I reluctantly left my exceedingly comfortable room at ARIES Hotel & Spa — a gorgeous oasis in this touristy town nestled in the midst of the scenic Tatra Mountains — to venture out into the rain in search of dinner. Along the main strip, lined with some of the town’s distinctive wood architecture, stores stay open late for the throngs of tourists, and restaurants are full. I was lured to one of them, Pstrag Górski, by a stream that rushes by its terrace. A little bridge crosses over the water to the entrance of this charming restaurant.
I walked in to find, as expected, a crowd. But there’s a reason for it. The all-wood interior — floors, walls, ceilings, columns, beams, furniture — induces an inviting ambiance, a lovely warmth against the chilly night. Monks sculpted of wood, enjoying a stein of grog, stand in leisurely poses around you. Pops of color originate from the stained-glass lighting fixtures, with designs of fish swimming in the aqua water through wisps of seaweed, and from the blues and reds in the curtains.
Score a table upstairs for views of the stream or the bustling street as you cozy up under one of the woolly sheepskins draping the backs of chairs. Service here may be a little dilatory and perfunctory, but the mood and the food more than compensate for it.
Try This: Start with a warming soup, a plate of blueberry pierogi, or, better yet, the potato pancake with garlic butter and sheep cottage cheese. For your entrée, you can opt for pasta or salmon in a butter sauce, for example, but because the restaurant’s name means “mountain trout,” you’d be well advised to order this local fish. Grilled and accompanied by a starchy side of rice or potatoes, the trout is served with your choice of one of two dozen different sauces and garnishes, including a lemon-dill sauce, almonds and honey, horseradish, mushrooms, bacon, juniper berries, and mustard-garlic sauce. Contemplate your favorite while enjoying a pint of Polish beer while soaking in the old-school atmosphere.