The last couple of years have seen hoards of 24 hour 'Polish tapas' style venues prop up across the city, so the opening of yet another place using the same format doesn't exactly look an intriguing prospect. Yet Kombinat, a new bistro housed in the former site of John Bull Pub on Plac Solny, has enough in its locker make it stand out from its counterparts. Thanks to its great location, decent menu and trendy interior, Kombinat has what it takes to vie for your attention with the likes of Przedwojenna, Setka and Bistro Przemysłowe.
When we first caught eye of John Bull's replacement a couple of weeks ago, we were less than enthusiastic about it being another venue using the 4zl for a drink, 8zl for a snack formula. The so called 'Polish tapas' bar has been done to death in Wroclaw, with a mirage of bistros offering the same rehashed food at the same prices. Our first impressions weren't good either, as the bar looked like it had been rushed into service before all the finishing touches were in place. After spending some time in Kombinat however, our preconceptions soon went out of the window. This is by no means another commercialized 'copy and paste' 24 hour bistro with the same naff decor. Kombinat's rough, industrial look actually adds to its charm, while the menu differs just enough to keep your tastebuds interested.
As you stroll across the beer garden on entry, you'll come across one of Kombinat's characteristic features: the contemporary, industrial style furniture. The stools, seats and tables are all made from metallic pipes screwed together by large bolts, with plastic or wooden surfaces firmly attached on top. It might not be everybody's cup of tea, but it does bring an original look to the place – something that is very much lacking in a number of newly opened venues in Wroclaw.
Once inside you'll find more traditional furniture sitting alongside the modern, pipe structured stools, with various old crooked tables and chairs taking up the available spaces either side of the bar. There are virtually no remains of the English pub that previously held the lease, with the dingy carpets, stained curtains and 'traditional' bar completely ripped out. In their place Kombinat have gone for a look that in their words "creates the climate of an old factory". Brick walls have been built where they weren't before, some of which are decorated with original posters of various food factories. A humble blackboard hangs from the ceiling, while the modest drinks shelf behind the bar shows off their basic choice of spirits.
Kombinat's menu, unlike most other late night bistros, can differ from day to day. While there are the usual bistro favourites such as tatar, Kombinat does offer a few decent alternatives to boot. On the couple of visits we made in the last week, we were able to sample a few such dishes. The first was the 'Schab burger', which is basically a large slice of toast with two bits of Schabowy on top. In the photo on the right this was served with a side dish of cabbage, although this is now placed on top of the 'burger' so it can be eaten easily by hand. Other dishes we tried out include the more conventional 'pan burger', which was decent value for 8zl, and a meaty 'gołąb', which was attractively served with some tasty tomato sauce and a neat dollop of mashed potato.
As far as beer goes, a small Warka costs 4zl, while a half litre can be bought for just 7zl – not bad for a location like Plac Solny. If Zywiec is your thing, you can grab a glass for 1zl extra. Soft drinks and basic spirits such as Wodka are 4zl, while more luxurious options are available for 8zl.
Despite the fact that it doesn't quite yet look the finished article, Kombinat already appears set to make an impact on Wroclaw's late night bistro scene. The menu provides a few options that differ to their competitors, and the prices are very competitive too. When you also weigh in Kombinat's attractive location on Plac Solny, the place seems to have every chance of making a name for itself. One thing is for sure however – Kombinat certainly offers our city more than the chain convenience store that was reportedly close to taking the lease!
Kombinat, Plac Solny 6/7
Tel: 500312405, Facebook Page