Review: Challenge ’32 Review: Challenge ’32

First Impressions

Seen as a shining glass block the color of midnight, the Renaissance Hotel has reinvented the airport stay through its experience-led philosophy and design-forward style. Expecting a cookie cutter feel? Then think again. Decked out to tune into Warsaw’s tradition of modernism and graphic design, the lobby alone is a richly sensual vision that feels delicious on the eye.

Likewise, the restaurant. Split in two sections, the principal dining room is a well-spaced area of spot lighting and warming colors; more intimate, a second room awaits with a monochromatic palette softened by brushed gold features and stretching mirrors. Were it not for the travel bags and cases, you’d imagine yourself being downtown in a fine dining haunt. Frankly, it all feels so good.

Captain’s Cabin

Given the location right across from the departures terminal, the narrative has been written around the golden age of flight, with the restaurant’s name taken from an inter-war competition won by Polish aviators Franciszek Żwirko and Stanisław Wigura.

To fit the story, find staff resplendent in vintage flight clobber and a Polish-rooted menu with a noticeable international spin. As for your captain, that’s Andrzej Bryk, and you can consider his cabin the open kitchen positioned at the head of the primary dining room.

On The Menu

As a meal, it takes-off from pretty much from the moment you’re seated. Wild mushroom soup with flakes of black truffle and gooey Bursztyn cheese is thick, creamy and of an intensity that’s deep and dreamy; tartar, served in a warm brioche with a strip of dried beef, proves an inventive take on a domestic classic; and there is a pleasing beetroot cake with Chevre cheese, orange fillets and raspberry dressing. As a hat tip to more global visitors, Bonito tuna tartar is an irresistible bite with chia, mango essence and a teat pipette of teriyaki sauce.

Mains soar, as well. Fresh Croatian seabass – filleted but then reconstructed to look like it leapt from the water to your plate – is the star of the day, narrowly beating tender, roasted veal chops that arrive with fried kale, a celery puree and a sauce of tonic and chocolate.  

Happy landings are guaranteed with our trio of desserts numbering a szarlotka apple cake with caramel ice cream, a meringue with coffee cream served on bubbling ice, and a passion fruit mousse of subtle fruity kick.

Final Thoughts

Executed to flawless standard, dinner inside Challenge 32 is so much more than a stop-gap before flights. True, the customer base is heavily based on travelers, but such is the quality it’s a place that makes any pre-flight ritual increasingly attractive.

Challenge 32

ul. Żwirki I Wigury 1 (Renaissance Hotel), renaissancewarszawa.pl

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