Restaurant review: Toscanini

24 07 2012

Restaurant Toscanini has received its cheerful and relaxed atmosphere from Tuscany, Italy. There they offer  modern country style kitchen under the Tuscan lilies. Menu is based on the most essential elements of Italian kitchen, such as olive oil, herbs, tomatoes and Tuscan cheeses and cold cuts. In addition, bread is baked daily by restaurants own baker. Means that one gets fresh bread with olive oil and balsamico in the table quite after ordering food.

Location is perfect, almost opposite of Svenska Teatern and Stockmann. Being part of Klaus K hotel means that many of the dining customers also enjoy luxorious hotel premises. Recommend to spend at least one night there. Design hotel with white decoration in the lobby. In the same building there are Finnish gourmet restaurant Ilmatar and Ahjo night club.

Italian a la carte includes familiar italian goodies. Meant that in the nearby table language was italian. Wau, one of the waitresses spoke italian!

For starters enjoyed Lemon and herb flavoured salmon pastrami, poached fennel and Buffalo mozzarella, caramelized tomato, mangold beet and barrel aged balsamico. Salmon pastrami was delicious, coud have eaten double portion. Some problems with poached  fennel as asked it without lactose, got first portion with zucchini. After pointing out, got fresh fennel but not poached, unfortunately. Buffalo mozzarella is always delicious but tomatoes were a little bit difficult to eat. Mangold was chevy, but interesting experience anyway.

Olive oils and balsamico are favourites of Toscanini, can admire their dedication because we are talking about vintage oils.

For main courses ordered Homemade rigatoni with spicy italian sausage and chili flavoured tomato sauce and A whole fried sea bream served with caramelized tomatoes, green beans and spinach. Too few pieces of sausage, otherwise extremely delicious pasta dish. Portion sizes were more close to entrees. Fish was perfect, but little bit over fried, but delicious and enjoyable. Some more please!

For dessert Dolce della casa: Black currant and milk chocolate truffle, espresso and 4 cl Vecchia Romagna and  Lemon sorbet mixed with Prosecco. Italian brandy is as enjoyable as Spanish brandy. Espresso and chocolate are always nice way to end dinner. Lemon sorbet with vodka is our favourite, prosecco served with sorbet was maybe too mild combination.

Toscanini is one of the best Italian restaurants in Helsinki. Visited already Sasso, Tony’s deli and Gastone, some genuine Italian restaurants to visit still…..any suggestions?

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

http://www.toscanini.fi/en/frontpage

http://www.klauskhotel.com/en

Klaus K sponsored Taste of Helsinki and Toscanini was one of the 10 restaurants in the event.





Restaurant review: Kaarna

22 07 2012

Visited restaurant Kaarna second time this year. Last visit was not so succesfull for many reasons, but location and athmosphere attracted again.

http://reijosfood.com/2012/01/

Kaarna Bar & Kitchen is a laid-back Finnish restaurant with a Scandinavian twist. The restaurant opened in April 2009 offers simple and distinct flavours and wide selection of beers of microbreweries. Because of its central location, Forum shopping center, restaurant is easy to find. Its two floors (street bar in ground floor and dining room and “living room” in 2nd floor) offer an atmospheric setting for a longer get-together as well. Restaurant has two entrances, one is by the Mannerheim street and one is in the Forum shopping center on the 2nd floor. This entrance is closed when the shopping center is not open.

From Nordic Tapas (Snapas) list ordered our favourite Kaarna fish plate and Potato waffle, white fish roe and sour cream. Fish plate includes smoked vendace from Kitka, fresh salted salmon, old-fashioned pickled gherkin and sweet and sour rye bread. Always enjoyable and provides good example of traditional Finnish fish foods. White fish roe was delicious as always and especially suited well with potato waffle. Usually roe is served with blinis or toast bread.

For main courses Roasted salmon with false morel sauce and dill-potato bake and Fried white wish with horse radish and melted butter, asparagus and mashed potatoes. Had to send back false morel sauce because of sand/stones. It is very important to wash false morels well, otherwise might be dangerous for teeths. Both fishes were over roasted and fried, however smashed potato was tasty.

Interesting that kitchen uses same red sweet sauce as decoration for every dish.

Restaurant had improved a lot from last visit. Starters earned 4- but main courses downgraded points for food. Because of window table, view and affordable food pricing, overall grade increases.

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

http://www.ravintolakaarna.fi/





Restaurant review: Fiskars Wärdhus

19 07 2012

Established in 1836, Fiskars Wärdshus is the oldest inn in Finland in terms of uninterrupted service. Over the years, all kinds of customers and daily specials have come and gone. In the early days, the typical customers of the inn were often coachmen, who were served good hearty grub. One of their favourites was the traditional lunch dish, pork and brown beans.

Fiskars Wärdshus, also known by its colloquial Finnish name “Wärssy”, is located on the main street of Fiskars Village, on the old King’s Road. The building housing the inn is one in a row of the village’s historic buildings. The most impressive of these is the Manor House, formerly occupied by the owners of the ironworks village. The most prestigious travellers were invited to dine there.

In 1998 the inn got a new proprietor couple, selected from among several candidates, Patrick and Marja Karlsson. Fiskars Village is lively place during it’s opening hours as well as Wärdhus restaurant at lunch time. In the evening it is the only place open as Village closes and looks like deserted neighborhood.

Restaurant in main building serves Scandinavian food designed by Chef Patrick Karlsson. One can dine inside or in the summer at the terrace which is in the front of the building.

For starters ordered Smoked roach mousse with potato crepes and Wärdshus’s country style salad with halloumi. Mousse was excellent and suited well with crepe. Halloumi salad was simple but ok for starter. Only three starters in a la carte list and one in Raseborg menu, understandable for fine dining restaurant in small destination.

For main courses enjoyed Fish of the day which was Whitefish and Finnish marbled sirloin with blue cheese from Peltola cheesery. Whitefish was well prepared and served with polenta and vegetables. Sirloin was ordered from Raseborg menu but it was served with aioli not with blue cheese. After noticing mistake waitress brought separate cup of blue cheese which caused mixed aioli – blue cheese combination, not planned dish. Sirloin was a little bit chewy as beef is too often in Finland if it is not the best fillet available.

For dessert had fresh strawberries. Maybe too full to eat anything else.

Visited Fiskars Wärdhus two years ago and restaurant would have earned then 4,5 for service. This time too many things needed amendment. However, the hotel itself and whole Fiskars Village are worth to see and visit.

One can also find Petris chocolate room in Fiskars, chocolate we enjoyed earlier at restaurant Origo.

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

http://www.wardshus.fi/en/home

http://www.fiskarsvillage.fi/en

http://www.petris.fi/





Restaurant review: Origo

18 07 2012

Restaurant Origo is located in the old ware house from 1893 in the Eastern Harbour of Hanko. The first owner of the building was a businessman and customs worker Martin Lignell. The house was used as a storage room for import and export goods in the early years and was turned in to the restaurant in 1989 after beeing empty for years before. Today the restaurant is owned by a local couple Joanna and Jan Westerling and it is open all the year round. One can usually see Finnish celebrities dining in the restaurant as it it the most famous fine dining place.

Origo with the atmosphere and décor is a unique dining restaurant which with its candles offers memorable moments. Wonder who lights all the candles and when??

When one enters to the restaurant one can see archipelago buffet that is located right in the center of the a la carte room. Have had buffet for starter two times before and can recommend it. One can order it also as main course.

The music bar in the second floor offers dancing hits in the unique clubbing environment. One can also enjoy drinks or dine at terraces.

From the à la carte menu one can find game, lamb and fresh fish from the local estates. First time experienced that tablet PC had replaced printed menu!

This time ordered for starters Scampis Provencale with House bread and Snails with Peltola Blue garlic au gratin and House bread. Scampis were delecious as well as snails. Maybe a little bit stronger taste of blue cheese would have crowned the snail starter.

For main courses had Roasted lavaret with Asparagus, sauce hollandaise, new potatoes pan fried in butter and Roasted Arctic Charr with fried new potatoes, goat cheese and red wine sauce. Lavaret (whitefish) tasted excellent and was roasted with talent, maybe best lavaret this year. Skin was crisp and soft at the same time.

For dessert had Philippe Fontaine Champagne sorbet with strawberries and chocolate. Not too sweet for dessert which is sometimes good. Also enjoyed Hand made small delicacies which have been made in Fiskars by famous chocolate designer Petri.

Two times before Origo has been able to provide steady quality with good service as it did also this time.

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

http://www.restaurant-origo.com/






Restaurant review: Kappeli

14 07 2012

Restaurant Kappeli – “the pearl of Espa” –  was opened to the public 1867 as summer restaurant but since 1970’s it has been open all year round. Latest renowation was in autumn 2011 still keeping same traditions in building structure. In the summer one can also dine at the outside terrace which is at the end of the building behind main terrace. If one wants to sit in the middle of the main terrace but inside, ask for oriel window table for two. It is small but charming and one can even watch bands and singers on stage opposite the restaurant.

A la carte consists of menus honoring famous Finnish artists or writers like Eino Leino, Sibelius and Juhani Aho. It also includes Finnish traditional fish and meat dishes. Wine list is artless and expensive which provides opportunity for the restaurant to improve it. Service needs some experience, forgot to serve us bread and no towel or cloth for Prosecco bottle.

For starters ordered Kappeli’s fish assortment – smoked salmon mousse, cold smoked Baltic herring skagen, smoked whitebait, cold smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and Caesar salad and chicken. Fish assortment was diverse but skagen was too salty.Wonder also why scrambled eggs were included? Caesar salad was as it should be.  Even the chicken was much better than last year, without skin and fresh. Great improvement!

For main courses had Grilled whitefish with spinach, Hollandaise sauce, potatoes with dill, butter and onion and Smoked salmon with creamy false morel sauce, potatoes with dill, 
butter and onion, baked tomato and zucchini. Whitefish was a little bit over grilled but potatoes in their butter onion sauce were excellent in both portions. Salmon was also a little bit too much smoked. Good achievement was that both portions were warm, almost hot.

In the summer the terrace of Kappeli is always crowded. Most of the diners inside were tourists; heard Spanish and German in nearby tables. Because of historical building and athmosphere Kappeli earns 4 as an overall grade.

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

http://www.kappeli.fi/index.php?id=frontpage





What fish to order in Finland?

12 07 2012

Sometimes it might be difficult to order local dishes if you have not tried them before. Meat dishes are easier because cow, pork or lamb are quite similar in each country. When it comes to fish there are more differences, therefore decided to summarize own TOP 5 favourites and one local shellfish.

1. Whitefish or Lavaret (Siika)

Whitefish or sometimes lavaret is number one favourite. If it is available in the restaurant, order it. For starter marinated whitefish is excellent choice, better than marinated salmon. For main course either roasted or fried, this non greasy white colored fish is delicious if properly prepared. It might be over roasted but fish restaurants know what they do. Whitefish roe is also tasty and again better than rainbow trout’s. Restaurants like Teatterin Grilli and Salutorget serve excellent portions. In Kappeli fish was over grilled at least when dined on 13 th July.

2. Pike perch (Kuha)

Pike perch is one of the most expensive Finnish fishes. Meat is white and soft and tastes best when it is roasted or fried. Pike perch even suits for preparing sushi because it can be quite big fish. Pike perch will be familiar to you if you have eaten Mediterranean white meated bigger fisheses, like sea bass. Pictures are from restaurants Havis and Kielo. Havis focuses on sea food as well as Fishmarket.

3. Perch (Ahven)

Perch is most common fish in Finland and also our national fish. Meat is white and tasty. Main issue is amount of small fishbones. But if you are in a restaurant which can prepare perch properly it is worth to order, e.g in restaurants Havis  and Blue Peter (pictures). Meat of perch looks like meat of small sea bass.

4. Arctic char (Nieriä or Rautu)

Arctic char is close to rainbow trout or even salmon. Meat is very lightly reddish and and little bit greasy. It is very popular and affordable fish and very often available in most restaurants. Main issue is over roasting but again good restaurants know how to prepare it. Pictures are from restaurants Gastone and Royal Line cruise boat.

5. Rainbow trout (Kirjolohi)

If you see rainbow trout in a la carte list suggest to order it. It is quite rare and mostly restaurants offer salmon which is available in many coutries. Meat of rainbow trout is light red and greasy but not as greasy as salmon. Both can be prepared as roasted, fried but also baked in oven. It is quite common to serve salmon with morel sauce as Kappeli does. Unfortunately have only pictures of salmon.

There are also some regional fish dishes which you might be able to see also in Helsinki. For instance  Vendace (Muikku) is delicious even without side dishes if fried in salty butter. Mostly sold at market squares but also available in some traditional restaurants. Burbot (Made) is sometimes used in soups. Be curious and order someting else than salmon or frozen imported fish.

X. Crayfish and Signal crayfish (Jokirapu and Täplärapu)

If you visit Finland between 21st July and end of October, you must try crayfish (crawfish, spiny lobster), most popular shellfish in Finland. Many restaurants have crayfish menu’s. Although they are expensive, escpecially signal crayfishes, which have been imported from North America to Finland in 1960’s, you can also order them as a starter (usually 5-6) and enjoy hilarious athmosphere. If crayfish is really cheap make sure it is Finnish, it might have been imported as frozen.

Bon Appetit!

Summary of Finnish fishes: http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kalat/





Restaurant review: Pirate Helsinki

6 07 2012

Restaurant Pirate Helsinki operates in Southern Helsinki. First Pirate restaurant was established in Hanko and it serves also pizzas. Helsinki restaurant tries to be more sophisticated as it is part of Sinbad boat club. You have to order food from the bar because there is no table service. Therefore restaurant is also more affordable than some others. Pirate is a summer restaurant but it is open in December providing ambitious Christmas lunch with famous chefs like Hans Välimäki.

For starters ordered Prawns roasted with garlic and lime-aioli and  Toast Skagen with roe. Prawns were excellent, roasted perfectly and almost sweet.  Roe was whitefish roe which is much better than rainbow trout roe which you might get, if type of roe is not mentioned in the menu. In overall, starters were best part of the dinner and close to fine dining although Pirate is quite rough boat club restaurant.

For main course ordered Fried pike-perch with horsedarish crinkle potatoes and morel mushroom sauce and Pirate hamburger. Fish was like home made but sauce was delicious. Meat of hamburger was disappoitment, close to frozen tv dinner beef. French fries were crisp and enough salty. In overall quite simple hamburger portion.

REVIEW: FOOD 3+/5 – SERVICE 3,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 3+/5

If you visit Hanko some day, try Pirate because it is quite popular in the summer.

http://www.pirate.fi/?pinc=1&lng=helsinki








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