Explanations of the terms used in the text are at the end of the article.
The cuisine of contrasts
Łódź is called the city of contrasts. The cuisine of Łódź is also contrasting - on the one hand, simple dishes based on cheap and easily available products that the workers could afford, on the other hand, the sophisticated cuisine of the elite manufacturers and Lodzermensches.
The first category includes the most popular soup in Łódź, i.e. zalewajka (rye leaven soup with potatoes, onions and spices), iron potato dumplings, prażoki (mashed potatoes steamed with flour, served with cracklings) with sauerkraut or salted herring. Besides, the latter product is probably the source of the popular name of the Staromiejski Park, which is commonly called the Herring Park (Park Śledzia). This intriguing name comes from the fish market that was located there before World War II.
However the dishes eaten by 19th-century Łódź industrialists were largely based on veal, mutton, beef and pork meat that was hard to get for workers. Hence the typical dishes for Łódź, such as: veal in dough or beef roulades with dumplings. Łódź cuisine also owes its specificity to cultural influences. It is therefore a reference to the cuisine of four cultures: Polish, German, Russian and Jewish.
Where to try local specialties today?
Contemporary local and regional cuisine in Łódź, Poland is usually a combination of modernity and tradition, allowing you to try local cuisine in a new, fresh edition. Below are our suggestions of places where you can try what Łódź tastes like.
1. Piwnica Łódzka Restaurant, 67 Sienkiewicza Street
Located in the basement of a typical large tenement house in Łódź, the restaurant offers local cuisine with a modern twist. You will try here, for example:
- traditional Łódź zalewajka
- czernina - blood soup with noodles (broth based on duck meat with the addition of blood and flour),
- knedle dumplings with plums, slowly stewed beef and sweet cabbage,
- knedle dumplings with strawberries and cream,
- local beers.
2. Quale Restaurant, 48 Narutowicza Street
Fine dining based on the influence of local and regional cuisine. An extremely comfortable and sophisticated restaurant located in the historic, neo-renaissance villa of Gustaw Schreer. Even the most demanding palate will be delighted with the local dishes, including:
- zalewajka with homemade white sausage, potatoes & oyster mushrooms,
- beef sirloin tartare, cucumber, shallots & mushrooms,
- selection of Polish cheeses and aged cold cuts,
- halva cheesecake, homemade sesame & mead sauce.
3. Imber Restaurant, 43 Piotrkowska Street
A restaurant based on the influences of the cuisine of Łódź Jews. Anyway, the place obliges, because the premises is located in an outbuilding of a beautiful, Art Nouveau tenement house that once belonged to a Jewish manufacturer, Oskar Kon. The restaurant's menu includes:
- Jewish-style herring tartare,
- zalewajka with mutton sausage and venision,
- mutton broth with roasted vegetables,
- pierogi dumplings with mutton,
- shakshouka with challah,
- Paschal cheesecake made of bryndza.
4. Stare Kino Cinema Residence Restaurant, 120 Piotrkowska Street
Stare Kino (The Old Cinema) is a unique aparthotel in the heart of Łódź, just off Piotrkowska Street. It is located in a house in which the first permanent cinema in Poland, called the Cabinet of Illusions, was established in 1899. The restaurant in Stare Kino offers, among others:
- Łódź-Jewish-style herring - with raisins and nuts,
- smoked herring from Łódź - sour cream, apple, celery,
- Łódź-style herring in oil - green pepper, onion, parsley,
- mackerel paste with onion, egg, coriander,
- drygle - pork jelly,
- Łódź-style pear soup,
- zalewajka with sausage, bacon and potatoes.
5. Stary Rynek 2 Restaurant, 2 Stary Rynek Square
An atmospheric restaurant referring in style to the multicultural tradition of Łódź and the interwar style of Polish cuisine. Located in the oldest part of the city, right next to the Old Market (Stary Rynek) Square. The menu is based on seasonal products, so it changes with the season. Among the offers include:
- pickled herring with homemade creme fraiche, apple, and potatoes from the fire,
- buckwheat "tartuchy" (cutlets), creamy sauce with amber cheese and young vegetables.
6. "U Kretschmera" Restaurant, 64 Kopernika Street
Former Karol Kretschmer textile factory, and from 1925 a tobacco and cigarette factory. Currently, the former factory spaces house the Tobaco complex, including the Tobaco Hotel and "U Kretschmera Restaurant. It is a cozy restaurant that will take you on a culinary journey through Łódź in the times of the "Promised Land". You will try here, among others:
- zalewajka with buttermilk, bacon chips, fried egg, chanterelles, fresh marjoram,
- pork chop on the bone, fried cabbage, and mashed potatoes.
7. Piwoteka Narodowa Pub, 4 6.Sierpnia Street
Not only food proves the uniqueness of local cuisine. Drinks, including alcoholic drinks, are also an important part. Piwoteka Narodowa pub is a unique place with history. One of the first beer multi-taps in Poland. Excellent, craft and regional beer is served here, and the beer drinking culture is promoted. The names of the beers on offer often refer to Łódź places, attractions, symbols and legends.
Explanations of some terms: Angielka - a long, thin wheat roll, otherwise known as a Parisian roll
Bryndza - a soft rennet cheese made of sheep's milk
Chałka (challah) - fluffy yeast bread in the form of a braid
Czernina - broth based on duck meat with duck's blood and flour
Drygle, ("zimne nóżki" - lit. "cold feet") - pork jelly with meat and vegetables, served with lemon and vinegar
Knedle - a flour or potato dish (dumplings), dough balls stuffed with meat or fruit
Lodzermensch - a wealthy representative of the 19th century factory elite in Łódź
Pierogi - dumplings, pieces of thin, flexible and well-sticking dough filled with a variety of stuffing and then boiled, fried or baked
Prażoki - mashed potatoes steamed with flour, sprinkled with onion and cracklings
Tartuchy - buckwheat cutlets or dumplings
Zalewajka - rye leaven soup with potatoes, onions and spices
Żulik - a kind of dark, sweet bread with raisins More about Łódź cuisine can be found in the book (in English): Wojciechowska Anna, "Fifka i żulik. Homemade recipes from Łódź", publisher: Center for Initiatives for Development REGIO.