Restaurant review: Töölönranta – city terrace surrounded by nature

27 07 2014

Töölönranta terrace - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Töölönranta combines the distinctively natural Helsinki landscape with a restaurant atmosphere. The contemporary Finnish architecture and design, surrounded by the unique landscape of Töölönlahti bay and park, makes restaurant an oasis almost in the center of city. Especially dining at the terrace is relaxing experience. Bar area has been developed to lounge type of port of call with soft lounge music.

Got the table under the awning which is more convenient place that sitting under the trees. For aperitives ordered glasses of Freixenet Mia Rose wine, which should have been more chilled as the wine is medium dry. You also get some foccacia bread to the table after you place the order.

Rose wine and foccacia at Töölönranta - reijosfood.com

For starters we had Seared king prawns with fennel and TASTES Sesame salmon with dill mayonnaise, King prawn with fennel and Cured beef with rocket lettuce and parmesan.

Prawns were really scrumptious and fennel paired with them perfectly. A little bit less salt and portion would have been bull’s eye.

You could pick three different tapas size of portions from six options if you choose TASTES as starter. When it says king prawn, there is really only one king prawn but prepared same way as first starter. Sesame salmon was also excellent as well as cured beef. Maybe the pieces of meat could have been thinner.

Shrimps at Töölönranta - reijosfood.comTastes starter at Töölönranta - reijosfood.com

In Finnish restaurant you must choose fishes if you have not already done so. For main courses we chose Lightly smoked salmon warm potato salad and creamed morels and Chargrilled lavaret with spring vegetables and new potatoes, Beurre blanc sauce.

Salmon was tasty with potato salad. Found some sand in morels which is not so nice when you bite them. Luckily only one time.

Lavaret or whitefish is propably most common fish in the summer time at Finnish restaurants and it always tastes good. Simple portion with potatoes is like Finnish summer.

Salmon at Töölönranta - reijosfood.comLavaret at Töölönranta - reijosfood.com

For desserts Fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream and Ice cream portion.

Finnish strawberries are delicious but these are the last days to get freshly picked ones. And when it is warm summer, what suits better than ice-cream? Chose tiger ice-cream which has hint of orange taste.

Strawberries at Töölönranta - reijosfood.comIce cream at Töölönranta - reijosfood.com

Wine list is fairly short and chose Printz von Hessen which has quite typical young riesling aromas and taste.

Riesling at Töölönranta - reijosfood.com

Portions are elegantly laid out and tasty. Several waitresses serve you, there does not seem to be named tables for them.

But best of Töölönranta is the terrace which has excellent location surrounded by nature but so close to the center of city. While walking to the restaurant you can admire cultural buildings like Helsinki Music Hall, Finlandia House and Opera House and at the same time observe birds enjoying of Töölönlahti bay.

Töölönlahti - reijosfood.comTöölönranta terrace - reijosfood.com

Töölönranta terrace - reijosfood.comTöölönranta - reijosfood.com

And at lounge bar you can enjoy aperitives, digestives or just cold drinks in order to relax and make your day perfect.

Töölönranta lounge - reijosfood.com

Good reasons to give high overall grade. Of course dining inside is also enjoyable because of large windows but prefer terrace in the summer.

REVIEW: FOOD 4/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5

 

 





Restaurant review: PureBistro – hidden terrace in Torikorttelit blocks

25 07 2014

Pol Roger Champagne at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

PureBistro is a modern bistro with hidden terrace next to the Market Square in Torikorttelit blocks.  Restaurant is owned by Michelin star restaurant Luomo (on the 2nd floor) chef”s Jouni Toivanen and Mika Mattila. That explains partly why PureBistro is one of the five Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants in Helsinki.

PureBistro entrance - reijosfood.com

Dining room at PureBistro is quite small and therefore in the summer time you might decide to dine outside, which we did as temperature was close to 30C degrees. The entrance to the terrace is either through restaurant or gateway which is in Katariinankatu. There are only about 30 seats at the terrace, therefore better arrive early because restaurant does not take reservations there.

PureBistro terrace - reijosfood.com

If you dine inside, ask for window table and you can enjoy sea view and observe bustle at the Market Square.

PureBistro and Market Square - reijosfood.com

Restaurant used to have 3 course dinner at the price of 45€. But not this time! Maybe PureBistro wants to utilize high tourist season and not offer any special prices if you eat starter, main course and dessert. Many fine dining bistros are closed at the moment, that might be another reason to cash in. On the other hand prices are reasonable compared to food quality.

Because of excellent weather had to start the dinner with Champagne, Pol Roger Extra Brut. To be honest, too dry for us.

Pol Roger Extra Brut - reijosfood.com

After placing order you will get fresh bread paper bag on the table. I am sure that you will eat every piece of bread, they are so tasty.

For starters we ordered RAINBOWTROUT WITH TRADITIONAL FINNISH SALAD and BARBEQUE PORK “JAPANESE STYLE”

Trout confit was slightly cooked but so little that it made us wonder how it was prepared. One change was made; “scrambled eggs” replaced dill-potato salad because it included some milk. Pork was as it would have been prepared in qenuine Asian restaurant. It included miso, teriayaki sauce and mushrooms. PureBistro usualluy have one or two portions available with Asian flavors.

Rainbow trout at PureBistro - reijosfood.comPork at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

For main courses we had two times PAN FRIED PEARCH, CHANTERELLES AND CRAYFISH- POTATO TERRINE but two different versions of it.

First picture is portion without any changes. Perfectly fried small pearch pieces were delicious. No single fish bones although perch is one of the most difficult fishes to remove them. Sweet fennel supplemented the taste of chanterellers. Ingredients which included milk were replaced with turnips and oil dressing. Have not ever before tasted roasted turnips but will definately try them at home.

Perch at PureBistro - reijosfood.comPerch at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

For desserts we ordered STRAWBERRYMILK” and CHEESEs.

“Milk” in the first dessert was replaced with strawberry sorbet and sauce. Again excellent example of kitchen’s creativeness and competence to take account of food allergies. Cheeses were tasty as expected. Especially Comte paired well with jam.

Strawberry dessert at PureBistro - reijosfood.comCheeses at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

For wine we had Tesch 1 Liter Riesling, only riesling on wine list. Wine paired well with all dishes we had; well, maybe not with desserts. Dry, about 6 g/l sugar, balanced acidity and minerality. If you prefer vintage wines you could also order from restaurant Luomo’s wine list.  

With coffee and tea had to try “soft” Jacopo Poli Grappa di Sassicaia Elevata in Barili. Not basic grappa, more like real dessert “wine”.

Waiter left the bottle on our table so that we could study it more detailed. Label on the backside of the bottle told that Grappa had been matured in Sassicaia barrels and it was made mainly from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Savignon grapes.

Grappa at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

PureBistro is genuine Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant and actually one of the first fine dining bistro type of restaurants in Helsinki. Chef’s at the kitchen create flexibly excellent portions and menu changes regularly.

If weather is suitable, you must try the terrace where you can dine in restful and relaxed athmosphere.

Previous PureBistro reviews can be found by using search.

REVIEW: FOOD 4,5/5 – SERVICE 4+/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5





Restaurant review: Pöllöwaari (Jyväskylä)

22 07 2014

Riesling at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.com

Boutique hotel Yöpuu in Jyväskylä, Finland is located in historic building which was built 1928. In the same building operates fine dining restaurant Pöllöwaari, where we dined during our stay at the hotel.

Restaurant has two dining hall’s and private cabinets. You could also eat at the small terrace outside.

Pöllöwaari dining room - reijosfood.comPöllöwaari terrace - reijosfood.com

Restaurant concept includes Winebar, where we tasted some wines a year ago. Great experience (http://reijosfood.com/2013/08/08/wine-tasting-without-advance-booking/). Nice “after taste” from that visit was the reason, why we decided to stay in this privately owned hotel instead of chain ones (hotel review coming later).

You could enjoy one of the three tasting menus like “Tour of the land” or “Voyage of the senses” depending on how many portions you would like to eat.

We ordered from a la carte list first starters and main courses.  The dinner started with delicious greetings from the kitchen. As you can see from the cover plate, restaurant uses Iittala “Taika” set of dishes.

Iittala Taika plate at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.com

Kitchen's greetings at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.com

For starters we ordered Whitefish & black currant with cucumber and sour cream and Lobster & cherry tomato with pumpkin seed and chervil.

Take a look at those portions, like art?! Whitefish had been colored with blueberry and taste of berries was perfect with black currant. There was also whitefish roe on the plate which is one of the best Finnish roes.

Warm lobster made another starter extravagant and it it really tasted like it. There was also lobster inside warm croquet. One of the best starters ever eaten.

Whitefish starter at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.comLobster starter at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.com

Main courses were Pike-perch & potato with celery, pea and lemon and Flounder & scallop with orange, sea sorrel and sparkling wine.

Pöllöwaari had not been able to get fresh pike-perch and it served whitefish instead. Lemon was actually hollandaise sauce which was excellent. Whitefish was a little bit overcooked but fish skin was eatable as it was enough crispy.

Sea sorrel is rare side dish and new for us.  Portion included quite a lot cauliflower which was not mentioned in the name of dish. Should have because the amount of it was 10 times more than sea sorrel. Disussed about that with head waitress, but maybe she did not understand our message. Scallop was fried as it should be, not overcooked.

Whitefish at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.comFish at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.com

For desserts we ordered Cranberry & blond chocolate with rye and rosemary and Lemon & meringue with limoncello and curd.

Cranberry mousse seems to smile waiting for someone to eat it. Half sweet, 1/4 salty and 1/4 bitter; excellent combination. Lemon dessert was scrumptious, not much more to say.

Dessert at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.comDessert at Pöllöwaari - reijosfood.com

Restaurant uses lot’s of herbs. At the terrace there are boxes chef’s visit regularly. A proofpoint of fresh herbs chef’s grow by themselves.

Herbs at Pöllöwaari terrace - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Pöllöwaari is fine dining restaurant worth to try. Most of the portion names follow the trend; two main food ingredients named. Usually no more explantions but Pöllöwaari tried to give some more information by mentioning 2-3 other ingredients. This is difficult because you can not not name all but they should be well chosen. The discussion about sea morrel and cauliflower was one example.

Service was precious, maybe a little bit rigid. When dishes were brought to the table, contents were explained precisely.

From wine list, which included excellent cellar wines, we chose Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru Kessler 2008. Golden yellow aromatic wine which paired well with fish dishes. Unfortunately not available Alko’s regarding to waitress.

REVIEW: FOOD 4,5/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5

http://www.hotelliyopuu.fi/en/3/2/Restaurant

 





Wine review: Verrocchio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2012 – wrong vintage

18 07 2014

Valpolicella Ripasso - reijosfodo.com

If you want to buy wines in Finland you have to go to Alko, which is monopoly company owned by Finnish government. Nowadays you can utilize web shops, if you pay Finnish alcohol tax for your purchases.

When visiting Alko I usually read carefully what is written on the labels explaining if the wine is dry, full-bodied and so on. I chose Italian red wine Verrocchio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2012 partly based on the information of it’s label on wine cabinet. This visit was about 2 months ago.

The label said that wine should have medium tannins. I am not a fan of wines which include too much tannins because they are just too “hard” to be enjoyed. But information on the label was based on vintage 2011 and purchased wine had changed to 2012. On the label there was nothing about vintage. Because of amount of tannins had to check what Alko said on their web Pages about the wine. Same story from year 2011!

When checking again few days ago, vintage had been changed to 2012 at Alko web page. But still story about medium tannins…..

Wine is made from grapes Corvina and Rondinella. Typical Ripasso grapes.

THE LOOK

Dark red, some hints of brown color.

THE NOSE

Ripasso type, but you can already notice the tannins.

THE TASTE

For me, lot’s of tannins, full-bodied, dark berries, warm.

Valpolicella Ripasso- reijosfood.com

Facts:

Alcohol:      13,50 %
Extract:      36 g/l
Acidity:       5,3 g/l
Sugar:         6 g/l
Energy:       90 kcal / 100 ml (370 kJ / 100 ml)

Ripasso, the younger brother or sister of Amarone, is excellent wine for every ocation. Suits for all meats and of course with Italian food.

Unfortunately misleading (old) information did not make this tasting as pleasant as it could be. Therefore only 3,5. Would like to try vintage 2011 to see if the label at Alko was right about year older Ripasso.

REVIEW: OVERALL GRADE 3,5/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++/+++





Restaurant review: Valo (Savonlinna)

17 07 2014

Savonlinna is an active and vibrant summertime town in Finland. The town itself and its surroundings are one of the most popular holiday regions in Finland. Beside enjoying the opera, admire the breathtaking scenery in and around the town, have a giggle at some of the eccentric local events, and listen to the legends associated with the historical sites.

Savonlinna Castle - reijosfood.com

Dined at restaurant Valo (in English Light) the fourth year in a row, is it becoming a habit? No it will not, read futher…..Other 2 reviews can be found by using search and writing Valo.

Valo in Savonlinna - reijosfood.com

Because one has to dine outside in order to be able observe opera guests walking to Savonlinna castle 200 meters from Valo restaurant by Saimaa lake, it would be important to have a good weather. In Valo one can also just have a drink at the forefront bar and do the same.

Restaurant Valo - reijosfood.com

Restaurant serves local Finnish food, evidence for that used to be the names of local producers on the a la carte list. This year the names of local producers had almost vanished. Reason? Many local residents and summer vacationers had pizza which seems to be quite nice looking. We decided to keep up traditions and order form a la carte list. But in the future….

For starters we ordered Salmon & dill Sugar and salt-cured salmon, fennel salad, dill maynonnaise and potato crisps and Snails.

Nice looking small fish portion was a little bit too salty. It included two potato chips. I would not mention those in explanation of portion. Snails were soft with lot’s of smelted butter.

Salmon starter at Valo - reijosfood.com

Escargots at Valo - reijosfood.com

Main courses were this time Trout Pan fried trout fillet,warm new potato salad with crab sauce and Fish of the day from Saimaa with trimmings of the day.

Kitchen made some changes to trout portion as we requested them, which was  proofpoint of customer service. But amazing was that waiter said that fish of the day should be pike-perch but we got Arctic char! That kind of mistake we have not seen for a long time.

Unfortunately both fishes were over fried and therefore dry.

Fish at Valo - reijosfood.comFish at Valo - reijosfood.com

For desserts we had after long discussion with waitress Chocolate cake and Berries.

Berries were not on the list but as there were no lactose-free desserts, berries were only ones kitchen could serve. Delicious chocolate cake included same berries as well as vanilla ice-cream.

Chocolate dessert at Valo - reijosfood.comBerries at Valo - reijosfood.com

For wine we had rose because only riesling on the wine list was too light and without any riesling character.

Rose wine at Valo - reijosfood.com

Next time when or if we dine at Valo we try pizza. Small and therefore over priced portions (but it is opera month) do not earn more than 3. Location and terrace increase overall grade.

The problem with Savonlinna restaurant scene has, is the lack of small privately own Finnish restaurants. Most in the center of town are owned nowadays by S-Group co-operative company. But it is difficult to keep up restaurant business, if there are customers only during summer months.

REVIEW: FOOD 3/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4/5

http://www.savonmafia.fi/products/product/82/

 





Restaurant review: La Bottega (Tallinn, Estonia)

16 07 2014

Trattoria La Bottega offers a cross-section of the Italian cuisine, with a special emphasis on Italian food and wines consistency. Sardinian origin chef Nicolo Tanda favorites, fish and seafood are represented in restaurants menu.

La Bottega is part of Sparkling Group which owns several fine dining restaurants in Tallinn.

In Italian restaurant you must start the dinner with aperitivo. As Aperol Spritz was not available, we enjoyed Campari Soda’s.

Campari Soda's at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

For starters we ordered Antipasti and Prawn tails in spicy fresh tomato sauce and grilled focaccia.

Antipasti plate was generous including salami, Parma ham, eggplant, bruschetta,…..one of the biggest antipasti portions seen for a while. Tomato sauce with prawn tails was really scrumptious. It could have been used as pasta sauce, on top of a pizza or even to be eaten as such. Best flavor kitchen servedduring our visit.

Antipasti at La Bottega - reijosfood.comPrawn tails at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Primi Piatti, or actually pasta, Spaghetti with garlic oil and chilli and Tomato salad with mozzarella buffalo cheese.

Had to order pasta in order to try how kitchen manages. And it managed well; spaghetti was al dente and garlic and chilli tasted nicely. As restaurant does not serve gluten-free pasta ordered caprese salad (tomato and mozzarella) for another Primi Piatti. Genuine Italian mozzarella di bufala beats cheeses made of cow milk.

Spaghetti at La Bottega - reijosfood.comMozzarella and tomato at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Main courses this time were Herb marinated quail with oven baked eggplant and Braised rabbit in white wine and olive sauce, potato-spinach puree.

As La Bottega had quite challenging and rare meats on it’s a la carte list, had to try couple of them.

Two small quial legs made us mention to waitress that portion should be starter. The answer was separate side dishes are because of that. You have to choose them with certain portions. We had ordered two side dishes; Baked aubergine with garlic and parsley and Rucola and tomato salad. Unfortunately quail legs were also a little bit dry and should have been starters, with or without side dish.

Rabbit included side dish but rucola salad paired nicely with it. Meat was overdone, otherwise it tasted like rabbit should be.

Quail at La Bottega - reijosfood.comRabbit at La Bottega - reijosfood.comSide dishes at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Wine list consists only of Italian wines. We chose Gavi di Gavi Fossili which paired well with all dishes. The dinner was finalized with Italian digestives, Grappa and Limoncello, of course. Taste of lemon was quite thin in Limencello and the color was not so deep yellow as it should be.

Espresso and grappa at La Bottega - reijosfood.comGreen tee and Limocello at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Dining rooms are cozy and first one behind entrance is really high in old historic building. We arrived so early that dinner time had not yet started.

La Bottega dining room - reijosfood.com

If weather allows you can also have lunch at the terrace; why not even dinner if evening is warm. Terrace is also perfect place to observe by-passers and other terraces close to La Bottega‘s one.

La Bottega terrace - reijosfood.com

La Bottega is good Italian restaurant with ambitious menu. No pizza’s which of course prune customer base. But you get a chance to eat in more peaceful athmosphere than in many pizzeria/trattoria type of restaurants in Old Town. When it comes to food, would classify La Bottega as ristorante but based on decor more trattoria type.

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

http://labottega.ee/





Restaurant review: Chedi (Tallinn, Estonia)

13 07 2014

Chedi starters - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Chedi is a contemporary treatment of Asian food culture. Contrasts, combination of tastes and mixture different raw materials are where the contemporary Asian cuisine is heading at. Chedi location is in Old Town, which is one of food culture areas in Tallinn.

Next to Chedi is another Sparkling Group restaurant Bocca (review 02.02.2013, use search at reijosfood)

Chedi - reijosfood.com

For several years Chedi has been chosen in TOP 5 of best restaurants of Estonia. The reason we decided to visit there and of course our penchant for Asian cuisine.

Started the dinner with Small eat’s Dim sum platter with mushrooms and vegetable, Fried soft shell crab with red chilli and curry leaves and Jasmine tea smoked pork ribs.

Dim sums were great, especially the red ones. Soft shell crabs were also delicious but maybe the taste of crabs disappeared under frying. Pork ribs were one of the best ever eaten. But this is maybe because never before have tasted Jasmine tee smoked ribs.

Dim Sum at Chedi - reijosfood.comSof shell crabs at Chedi - reijosfood.comPork ribs at Chedi - reijosfood.com

For main courses we chose Grilled salmon in Chef ’s special sauce and Spicy prawns with water chestnut, chilli and almonds. For side dish restaurant served rice in wooden bowl. Would have ordered Thai style pike-perch but restaurant had not got any pike-perch fish.

Waitress asked if the salmon shoud be medium or well-done. This was a proof that kitchen knew what to do with salmon. Ordered medium, got it and enjoyed.

Spicy prawns were not enough spicy although there was lot’s of curry. Luckily we had asked extra spices which we used with every portion. However, prawns were excellent.

Salmon at Chedi - reijosfood.comPrawns at Chedi - reijosfood.comRice at Chedi - reijosfood.com

For desserts we just had green tea and coffee due to the fact that our stomachs were almost filled with three hors d’oeuvres.

Chedi dining room - reijosfood.com

Chedi is a restaurant worth to visit in Tallinn, if you like Asian food. Decor is stylistic with buddhist features. You have to be ready to eat with sticks and spoon which are used instead of fork and knife. Of even with fingers, if it is easier. You do not have to worry about smearing your fingers because you can wash them afterwards and dry them thoroughly with hand cloth.

Chedi table - reijosfood.com

REVIEW: FOOD 4,5/5 – SERVICE 4+/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5

http://chedi.ee/en/

 

 








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