Food & DrinkPolishRestaurants

Konspira: Nostalgic Venue Avoids Tacky Clichés

In the southwest corner of Pl. Solny, a small dim passage leads through the buildings and emerges on a small courtyard. Here, under the canopy of a great willow's shadowy leaves, sits the restaurant Konspira, a secret hideaway from the bustle of Wroclaw's main square. 

Inside you'll find a rough brick interior with dark forbidding arches. It suggests a church or cavern, but it's a cozy, even romantic space, as though the diners are making clandestine plans away from prying eyes. 

It's a good setting for this restaurant, whose profits go into the attached history center dedicated to the memory of the many resistance groups that fought against the oppression of the Soviet era during the 1980s, including Solidarity and its more militant wing, Fighting Solidarity. On the walls and in the "secret room" next door is hung memorabilia from the communist era of Polish history. Subversive cartoons from the era are painted on the walls next to framed newspaper clippings, flyers, and other documents of the era. 

Photo © facebook.com/ceh.konspira

It's always a dicey proposition to pick a historical theme and not become a tacky nostalgia bin or remember-when factory. And to be honest, any attempts to seriously examine the memorabilia run into the issue of diners at tables under the exhibits, which means Konspira has to operate first and best as a traditional restaurant. Luckily and surprisingly in this area they show proper sensibility. 

The menu is printed on paper in the style of underground newspapers printed during the Solidarity era, and you are encouraged to take it home for leisure reading. (There will not be a quiz.) Next to the food items are mini-essays on the history of Poland during the communist regime, and of the resistance movements of the 80's that helped bring it down. 

The food itself is traditional Polish fare, and each dish is named according to the theme. The Workmen's Platter or the Revolutionary's Meal, for instance. There are also pierogi and soups, including a rye soup served in a bread bowl. It's a hearty menu cooked up with a sophisticated flourish, all for reasonable prices (15-30zl for an entree). I ordered the student's lunch – two chicken medallions lightly breaded and fried. The meat was tender and buttery, and the sides – beetroot & cabbage – were a fine accompaniment. On the side was a neat borscht, lighter then the usual beet stew, but still flavorful and rich. The beer and liquor is also cheap and plentiful. 

The only drawback was the service, which was fairly slow, so it helps if you're not in a hurry. And in such a romantic setting you will not be in a rush to leave anyway. So enjoy a coffee with dessert, and raise a glass to the revolutionaries who laid the groundwork for your night out.

Konspira, pl Solny 11

Telephone: 796 326 600, Website

Mike Ramberg

Mike Ramberg is an American writer recently relocated to Wroclaw from Ankara, Turkey (And South Korea before that). He blogs occasionally at www.grebmar.net.

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