Just when I thought that I have experienced pretty much everything that Helsinki has to offer, I was proven SO wrong by visiting restaurant Saaristo! Visit Helsinki cycle of posts brings us to another gem on Helsinki’s gastronomy scene, Finnish traditional cuisine presented in a fine dining way. I’d say that restaurant Saaristo is situated on a wonderful location to take your significant other for a romantic trip/ dinner or organise a celebration, such as your own wedding perhaps.
You need to take a very short, but lovely boat ride to the restaurant ( the ride is a minute long one and the ticket price is included in your bill at the end of your lunch/ dinner ). Upon arriving to the small island Klippan where the restaurant is situated, you have a nice walking path through a small forest, up to the top of the rock where the grandiose restaurant awaits for you. It’s a very spacious and bright place with the most spectacular views on Helsinki’s sea port and surrounding small islands. I must be honest and say that the view took my breath away and during the whole dinner, I couldn’t stop “staring” outside the window… The surrounding was surreal.
Saaristo is very popular at this time of the year, because : 1.) it’s Summer and it’s a must visit place during a sunny day, 2.) it’s the crayfish season and there’s no better place to enjoy your crayfish party than there. 🙂
We have decided to check out their a-la-carte menu and present you with as many dishes as possible to give you an insight into when old, traditional Finnish cuisine meets the new, modern way of thinking and art of plating. As for the starters we had to test Breeze from Scandinavia plate, a selection of all of the Saaristo’s best flavours as well as their marinated gravlax.
Breeze from Scandinavia plate was a very generous portion of the best of the starters and I would recommend you to share this plate with one or two more persons. Add to this a lovely basket of homemade bread and you really don’t need any other starter. The plate consists of: raw salmon with dill aioli, Klippan island cheese, lamb sausage, elk pate, skagen shrimp salad, green salad, baltic herring with with sea buckthorn and herring with marinated onion. As for the marinated gravlax, it’s aquavit marinated salmon with potato salad, dill mousse, dill chips made of rice, capers and rye bread.
Oh my! I can’t tell you how amazed we were with this overwhelming selection of seriously the best of flavours not just of Saaristo restaurant but also in general in any of the similar restaurants we’ve been to in Helsinki! Everything was so fresh, filled with flavour, the A class fish and meat… Wow! Absolutely mind-blowing starter experience.
As for the main courses, we have decided to test out one vegetarian dish and one “meaty” one. As the “greetings from the kitchen” we got a fish dish portion of artic char.
Let’s start with the vegetarian dish – Jerusalem artichokes pan fried in the seaweed butter, served with porcini muffin and hollandaise sauce with nettle and radishes. Wonderfully presented dish didn’t disappoint in any way. For my personal preferences, the taste of artichokes had bit of a ” burnt taste ” and I wasn’t a big fan of that, but muffin was so moist and the taste was outstanding. It worked perfectly with the sauce. I would say that this is one of the more interesting vegetarian dishes you can find in Helsinki, def. worth giving it a try.
Meat dish was smoked cour de filet with wild mushrooms, thyme butter sauce, homemade gnocchi and roasted carrots. Meat, as you can see from the photos, the meat was so tender, perfectly done medium rare, it was a real, mouthwatering score for the meat lover. Crunchy, roasted carrots and buttery, soft gnocchi were perfect companions to this wonderfully done filet.
The fish portion – artic char got a little “tweak” because usually they offer rainbow trout, but we’ve been told that they had hard times getting enough of fresh rainbow trout to the restaurant and since they are offering only the best, prime ingredients, they made this dish with an artic char instead. I LOVE salmon and something that I love even more than salmon is artic char. It came with grilled fennel, marinated cucumber, cauliflower and Blanc Beure emulsion. Wow! I was swept off my feat! I thought so many times that I already ate the best possible salmon/ fish dish in Finland and I got proven wrong almost each time I came to another restaurant and got to taste yet another amazing fish dish. If you’re visiting Finland, you simply MUST try salmon dish or anything related to salmon, because people here have the best AND most delicious salmon/ fish ever! YUM!
I seriously have no idea how did we managed to test three different desserts, but even though we couldn’t finish them we got a pretty great idea of what they have to offer and they were all equally amazing, but our favourite was Skyr mousse with meringue, pepper marinated berries and strawberry sorbet! Wonderful dessert, worth all of the praise and def. worth trying it at least one more time. Other two desserts were sea buckthorn, carrot cake crumble and cream and the final one – chef’s favourite 64% chocolate brownie cake with yoghurt ice cream.
It was a “bitter-sweet” moment to leave this beautiful restaurant and island because of one of the best experiences I had in Finland ever since I have arrived here 9 years ago. Thank you wonderful staff at Saaristo for making me feel like I’m living a dream. Working has never been more sweeter! 🙂
Now, go, book yourself a prime seat at this gorgeous restaurant, you will be warmly surprised!
*This post was made in collaboration with Saaristo restaurant. All of the opinions are my own.
*Thank you Miss Johanna for making this collaboration possible and being a wonderful person to collaborate with.
*Photography by: Natali K. photography