A relic from the Soviet era, the Czerwony Wieprz sits nestled amongst utilitarian concrete block housing in the heart of Warsaw. Fitting, given this restaurant is a former favourite haunt of ‘Soviet Royalty’ Vladimir Lenin.
My fiancée and I discovered this wonderful restaurant purely by chance as we walked on a journey of discovery around this wonderful city of contrasts.
You would be forgiven for missing it, despite the direction signs on nearby streets (which aren’t very good). It sits in a residential area, where city centre meets the Wola district. The district that was home to Warsaws’ factories and breweries, home to the proletariat. A couple of Soviet era cars parked outside give clues as to what lies inside.
The Czerwony Wieprz actually translates correctly as The Inn Under the Red Boar, or The Red Boar, but it is also known as The Red Pig. The name is derived from the Inn situated here from the 19th Century until WW2.
We stopped by for lunch. The place seemed popular without feeling busy. It has a warm, cosy, quirky vibe and the staff immediately made us feel very welcome – they were attentive throughout our dining experience. It has a very rustic feel, with big chunky wooden furniture, which has obviously been designed to last rather than for comfort, with wood panel walls adorned with communist imagery.
We didn’t notice anyone else speaking English, it seemed to be predominantly locals eating here. Ironically, one large table was seemingly a business lunch.
At the table beside ours two elderly gentleman, to whom communism is a memory rather than a history lesson, ate and had a beer. I found myself wondering if they were old party members, whether they had been regulars here in the good old days and what they make of the new Warsaw, which appears to glorify bourgeois greed.
The menu is where it gets interesting. It gives a reasonably detailed history of the place. It was apparently favourite meeting place for the communists, including Vladimir Lenin, in the pre-revolutionary days. We found ourselves wondering what had been discussed and planned here and just what significance this place holds.
During the Cold War communist world leaders are said to have dined here, including Fidel Castro and Mao Tse Tung.
The menu provides two dining options; proletariat and bourgeoise. The proletariat options are as you might imagine a rather simple affair, while the bourgeois options are a little more opulent but by no means fancy. The menu has been designed to include favourites of the communist elite along with the food of the working class.
Options include favourite traditional dishes from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the USSR.
I can thoroughly recommend Lenin’s Lamb, the recipe for it comes from the Gut-Mostowy family of Poronin, who owned a Tavern that Lenin frequently dined in around 1913-14. Apparently it was one of his favourites and I could taste why.
It was the best meal I had in the whole of Poland.
It’s no wonder that this is an award winning restaurant, one that can count the likes of Bruce Willis amongst its satisfied customers.
Themed restaurants can often feel false, like they’re trying to be something they’re not. Like Irish bars full of Guinness adverts, Austrlian Walkabouts selling Kangaroo burgers, that sort of thing.
I really didn’t feel the same applied to Czerwony Wieprz. While there is bound to be some creativity it manages to feel wholly authentic.
Should I ever return to Poland, to wonderful Warsaw, Czerwony Wieprz is definitely a place I’d return to.