23 Port Street, Evesham
Tel: 01386 446010

IN recent years the Vale of Evesham’s horticultural industry has seen a dramatic renaissance, the fertile fields of south Worcestershire have reclaimed their mantle as one of England’s most important growing regions.

This resurgence of fortune has come hand-in-hand with the arrival of many young workers from across the world; particularly Eastern Europe and especially Poland. A Polish community in Evesham is nothing new. During the Second World War many Free Polish were billeted nearby and some of them settled in the area.

But it’s the latest wave of arrivals that have truly made their mark on the town. This is particularly noticeable in Port Street, the main street of Bengeworth, which sits over the river from Evesham proper – just as St John’s looks across to Worcester.

Here there are a few shops specialising in Eastern European food and a restaurant, Via Cracow, that serves traditional Polish cuisine.

I visited with a friend and neither of us really knew what to expect. However, the menu was very accessible, with the local specialities clearly described and many tempting options that I wouldn’t have associated with Polish food.

The waitress was very helpful, advising my dining companion against zurek, a hearty soup served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread. She suggested it was the sort of dish more suitable for a very hungry man who’d put in a hard day’s toil in the fields.

As it was, she decided on prawns in garlic butter, and I opted for mixed pierogi – little dumplings stuffed with a variety of fillings: minced meat; wild mushrooms and sauerkraut and cottage cheese, potato and onion.

Both dishes were delicious, and beautifully presented.

For the main course I asked the waitress to recommend something, and was delighted when she pointed out the dish I’d had my eye on all along – loin of wild boar with hawthorn berry (sloe) sauce, potato cakes and salad. My friend also took a recommendation and went for the Polish-style half duck with cooked beetroot and sauteed potatoes. Both came as generous portions – and if they hadn’t been so delicious we could never have done them justice.

In fact, we both enjoyed them so much we had no room for pudding, which was a shame, as having seen some desserts served to other diners, we were clearly missing out.

The bill for the food, a bottle of very nice chianti and two coffees was a little over £60. There was also a complimentary glass of spiced vodka on arrival which was a nice touch.

At this point it’s customary to find some fault or quibble.

However, I am at a loss. All I could possibly say is that the frontage of the restaurant is looking a bit faded and doesn’t do justice to its spacious, welcoming and scrupulously clean interior.

I will return to Via Cracow, and I hope that before too long I can combine that pleasure with a visit to the nearby Regal Cinema, which is due to reopen soon after being closed for several years.

With these two venues and the friendly pubs that have survived along Port Street, Bengeworth – for so long the poor relation of Evesham over the Avon – can once again be a destination for a great night out in its own right.


Food: 5
Service: 5
Ambience: 3
Value for money: 3