Artur Skotarczyk, born and raised in Poznań, has become one of the best-known names on the local gastronomy scene. He says his passion for food started in his family kitchen while observing his mother cooking and on visits to the maternal side of the family in the countryside, where there were plenty of traditional flavours to be savoured. Trained in classic French cooking, nowadays he uses his skills and knowledge at MUGA, the first and – for now – only restaurant in Poznań to hold a MICHELIN Star. Refined and elegant, his menu draws on both international and local ingredients, as well as classic cooking techniques, and the dishes find their perfect partners courtesy of savvy wine pairings. MUGA is certainly a must when in Poznań for a special culinary treat, but what else should be on your itinerary while you are visiting the capital of Greater Poland? We ask Artur Skotarczyk to share his top tips and personal recommendations.
“In my opinion, a must-try dish for anyone visiting Poznań has to be a roasted whole duck, served traditionally with pyzy (chef Skotarczyk likes to call them parowańce) – fluffy steamed yeast buns – and sautéed red cabbage. In my home, we used to have roasted duck during holidays or for family celebrations, so it is a treat for special occasions. But nowadays you can find it on restaurant menus throughout the year,” says Skotarczyk. He reckons the dish comes into its own in autumn and winter, as this is the time when ducks are in season and are at the height of their quality. “The duck should be roasted to perfection, with lovely crispy golden-brown skin and juicy, moist meat beneath. To me the roasting part is key to preparing this dish well and to its success on the table,” adds the chef.
Another dish Artur Skotarczyk considers to be emblematic of his town and Greater Poland culinary traditions is czernina (“black soup”). This soup made with duck blood and seasoned with spices and dried fruit is usually served with hand-cut pasta called łazanki. The soup has a velvety texture and distinct umami and sweet flavours. Even if the addition of the blood might not sound tempting to you, it is worth trying for its unique flavour, and has quite a lot of fans among Polish traditional cuisine connoisseurs.
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to get your hands on some rogale świętomarcińskie (“St Martin’s croissants”). “St Martin’s croissants are a true culinary symbol of Poznań,” claims Skotarczyk. “Traditionally they were baked to celebrate the feast of Saint Martin (11 November), but because they are so popular and so beloved it is easy to find them in local pastry shops at other times of year. They are made with laminated yeast dough – similar to, but slightly denser than, French pastry – and filled with a ground white poppy seed and walnut mixture,” explains our guide.
According to Artur Skotarczyk, the starchy side dishes that complement various courses play a very important role in Greater Poland’s traditional cuisine. “One of the most famous is pyzy – these steamed yeast buns I mentioned earlier are the ideal match for roasted duck or beef roulades with sauce. Similarly popular are szagówki – small dumplings made of boiled potatoes that are mashed through a sieve and mixed with flour and eggs. Their name comes from the phrase 'na szagę' which means diagonally and refers to the shape of dumplings, that are cut from long rolls into small diamond-shaped pieces. To me, szagówki come into their own when teamed with skwarki – melted pork fat with crackling and a side of sautéed sauerkraut,” he enthuses. Other popular dumplings worth exploring while in Poznań are szare kluchy (“grey dumplings”) - a bit denser and hearthier than szagówki, made of grated raw potatoes with add of flour and/or potato starch and eggs, shaped into small, a bit rough pieces and boiled in salted water. These often accompany roasted meats or are served with cracklings.
Potato is a true hero-ingredient of Greater Poland cuisine and a base for many main or side dishes. Aside of variety of dumplings, try plyndze - a local version of potato pancakes as well as pyry z gzikiem - boiled potatoes served with seasoned fresh creamed curd cheese.
The emphasis at MUGA may be on international cuisine, but chef Skotarczyk likes to incorporate traditional flavours into his menu. An example from the last menu is the sautéed red cabbage, complementing the deer main course.
Though busy in his own restaurant, our expert still likes to dine in other establishments in his hometown. “If you want to try traditional Greater Poland cuisine, the best place for it is Hyćka (hyćka is “elderflower” in the Greater Poland dialect) in the Śródka neighbourhood. At this restaurant, you can order dishes such as pyry z gzikiem (boiled potatoes with curd cheese and sour cream with chives), czernina (blood soup) or roasted duck with red cabbage,” says Skotarczyk.
On his days off, our starred chef heads to the restaurant Talerzyki, in the Jeżyce district: “a casual spot focusing on Middle Eastern cuisine, serving really nice food”. For international flavours, Skotarczyk recommends Zen On, a MICHELIN Guide restaurant known for its top-notch ramen, Kaba Sushi - a bit off a beaten tourist track but worth travelling from the city centre - , and Morriña - Taberna Galega, which has an amazing menu of Galician dishes. “I would also recommend you check out 62 Bar & Restaurant, featured in the MICHELIN Guide selection for Poznań,” he adds. Here, under one roof, you will find a bar serving classic cocktails and a restaurant that rustles up contemporary food.
For sweet cravings, chef Artur Skotarczyk suggests Inna Piekarnia, an artisanal bakery packed with an array of wonderful sweet pastries, as well as delicious savoury baked goods.
Skotarczyk also recommends visiting one of Poznań’s open-air markets. “Personally, I often go to the market in the Jeżyce district (Rynek Jeżycki), whose stalls boast a fabulous variety of fresh produce, local dairy products, pickles and preserves. Even if not for shopping, it is still worth going there just to see.”
Our Poznań insider jokes that his city is obviously not only about eating. “Do make time to visit some of our most important sights, such as Ostrów Tumski with its historical sacral architecture and Stary Rynek (Old Town Square). It’s best to show up at the latter around noon, because as the clock strikes twelve Poznań’s famous mechanical goats pop out of the town hall tower. I also enjoy a stroll around beautiful Park Cytadela (Citadel Park), preferably on a weekday, when it is less crowded than at the weekend.”
Address bookMICHELIN Recommended
Zen On, Święty Marcin 21, Poznan, 61-804, Poland
62 Bar & Restaurant, ul. Świętego Michała 62, Poznan, 61 005, Poland
MUGA, ul. Krysiewicza 5, Poznan, 61 825, Poland
MUGA’s chef favourite Spots
Hyćka, Rynek Śródecki 17, Poznań
Talerzyki, Wawrzyniaka 20, 61-001 Poznań, Polen
Kaba Sushi, Konfederacka 2, 60-283 Poznań, Polen
Morriña - Taberna Galega, Święty Marcin 61, 61-806 Poznań, Polen
Inna Piekarnia, Ratajczaka 39, 61-816 Poznań, Polen
Illustration Image: Artur Skotarczyk/Muga; Scallops, Wasabi, Apple, Coconut, Edamame/Muga; Dish 62 Bar&Restaurant/62 Bar & Restaurant: City of Poznan in the snow © KavalenkavaVolha/iStock