Last weekend I came to Warsaw for a short trip. I have a lot of memories connected with this city as I finished my high school and graduated from the university there. The first thing to do is of course meeting up with my family for a Sunday brunch. From all the hot spots that have recently appeared on the culinary map of Warsaw, I have chosen Charlotte.
Aleja Wyzwolenia 18, 00-570 Warsaw (Zbawiciela Square); Grzybowski Square 2, 00-109 Warsaw
60 PLN (breakfast for two)
Monday-Thursday 7AM-12AM, Friday 7AM-1AM, Saturday 9AM-1AM, Sunday 9AM-10PM* (12AM in summer season)
Charlotte is probably the most visited cafe in Warsaw. It is centrally located, within an easy reach from the underground stop ‘Politechnika’, Warsaw University of Technology and Royal Baths Park. Sitting outside, you can admire the nice view at Zbawiciela Square, originally designed as a part of the royal gardens, commissioned by the last King of Poland, Poniatowski, well-known for riding his horse naked throughout the streets of Warsaw – yes it’s not a joke!
A few years ago, anyone visiting Zbawiciela Square could enjoy a view at a beautiful giant rainbow, made of artificial flowers. First exposed in front of the European Parliament in Brussels in 2011, it quickly became a tourist attraction and the symbol of tolerance and open-mindedness of Warsaw’s new generation. Rainbow became a target of vandalism and had been set on fire 7 times, mostly during Polish Independence Day Celebration. The truth behind the while issue is that the Rainbow was placed close to the church therefore ultra-conservative and far-right nationalists immediately identified it as a symbol of LGBT movement, which of course they couldn’t tolerate. After each arson, president of Warsaw declared that “we will rebuild the rainbow as many times as necessary.” Unfortunately, it started to get really really expensive thus she had to give up and Rainbow was permanently removed from Zbawiciela Square in August 2015.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the place itself. It opened in 2011 for the first time and paved the way for many other places, somehow inspired by this French bistro. Well-known for its simple design, with a big table in the centre, where strangers are supposed to gather and eat breakfast at anytime of the day – now all this is pretty much a standard, but back then, the whole idea was somehow unparalleled to anything existing on the Polish market.
VIBE URBAN BUZZ. The bistro is houseed in an old tenement, ringed by arcades, where you can have a seat during the warm summer days. Interior design of Charlotte is a typical Western-European style, very simple, clean and stern. There is row of dark-wooden tables and a solid counter- typical for french boulangeries. There is a big oven, where all the Charlotte’s tasty & crunchy bread is baked. Nevertheless, you may have no chance to even see it as Charlotte is always so crowded with hungry hipsters getting their freshly baked, crispy baguettes.
ORGASM ON A PLATE, literally! I tried, I really really tried to find something that wasn’t tasty enough. Together with my mom and sister, we tried the half of Charlotte’s menu and went for items I don’t usually take (with that being said, I mean something that isn’t goat cheese :)) You know what? It’s like a mission impossible! All they have, it’s just way too good! Tartines (slices of bread topped with roast turkey and cranberry sauce or roast beef with mayo and corn salad, among others) are just a brilliant idea especially if you aren’t extremely hungry. If you are really starving, better order a French traditional baked sandwiches: Croque Monsieur (with ham, cheese & bechamel sauce) or Croque Madame (its version with an egg on the top, my mom’s fav).
Charlotte’s sandwiches: Dinde Mayo and Croque Mounsier
Charlotte’s sandwich Croque Madame
Charlotte’s almond croissants and salads – goat cheese and tuna & egg
Still hungry? Well, if you’re me, for sure you are. Then, how about a white chocolate cheesecake or a inconspicuous lemon tart? Gotta say, the last one will steal your heart and make you come back to Charlotte sooner than you think. It’s a perfect combination of sweet & sour and if you’re not gonna fall for it, then man, something must be wrong with you! 🙂
Charlotte’s French toasts
What’s really cool about Charlotte is that you can ALWAYS have a breakfast here, regardless time of the day! You can easily sleep off the busy week at work or Saturday night party and still get your breakfast at 4pm. Try an amazing Pain Perdu – a sweet toast soaked in orange juice, always delicious croissant with raspberry filling or my beloved croissant with almonds! I could totally become an expert in that field 🙂
You can also go for my personal definition of so called ‘breakfast of champions’ – a Charlotte’s bread basket accompanied with a beautifully looking jar of homemade conserves (raspberry, my dearest one!) or Charlotte’s white or milk chocolate spreads. Admittedly, you can be served with only two of these delicacies but if you take a friend with you, you’ll be able to enjoy all the Charlotte’s flavours at once. Not to mention, these jars are just begging for a nice picture you later upload on your Instagram 🙂
Basket of Charlotte’s freshly baked bread
Charlotte is never empty. Charlotte is never quiet. It’s crowded and it’s loud. Yeah, sometimes you have to actually raise your voice so the person sitting next to you can hear you. It might be difficult to work there, especially if you look for a noiseless corner. It may also happen that you won’t get a free table immediately but you shouldn’t wait too long though too, as there are really many people coming in & out. You may run across some polish ‘celebrities’ who just dropped in for a quick cup of coffee. Among others, Marcin Tyszka, a well known fashion photographer, and Robert Kupisz, a hairstylist and fashion designer are Charlotte’s big fans.
An eternal weakness of Charlotte was the service – slow, often unpleasant, careless and sometimes really really rude. Boulangerie received many negative comments on their personnel and I gotta say I also complained on that. Come on guys, we are not in Paris to be that arrogant 🙂 That’s why I was a little sceptic about coming back to Charlotte after a long break. But you know what? With cafes it’s much like with people – sometimes you just should give them a second chance. I must admit, I was positively supprised.
Waitresses were just delightful! They greeted us with a beaming smile at the moment we entered. And this was not one of these fake smiles that staff puts on their faces when they have to deal with the customers and in fact you know they just hate their job. Being so courteous and taking our orders again and again, the waitress made our brunch at Charlotte even more loveable. When you are lucky enough to be served this way, it’s truly a pleasure to leave a big tip. While sitting comfortably in your chair, drinking a nice coffee and enjoying delicious pastries, you may forget that the time still goes on…
How to get there…
What endless explorers think about this spot…
Definitely one of my fav places for Warsaw you step in each time of the day. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, afternoon coffee and glass of French wine in the evening. And what’s foremost for me, they bake the best almond croissants town! Look forward to my next visit!