Oh wow. I’m no burger connoisseur, but I know when I eat an excellent burger and Roslund Meatshop in the Hietalahden Market Hall in the south-west of Helsinki city sure does serve up an excellent burger! Their burgers were recommended to me by James, a former colleague who knows Helsinki very well after many visits over many years – the first as an exchange student in his teens.
Helsinki as a city is on the smaller side and therefore very walkable but Hietalahden Market Hall is a little bit out of way. Expect to walk for about twenty minutes from Senate Square before you get there. It’s very unprepossessing from the outside but don’t let that fool you – there’s a wealth of dining (and food shopping) options inside in addition to Roslund Meatshop.
Roslund is definitely the location that everyone flocks to though. While most of the other eateries had one or two people dining in at the time we went (3pm is not exactly peak traffic time!), Roslund was dealing with a queue of more than fifteen young, cool, hipster locals looking for their afternoon burger fix.
The menu is simple. Burgers are the specialty but they also offer other items from their deli counter including pastrami sandwiches, pulled pork, ribs, and steaks. We ordered two of the burgers, but shied away from trying the third – a bearburger using Finnish bear meat mince. After an unpleasant experience with reindeer meat the day before, we weren’t quite adventurous enough to try bear meat!
After placing and paying for our order (thank god for Finns and their fluent English!), we decided to take a seat on the counter rather than upstairs in their dining area, so that we would have a better view of the open kitchen. We watched the line cook shape the freshly ground local beef into burger patties by hand before slapping them onto the grill and placing a thick slice of cheddar cheese on top to melt.
From here, it’s interesting to note that the burgers aren’t cooked and finished on the grill – they’re taken off the grill just as they’ve got that delicious smoky flavour, placed on a tray, and then finished off in a commercial oven so as to keep the juices in the burger.
This attention to detail certainly pays off! The first burger we ordered was the house Rosburger, described as ‘100% Finnish beef mince, spicy Russian dressing, coleslaw, pickled cucumbers, 12 month matured cheddar cheese and bacon’, with an additional serve of chips on the side. This is not a burger you can pick up and eat easily with your hands. I made the mistake of trying, and was rewarded with a mixture of dressing and burger juices running down my hands and arms. Roslund don’t expect you to eat it with your hands – just grab some cutlery and do your best to get an even mouthful of one of the freshest and tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.
If you’re not quite ready to tackle the behemoth that is the Rosburger, why not try a simpler Cheeseburger? It’s essentially the same burger as the Rosburger but without the coleslaw and bacon, making it a more manageable size. I do recommend ordering a side salad with the cheeseburger though – not only for the sake of having some vegetables, but because the creamy vinaigrette dressing served with the salad is actually extremely delicious, and a great counterpart to the spicy dressing in the burger.
Roslund’s burgers have all the right ingredients – freshly ground beef (or bear!) straight from the deli, soft brioche buns, the best melted cheese, tangy spicy sauce, and most importantly, a reverence for cooking meat the right way. They don’t kill the cow a second time by overcooking the burger on the grill, they leave it there just long enough to enhance the flavour before finishing it off in the oven. If you’re looking for a great burger in Helsinki – this is the place to go.
Roslund Meatshop is located in Hietalahden kauppahalli on Lönnrotinkatu in Helsinki.