Ustka is a beautiful seaside resort that owes its reputation to enchanting architecture and spa features. Hardly anyone knows Ustka as a port town where sea fish have been caught and processed for many years. Of course, in a seaside town there is bound to be an abundance of fresh fish and all kinds of bistros or fish and chip shops. However, what we found for you is an eating place where outstanding dishes are prepared from the freshest Baltic fish at very affordable prices. Where to find it, you will ask. Well, the restaurant concept bears the name of “Dym na Wodzie” (Smoke on Water) and is located right next to the seaside promenade. The boss and owner of the restaurant is Rafał Niewiarowski, who has worked as a chef in numerous renowned hotels in Ustka. He started his own business not so long ago and has already made himself a name. His restaurant has been listed, for example, among the best 100 restaurants in Poland. We decided to find out why Rafał’s cuisine has been so highly evaluated and why the fish of Ustka is worth tasting.
Permeated with iodine after a walk with a blissful view of Ustka’s beach, we go out to the terrace of the Dym na Wodzie. Before crossing the threshold we must seriously consider whether we prefer a view of the sea from the wooden terrace or the restaurant’s quiet interior. The weather made the choice for us – and you do need a rest sometimes even from the sun and the beach. As we entered, a friendly waitress welcomed us and showed us to a place in a larger room. A nice-looking table was interestingly arranged with seats whose backrests were made of antique beds. Complementing the warm brown colours of the interior, there are paintings by an artist from Ustka, which betrays the original tastes of the owner.
The restaurant’s staff make every effort to ensure that the menu faithfully reflects the seasons. This is why it is changed as often as 6 times during the year! These are gradual changes, and the menu has its permanent anchors, too, that attract guests from all over Poland as well as from abroad. One of such anchor items is the appetizer that we choose: salmon tartare with camelina oil. We don’t have to wait long for the appetizer to be served. Its form surpasses our expectations. The composition on the plate is enticingly delicate and light. Its central point is the finely chopped meat of salmon, the king of the Baltic, covered with cucumber froth. On the plate, the taste of tartare is enhanced by sour trimmings: marinated chanterelles, onions and capers as well as fresh cucumber, which are the chef’s signature idea. What seems to be the most interesting and impressive is the fresh cucumber, gently fried and compressed in wine vinegar. Its texture fully brings out freshness and crispiness, whereas the taste is much closer to pickled cucumber. The fish itself is velvety in both consistency and taste. Combination with camelina oil serves it well.
This being the pumpkin season, we decide to try a cream of this autumn vegetable. Each chef attempts to give pumpkin soup a slightly different temperament. This vegetable goes together perfectly with both sweet and sour flavours. The soup is served in a very original plate. Frankly speaking, we have never seen this kind of tableware. The thick sides of the plate excellently maintain high temperature. We ask the waitress about the producer. The tableware turns out to have been hand-made to the restaurant’s order by local ceramists. The soup proves to be interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is served in an original way, for the entire plate was smeared with cream and then sprinkled with ground wholemeal bread gently roasted with black caraway. Second, in the centre of the plate there floats a substantial portion of cream quenelle. Hot soup and cool cream provide very intense taste impressions, which we like very much. Apart from the creamy consistency of liquids, there are also pleasantly crunchy elements in the soup: rosted pumpkin seeds and bread crumble. The latter has an amazing leaven aroma. We will remember the pumpkin soup for a long time: it was delicious. Delighted with the soup, we ask Rafał, the chef, for a few words of explanation on what gave him the idea of using wholemeal bread. Rafał explains that he is fascinated with baking and that he bakes breads himself, using leaven obtained from a local baker. That leaven works uninterruptedly since 1967, which is not without significance when it comes to its taste.
As the main course, we order Baltic plaice. The waitress informs us that the fish comes from today’s catch and has just been filleted. What encourages us to choose this dish is its composition, including, among other things, batter dumplings and sauerkraut. Reying on the talents of local chefs, we decide to trust this non-classic combination. We are not disappointed. The dish we receive confirms an excellent sense of flavours and textures. The whole is served on a bed of beetroot and horseradish purée; in it is on this bed that batter dumplings are placed, fried with sauerkraut. On top of that, there are two plaice fillets prepared on butter and decorative leaves of fried curly kale. The manner of serving was definitely well thought-out. It not only delighted the eyes but also contributed to the main function of the dish, making it easy to consume. Taste-wise, the dish was superb. The crispiness of the fried fish skin and fried curly kale perfectly harmonized with the creamy velvety purée, batter dumplings, and fish meat. It takes someone who has served thousands of fish in their life to show such boldness in composing fish-based dishes and achieve such positively surprising effects.
For dessert, we chose “molten chocolate cake” – a chocolate fondant with Ustka toffee sauce from the Mistral Café. The cake was the final point of the perfect meal.
We recommend the Dym na Wodzie, as it is doubly worth noting that in places such as Ustka, which were of no culinary interest until recently and where we used to be condemned to the dominance of chips and fish in breadcrumbs, it is now possible to find ambitious and quality catering. For us, it is a necessary condition of successful holidays.
Chopina 9, Ustka
phone.: + 48 661 432 403