West London’s Polish community is well served by restaurants purveying hearty soul food at reasonable prices, with Knaypa being a prime example. The popular steak tartare is an implausibly large plateful for a starter, and the sharing platters are ample for a family group, let alone a couple. Groups of any size are readily accommodated in two rooms of dramatic contrast. The ground-floor space has dark walls and tables, subdued lighting and bright red chairs (echoed by the rococo red frames of risqué posters). Downstairs takes you into a Silesian inn, with antlers replacing posters, and food served on wooden platters.
Individual dishes proved more accomplished than the sharing platter. Krokiet (rolled, fried pancakes filled with tender sauerkraut and wild mushrooms) was a delightfully light and crisp first course, accompanied by a cupful of well-executed borscht; in the platter, advance cooking had rendered them leaden, and a smoked sheep’s cheese was leathery. Traditional apple cake made a sound and filling dessert, though the mandarin segment garnishes seemed anachronistic. To finish, a glass of iced krupnik on the house was the kind of touch that ensures Knaypa’s popularity.