If you are in Helsinki in summer and the weather is warm, there is a hidden gem you ought to visit: Pihlajasaari island. No wonder this picturesque island with the sandy beaches is beloved by Helsinkians.
On a warm, sunny day towards the end of July our blended family of five (2 adults and 3 children) hopped on a water bus from Helsinki and within 10 mins we were in the lovely Pihlajasaari island.
The lovely Pihlajasaari island seems to be one of the most important summer getaways for Helsinkians, as the ferry was packed with people, especially families with kids. I must say that after 15 years living in Finland, it was my first time visiting and it is now one of the most memorable experiences I have had, so I am definitely returning back. Visitors can find their own spot either on the picturesque sandy beaches or on any of the plenty of rocks on the other side of the island.
Visiting Pihlajasaari island is a day trip and in order to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger, I recommend visiting the Pihlajasaari Restaurant. It is situated in the western part of the island. Upon arrival at the dock, turn right and keep walking along a sandy path for 300 meters. There stands the charming Pihlajasaari Restaurant in an old wooden villa with an excellent view of the Gulf of Finland. Pihlajasaari is owned by the City of Helsinki and Theron Catering has rented the villa where Pihlajasaari Restaurant is operating in. The building was built in 1883 and has been a restaurant since 1929. We sat at the seaside terrace of Pihlajasaari Restaurant, which is undoubtedly one of the best summer terraces in Helsinki. We enjoyed delicious food in a calm, cozy atmosphere with excellent service by the professional and friendly personnel with a view of a picture-postcard scenery.
The award-winning Theron Catering provides bistro food at Pihlajasaari Restaurant. Island visitors and beach-goers can enjoy simple, familiar, affordable bistro food, while taking a hike, swim or sunbathing. Here you can enjoy salads, soups, fish, chicken, meat and vegetarian dishes.
Our menu consisted of the following mouth-watering dishes:
Ginger-marinated, sesame-roasted country chicken breast on salad bed
Creamy archipelago salmon soup – archipelago bread and butter
Blue mussels ala Pihlajasaari
Butter-fried traditional herring steaks, early potatoes and dill seasoned sour cream sauce
Mini meatballs and fries
We have been satisfied with all dishes in terms of quality, quality and price range (from 14,50€-17€ for adult portions and 7,90€ for the kids meatballs). The eldest of our kids stated that the “salmon soup was the best I ever had!” Also, we -adults – enjoyed a beer and a glass of white wine.
“All the items on the menu have been created by Tero Blom, founder and owner of Theron Catering, himself. My favourite dishes are the mussels, the goat cheese salad and the beautifully-made vegan curry,” explains Viivi Koskinen restaurant manager of Pihlajasaari restaurant that I had a chance to meet shortly as she was busy working.
Bonus points for the freshly baked donuts! They were fluffy, warm and delightful bringing memories of memorable summers at your grandparents' house.
“We have 9 magnificent workers at the restaurant. We also have 2 workers at our beach cafe, which has the best view on the sea”, Viivi explained as I congratulated her on the excellent service and friendly personnel.
Pihlajasaari Restaurant is open daily from 11:30-19:30. It welcomes guests until the first weekend of September (until 6.9.2020). For more information, please visit Pihlajasaari restaurant’s website and Pihlajasaari restaurant’s Facebook page.