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If you look at a map of Poland’s border with the Baltic Sea, a tiny finger points down toward the middle of her coastline. At the very tip of this petite peninsula is the town of Hel. A sleepy, slow-moving beach community replete with high-speed wind and kite surfers skimming across the still Puck Bay during the brief Polish summer.
The majority of venues along the boulevard; Wiejska, peddle amber jewelry or food and drink. This visit took place in early September, postmortem of the holiday season and a perfect time to avoid an inundation of tourism, while absorbing the native culture without compromise.
While many restaurants here offer traditional Polish fare or advertise pizza and ke-bob style dishes, one place stood out while appearing to be most appropriate of sea-side locales.
Admiral Nelson’s was built about 100m from the coast. If the wind blows just right, a scent of the wharf will roll over, a reminder of the sea, and an assurance of the freshness of the fish served there. Owned by long time residents Jakub and Renata Pilecki, the locale offers a wide array of seafood served fried or grilled.
The decor is maritime, relics and icons of seafaring adorn the dark wooden walls. A major likeness of the man himself, Admiral Horatio Nelson of the British Navy dominates one of these walls, his proud likeness approves your patronage. The close-quarters of the dining area is an intimate one, diners seated elbow-to-elbow in sections.
To drink, one must partake a beer entitled, “Viva la Hel!” a musky wheat ale brewed locally and as accompaniment to the vast array of seafood. While Poland is not traditionally known to be a beer producing or consuming country, ale or piwo has been a more popular drink of choice for young adults seeking an alternative to their cultural standard of vodka.
For starters, a spicy, tomato based seafood-soup was served carrying an appropriate amount of spiciness while not being overly fishy. In addition, a fried-crab dish was consumed before a guzzle of ale. This was what sailors must feel like.
For the main course, a two-fish choice was chosen, as the US-Polish currency exchange rate is favorable. (A grilled salmon steak cost roughly $3) And for the fried part of dinner came battered-flounder, a name I always thought sounded tasty. It wasn’t. The flounder was oily and the breading transparent, but owe the inherent quality of the flounder fauna than their culinary standard.
This was clear when sampling a fish perhaps better suited to be battered and fried: the cod or whitefish. The Salmon was incredible. A lemon wedge and some melted butter only made it better, and merely complimented the fresh, flaky flesh, its hue a deep pink.
The establishment was sampled during the day, so the nightlife that occurs at Admiral Nelson’s cannot be noted. While owning an extensive alcohol selection, the numerous antiques and ambiance spoke to an older, more appreciative audience. In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they offered amenities such as three-star rate rooms and even such attractions as sea-diving and fishing.