple pie. Sounds rather cliché, doesn’t it? But on the plate it looks completely different—innovatively and surprising. Another example is sturgeon served with beet in five forms which I prepared for dinner celebrating the 10 years of our recommendation by Slow Food Polska. Each form of the beat had a different texture—ice-cream, crunchy meringue, thick and reduced sauce, dried slice or powder—which, when combined with the sturgeon, resulted in a very tasty combination.
Do the guests visiting the restaurant know what are they coming here for? Are they surprised by anything?
Some of our guests want to try something new, others are curious where do we get our products from, while some just want to eat a tastily cooked dish. We meet everyone’s expectations. Every day, we make fresh bread, churn butter, and make tasty quark and goose lard. We always serve a starter to stimulate appetite, and even if you don’t order dessert, you won’t leave without something sweet—we’re always prepared to get you a mini dessert to say goodbye.I like talking to our guests. Sometimes they seem surprised—e.g. recently we have started serving seasoned steak made from ecologic beef, which is always presented to the guest before it’s fried. People appreciate this. Also, unusual flavor combinations are surprising—for instance desserts based on milk in three forms—ice-cream made of buttermilk and sour milk, with milk crumble served with fresh fruit and rocket salad leaves. Cuisine doesn’t always have to be obvious, but it must be distinctive, thought-through and bursting with flavor.
Why is it worth to visit places like Romantyczna?
For the fantastic quality of products and slow moments spent with amazing food. We make sure not only to serve the meal in a beautiful and tasty form, but also to create an unforgettable aura during your stay here. We recommend to try our food accompanied by exquisite wines selected to emphasize its taste. For the culinary experiences we invite not only the hotel guests, but also outside persons wanting to taste something new, and most importantly something healthy, ecological and local. Great moments will be ensured by unique atmosphere and helpful staff, but mostly cuisine, the flavors of which will linger in your memory for long.
200 g smoked goat cheese
6 quail eggs
Couple of fresh strawberries
100 g white asparagus
Half a lemon
Half an orange
40 g butter
4 egg yolks
60 g sugar
250 g 30% cream
10 g gelatin flakes
60 g pear liquor
Bring the cream to a boil. In a metal bowl, mix egg yolks with sugar and scald with boiled cream. Heat in a water bath to 82 degrees and let it cool. Soak the gelatin in cold water, leave for approx. 10 minutes and melt in the microwave with a little milk. Pour cooled sauce, melted gelatin and pear liquor to a siphon. Tighten firmly and charge the siphon with two CO2 bulbs. Sauce may be refrigerated for approx. four days.
Crack the eggs into an oiled bowl and cook over steam until just the egg whites are set. Sprinkle with salt. Cut the goat cheese into pieces and heat up in 160 degrees until it softens. Lay the accurately peeled asparagus spears in the pan. Add water 1 cm above the spears. Add pealed lemon, orange, salt, pepper and butter. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and boil over high heat until the foil rises. Then take it off the heat for 15 minutes, remove the foil and allow to cool. Serve the cheese on top of zabaione poured onto the plate with fresh strawberries, cooked asparagus and quail eggs on the side.