NJK, the villa-type unique summer restaurant, located on the small island of Valkosaari, was built in 1900. It is one of the most popular locations for festivities and one of the most popular crayfish restaurant in Helsinki. Suprisingly there was no wedding party on that specific Saturday when we had dinner. Usually it is really difficult to get table during summer weekends.
Before dinner, if weather allows, you must enjoy aperitives at the second floor small terrace. From there you can also see restaurant Saaristo which is located on island Klippan. It is one of the several island restaurants in the foreground of Kaivopuisto. (review posted 22.6.2013)
There was few days left to try special 5 dishes Archipelago herbs menu, which 2 of us decided to order. Each portion included some Finnish herb from the restaurant’s own greenhouse. Portions were also named by the herb used to prepare dish. You could also choose recommended wines which we also did. Especially red wine deserved special attention.
Also chose 2 menus from a la carte list; those portions are marked with +. And with these dishes the wine choice was a bottle of Villa Huesgen Schiefer Riesling from Mosel. Dry and balanced German riesling.
White fish ceviche and +NJK’s fish assortment
First herb dish was white fish ceviche. White fish (lavaret) is one of the best Finnish fishes and when it is served spiced and raw, it is always worth to try. Cicely paired well with white fish but saltiness ruled over a little bit. Excellent starter for dinner anyway.
Fish assortment included herrings, white fish roe with creme fraiche and onion, small smoked vendaces, shrimp skagen and salmon with mustard-dill dressing. But this was not all although most famous and best Finnish fishes were already on the plate. In addition to an assortment of fish, NJK served new potatoes and creamy morel mushroom sauce.
Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rosé, Spain 10 cl
Campo Viejo rose cava paired well with tart and salty ceviche. However, it did not beat Lanson Rose which we sipped for aperitives at the small 2nd floor terrace while enjoying sunny day and maritime landscape.
Mussel risotto with grilled scampi
After tasty ceviche we were served delicous risotto. Cooking time for rice was perfect and scampi complemented taste of mussels nicely. Not sure if flavor of chives was enough strong but excellent primi piatti anyway.
Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Riesling, Australia 12 cl
We were first served inadvertently red wine which should have been the third wine. It suited well with risotto, maybe even better than this riesling we got before finishing risotto. Rieslings are our favourite white wines but maybe this one required more acidity with risotto.
Herb roasted fillet of lamb with dark parsley sauce and +Pike-perch with lemon beurre blanc
Third dish from herbs menu was fillet of lamb which you could have been changed to pike-perch if you would have preferred fish. Parsley suited well with the meat which had perfect rose inside.
Pike-perch had as a side dish cauliflower pyre which we asked to change for one of the portions. Fish was well prepared and tasty. Pike-perch is not so common fish to be served in restaurants in Finland. If it is on the a la carte menu, order it.
Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz, Australia 16 cl
Jacob’s Creek reserve shiraz rose to our favourite from all four wines. Deep and balanced bouquet as well as flavor. Wine which you should have in your wine cabinet. Perfect pairing with lamb but also with risotto as mentioned earlier.
Thyme flavoured melon with currant leaf sorbet
Sorbet came in handy after lamb. Perfect food melter before dessert.
Strawberries with mint and lime mousse and +Chocolate and fudge ganache with blackberry sorbet
Mousse looked like ice-cream and first thought why serve ice-cream after sorbet. Fresh and sweet strawberries are always perfect way to end the dinner.
Chocolate dessert was master piece. Really sweet fudge but sorbet suitably slimmed it down not to bee too heavy.
Mumm Demi-Sec 10 cl
Dessert champagne was second best of the pre-selected wines. Port or sweet wine would have been too twee for strawberries but even for chocolate dessert. Excellent choice by sommelier.
NJK maintains traditions of letting customers to choose avec for coffee from drinks trolley instead of ordering it from list. Might be costly if you do not know what you have chosen. We did.
Restaurant NJK is a one of the few classic restaurants in Helsinki, like Savoy. You should invite your foreign quests there in order to get them familiar with Finnish archipelago and food. And both only from 2 minutes boat trip distance and a stone’s throw away from Market Square (Kauppatori).
Regarding the headline, time stands still at restaurant NJK. And it really does when you step into the buiding and sit at a table. If all the boats in NJK yacht club harbour were old sailing boats, then you really would wonder if time has gone back.
Food at NJK is excellent but unfortunately this time there was some instability in service which should not be there, not at NJK. Waitresses should be guided to details when it comes to menu and drinks, although she would be temporary worker. However, arrangement of aperitives at the 2nd floor terrace earned 5 points which increased service grade. And overall grade is high due to unique milieu, solemn but relaxed athmosphere and dinner entourage.
REVIEW: FOOD 4+/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 5-/5