When the construction of the modern power plant “Ołowianka” commenced in 1897, the plans assumed that it would allow to light 6,800 bulbs in Gdańsk simultaneously. Although today this would only be enough to illuminate one shopping arcade and although the building was destroyed by a bomb in March 1945, the power plant was rebuilt and has served the citizens of Gdańsk for over a century now.
On the centenary of the commencement of its construction, the building became the new home for the Polish Baltic Philharmonic. After conversion and adjustment for music and congressional purposes, it also became home to the FiIharmonia Restaurant, which we had an opportunity to visit.
A philharmonics is a place that carries associations of a temple of art and an artistic atmosphere. The restaurant remains consistent with these ideas. Apart from the building’s neo-Gothic architecture and the restaurant’s elegant décor, the real soul of the place is the wall painting that extends over all the three storeys there. The painting represents various scenes from the life of Old Gdańsk’s inhabitants, with St Dominic’s Fair as the main motif. Populated with folk musicians and buskers, it exudes an atmosphere of mystery and anxiety, somehow bringing artistic bohemia to mind.
Besides the décor, what immediately drew our attention was two terraces – one of them located on the building’s roof and the other situated on the edge of the island, overlooking Długie Pobrzeże (Long Riverside Promenade). Both afford a wonderful view over the must-see spots in Gdańsk – and we immensely regretted that it was still to cool that day for us to sit on one of these terraces.
Apart from beautiful views and artistic interior design, the restaurant offers an exquisite menu with element of fusion and molecular cuisine. Head Chef Mariusz Wolski and his team create remarkable dishes by combining various flavours, fragrances, and textures. We immediately had the impression that cooking was their passion and pleasure and that our palates were in good hands.
Thanks to its simple form and no sophisticated names, the menu strikingly contrasted with the dishes themselves. The latter constitute remarkable combinations of ingredients listed in the menu, nothing short of impressive culinary works of art. They represent a cuisine of imagination, where nearly every day, depending on the cooks’ ingenuity, dishes are prepared out of the same ingredients but in totally different forms. Apart from the standard menu, the head chef also invites guests to try a seven-course tasting menu, which makes it possible to get acquainted with a broader array of dishes offered.
Choosing dishes turned out to be the greatest challenge for us – virtually everything was tempting. What to have as an appetizer? Young deer carpaccio in cornel and plum sauce or cod roe emulsion with a chicken cracker and pectens? The choice was difficult.
The head chef persuaded us to try an extraordinary tartare of young ecological carrots with an egg filled with saffron bouillon. Served on a bed of liver powder accompanied by black elder, it made up an interesting combination. The whole dish was a fairly harmonious combination – wild elder added a tart flavour to it and egg yolk with bouillon complemented its taste.
When it came to soups, we settled on parsnip cream with lovage pesto and marinated pecten – and that was an excellent choice. The soup was mild and sweetish in taste, with perceptible flavours of garlic and Parmesan cheese, covered with creamy mousse. It tasted delicious in combination with a pecten sprinkled with black lava salt. Salmon caviar pleasantly crunched, and its distinctive taste perfectly counterpointed the flavour of the soup. A salad of chervil, wood sorrel and lettuce sprinkled with lovage pesto was served as a side dish.
As main courses, the waiter recommended salmon and venison.
Baltic salmon was served on a creamy bed of potato purée. Accompanied by cod mousse, mushy peas, and lemongrass sauce, the seemingly simple dish changed into a very interesting culinary experience. The delicate and juicy fish meat was counterpointed by the distinctive pungent taste of cod roe mousse. There was also lemongrass sauce, which particularly appealed to our taste. It gave the dish a strongly oriental and at the same time intriguing character. Sweet mushy peas served with confit tomatoes was a proverbial icing on the cake.
The next dish, served by the head chef himself, took us again into the world of creativity and art. What we saw on the plate was nothing short of an impressive artwork, inconspicuously described in the menu as “venison tenderloin, mushrooms, grey rennet, juniper, baked pepper.” The dish turned out to be a veritable extravaganza of flavours, fragrances, and aromas. Thanks to its well thought-out recipe, all the ingredients went perfectly together.
Arranged on creamy potato purée, tender venison had been prepared using the sous vide method, thanks to which it virtually melted in the mouth. The characteristic taste of venison was counterpointed by tart chokeberry and complemented by bay bolete mousse as well as a boletus proudly displayed on the plate. We approached the grey rennet mouse somewhat unconvinced, as it seemed to us to go with duck or goose rather than venison. Our doubts proved to gave been be unnecessary, though – the choice turned out to be a success, just like the baked pepper mousse with a crunchy carrot crisp.
But let us return to the visual part for a moment. Venison tenderloins interleaved with two-coloured beetroot, the whole gently brushed with Blue Curacao liqueur, resembled a painting that made you want to it on a wall.
After so many taste impressions, it seemed to us that we had no room left for dessert. Yet, we let ourselves be persuaded to have one portion of ice cream made in-house. What we were served exceeded our wildest expectations. A portion consisted of five sherbet ice cream scoops of different flavours. Even if you are not chocolate ice cream enthusiasts, those will delight you with their creamy texture and a not-too-sweet, truly chocolate taste. Following the artistic trail, the coconut mousse of Malibu gave this dessert a touch of poetry and the scoop of white chocolate ice cream ensured concert-like sensations.
The green parsley sherbet counterpointed by bitter-and-sour drops of sea-buckthorn sauce and citrus flavours of orange sauce sprinkled with white chocolate was splendid, too. In addition to that, there were the interesting flavours of refreshing bison-grass sherbet and plum sherbet with raspberry sauce. A coconut milk crisp and slices of fresh pineapple made the composition complete.
Summing up, whoever values culinary art should visit this place. The Filharmonia Restaurant guarantees the best experience, both aesthetic and culinary, particularly to those looking for unique combinations of flavours and fragrances. It does all this thanks to the extraordinary passion and creativity of the head chef and his team, who join forces to provide us with unforgettable impressions.
Carrot tartare – 34 PLN
Parsnip cream – 24 PLN
Venison tenderloin – 99 PLN
Baltic salmon – 64 PLN
Ice cream – 22 PLN
Text and photos: Iwona Kowalska
tel.: 799 000 003
Open every day from 12:00 to 22:00
[mapa]ul. Ołowianka 1, Gdańsk[/mapa]