Tiny plastic flowers brighten up a dozen square tables. The chairs, if not comfortable, are at least functional. A large board near the entrance displays the menu of the day. We can glimpse the kitchen through an opening in the wall behind the counter. The kitchen staff have been busy since early morning, preparing zupy (soups of the day), kasza gryczana (buckwheat porridge) and bigos (a stew made with sauerkraut, meat and sausages), while also keeping an eye on the scrambled eggs for the first customers. The waitress’s voice echoes around the room: “Jajecznica!” (Who ordered scrambled eggs?)
We are in a bar mleczny, literally a ‘milk bar’. This Polish specificity combines traditional food with fast service. Whether families, hard-up students or the well-off, everyone comes here to eat at unbeatable prices. A coffee costs 2.10 złotys1, the carrot salad 1.90 złotys and a plate of pierogi ruskie (a type of ravioli stuffed with potato and quark) is 6.25 złotys. Everything is handmade, using fresh ingredients and based on traditional recipes. For around 8 złotys, you can get a full meal (starter and main course), which would cost three times as much in a restaurant.