Tel: +44 (0)20 7794 4792
Address: 85 Fleet Road, Hampstead NW3 2QY
Cuisine Type: Polish
nearest tube station Belsize Park

Around the corner from the Royal Free Hospital you’ll find, if you look very closely, a wonderfully authentic, warmly lit Polish restaurant and vodka bar, serving more than 35 types of chilled vodka shots. It’s the kind of place you serendipitously stumble onto – and chances are you will also stumble out.

Zamoyski, a family run establishment, offers a sumptuous selection of hearty Polish starters, main courses and desserts as part of their changing, seasonal menu. But be warned: aside from soup, you won’t find many light dishes here. Starters (£3.90 – £4.95) include trota wedzony, smoked trout fillet with mustard and honey relish and klops, homemade meatloaf with a dill and horseradish sauce. You can choose from several fish, poultry and meat main dishes (£7.95 – £11.50), such as kaczka z jablkami, caraway and paprika infused duck served on the bone, placki po wegiersku, lamb goulash served with a potato latke and sour cream orkulebiak z loasosiem, wild salmon in puff pastry filled with rice and wild mushrooms.

To get a well-rounded taste of Polish cuisine, the nine-course sampling menu at £9.95 is highly recommended for its tastiness, ease and unbeatable value. The sweet beetroot soup is absolutely lovely, the potato onion pancake with smoked salmon and sour cream deeply satisfying and the smoked Baltic sprats divine. Not to worry about pronouncing your dinner selection – the wait staff is attentive and accommodating, making you feel completely at home.

Naturally, vodka (all £2.20 per shot; £1.80 during happy hour, 5.30-7.00pm) complements the menu very well by contrasting the heaviness of the food with its coolness – poured straight from the freezer. Vodka flavours range from garlic to almond to rose petal, and several are concocted on site. We tried pomegranate and black currant (crisp and sweet), bison grass (quite herby), egg (which is more like egg nog – yum) and chocolate (like a Hershey’s shot). You really can’t go wrong here – all depends what you have a taste for. Again, the staff is happy to help you choose your poison. Wine and beer are also available.

If you have room, for dessert (all £3.25) choose from indulgences like apple bliny pancake with summer fruit compote, sour cream and icing sugar or crepe filled with curd cheese and lemon. Or, continue your vodka exploration…

Zamoyski has been serving Polish fare for more than two decades – a testament to their winning combination of good ethnic comfort food, very reasonable prices and warm service. I will definitely revisit on a cool evening to warm up, and if it’s a Saturday, enjoy some live music.

– Sue Couter, 8/2003