Restaurant review: El Meson de Cervantes – Malaga; Spain

17 09 2014

Cava at Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

El Meson de Cervantes  is located at the backyards of old town at Calle Alamos. It was established by the same chef, who owns El Tapeo de Cervantes just 50 meters away from Meson. The main difference with the restaurants is the dining room with normal tables and chairs, which Meson has but Tapeo does not have.

Visited El Meson de Cervantes 2nd time this year. Previous review can be found by using search.

El Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Main allurement are tapas which you can order in three different sizes; tapas, 1/2 raciones or full raciones. You could also choose from restaurant menu different type of starters, main courses and desserts but menu is quite short. If you want to eat tapas at the dining room, you need to ask them in a polite way, although waiter might say that they are meant to eat at the bar.

Started the dinner with glass of cavas and tasty, salty green olives.

This time we ordered all dishes from restaurant menu. Actually most of the dishes are the same. Our dinner started with Warm salad of tuna, roasted peppers and green leaves and Pan seared small squids with spinach.

Tuna was perfectly fried as you can see in the picture below, not too well-done; therefore not too dry. This portion is not so typical for tapas restaurant, it is an example of the high quality level of el Meson de Cervantes.

Squids were best part of the dinner, perfect cooking on the pan and olive oil complemented nicely the flavor of two different squids. Recommend to order this starter, if you visit the restaurant.

Tuna salad - reijosfood.com

Squids at Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

First main courses were fishes, 1/2 portions of Salmon with herb butter, black rice and a chick pea pyre and Sea bream wrapped in aubergine, carrot pyre and juniper sauce.

Well prepared portions both of them. Salmon was maybe a little bit over cooked but side dish delicious. Sea bream paired nicely with aubergine and carrot pyre was scrumptious. If I would have to choose, would take Sea bream as big main course only.

Salmon at Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Sea bream at Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

For 2nd main courses we had 1/2 portions of Argentinian entrecote with fried potatoes, salad and chimichurri and Wild boar stew with sweet Malaga wine sauce and crispy rosti. 

Entrecote was well-done as requested.

But stew was not the same at all as last time. Found no wine in the sauce and taste was more like standard brown sauce. See the difference, picture on the left was from May and on the right taken few days ago. If we would have been served similar stew, grade for food would have been 0,25 points more.

Entrecote at Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Wild board stew at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comLamb stew at Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Dinner ended with Apple tart and vanilla ice-cream which was bull’s eye again. Difficult to beat warm, sweet and soft apple pie with cold ice-cream….

Also Fig flan of sweet Malaga wine was tasty, but maybe a little bit too sweet.

Apple pie - reijosfood.com

Fig dessert - reijosfood.com

For wine we asked waitress to recommend some rose wine. There were actually three rose wines on wine list from which to choose, but after looking us, she brought us a bottle which was not on the list.

And good that she brought, because it was more full-bodied and darker than rose wines usually are. Wine was Barbazul from Huerta de Albalá, which is a recently created winery located in the province of Cadiz. As it is produced from Syrah grapes, quite dark red color is easily to be explained.

Barbazul rose - reijosfood.com

El Meson de Cervantes serves premium tapas and Spanish food in a relaxed athmosphere. If you decide to dine at restaurant, you can watch chef’s preparing portions in the open kitchen. You can also eat in more restful environment and enjoy to be served by professional waiters.

Tapas bar provides opportunity for close social interaction and eating at higher bar tables.

Restaurant is the place to visit out of hundreds of tapas bars and restaurants in Malaga, if you travel there. Hope the menu will be changed, because it was exactly the same as 4 months ago, as far as I remember. There are not so many dishes to choose from the menu.

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

http://www.elmesondecervantes.com/eng/index.html

 





Restaurant review: Vino Mio – Flamenco in Malaga, Spain

11 09 2014

Restaurante Vino Mío is famous for its Flamenco shows since 2003. The shows are performed by Andalucian Flamenco artists and can include audience participation.

Restaurant is located at a small plaza across from Teatro Cervantes and near pedestrian district.

Restaurante Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

Menu is not traditional Spanish, which you might expect from Flamenco restaurant. Asian flavors, wok’s and pasta come from other countries but mainly not from Spain.

There is Tapas menu available which has more Spanish type of apetizers, if you do not count humus and cous cous to them. However, tapas menu was not served during the show, but we managed to order one starter from it.

Aqua con gas was Perrier, not Spanish. Bread with olive tapenade was delicious, best part of the kitchen.

Perrier at Vino Mio - reijosfood.comBread at Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

While watching flamenco with 4€ extra charge per person, we had for starters Bolsitas Crujientes (2) King prawns and vegetables wrapped up in a crispy filo parcel accompanied by tomato and oregano jam and from Tapas menu Surtido Cervantes Queso manchego, salchichon iberico y chorizo iberico.

As menu explained, ingredients were inside of filo parcel. Basically ok portion but required a little bit more flavor for instance by adding some chili.

Starter at Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

Assortment of Spanish apetizers consisted of manchego cheese and two types of sausages. Basic and delicious pieces of Spanish cuisine. Chorizo pieces were soft which was pleasant surprise, because they can usually be quite thick and difficult to chew.

Tapas at Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

For main courses ordered Wok Bangok Chicken chunks stir fried with fresh vegetables and finished with Thai sweet & sour sauce served with rice and Sate Bali Indonesian marinated chicken breast served with rice, prawn crackers and a peanut sauce.

Not so typical names for portions at flamenco restaurant in Spain?

Chicken skewer in sate sauce was excellent, simple but tasty. Wok Bangok unfortunately did not meet expectations, vegetables dominated too much.

Wok Bangok - reijosfood.com

Sate Bali - reijosfood.com

Flamenco show is presented at 20.00 – 21.30, which is quite early for locals. Most of the customers were tourists but Wednesday did not seemed to be busiest evening.

At the end of the show dancer picked few customers to join flamenco dance which was the funniest part of the show. Imagine yourself repeating the same steps and moves as professional dancer….

Flamenco at Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

Flamenco dancer at Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

For wine we had L’Hereu cava from Raventos i Blanc in Penedes region. Main grape is Macabeu 45%, but also Xarel.lo and Parellada are used in production. Wineyard has produced wines since 1497, which is also mentioned on the label of the bottle.

Cava at Vino Mio - reijosfood.com

If you would like to see Flamenco for the first time, Vino Mio is the right place. Athmosphere is relaxed, guitar is played well and flamenco shouts and screaming are creditable.

Main think is not the food, but anyone can find something from the menu.

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

Restaurant Vino Mio Malaga, Vino Mio Malaga, Malaga Restaurant, Flamenco Restaurant Malaga, Vino Mio Flamenco Restaurant Malaga, Bino Mio Malaga, Vino Mio Restaurant in Malaga Centre,

 

 





Wine review: Brangelina rose – Château Miraval Côtes de Provence rosé

30 08 2014

Brangelina rose  - reijosfood.com

Miraval is the new wine business venture of actor and actresses Brad Pitt with Angelina Jolie in association with the famous Perrin family of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The first 6,000-bottle run sold out within five hours. And hullabaloo continued when Wine Spectator ranked Château Miraval Côtes de Provence rosé as best rose wine 2013.

Grapes used in production are Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle and Syrah. Quite extraordinary combination, wine would not look like rose without Syrah.

We were able to taste this “jewel” at restaurant Demo, as it was one of the wines paired with foods in the menu. With reindeer and beetroot this rose wine matched well because portion was partly salty and partly sweet. I was wondering, if red wine would have suited better, but maybe not because of sweetness of beetroot.

Raindeer at Demo - reijosfood.com

THE LOOK

Looking at the packaging, it looks basically champagne bottle, close to Ruinart which was previously tasted

The color is kind of like fluorescent, light pale pink. If you would see this without knowing which wine is concerned, you might think that someone has added water to red wine

THE NOSE

Wild strawberries and/or raspberry, more like a mild candy

THE TASTE

Fresh fruits aromas, a refreshing acidity but palate is mild compared to most rose wines

Facts:

Alcohol: 13.00 %
Extract: 21 g/l
Acidity: 5.4 g/l
Energy: 80 kcal / 100 ml (340 kJ / 100 ml)

 

Chateau Miraval rose - reijosfood.com

Would I buy this wine, if it would happen to appear in our Alko. Perhaps yes, because I did not first believe, that it would suit for reindeer. But this is summer wine and in the winter would prefer stronger rose.

Actually you can buy it from Alko Arkadia; there are still some bottles left from 120 batch Alko had purchased.

REVIEW: OVERALL GRADE 4-/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++/+++

Miraval Provence

All Lists of Top 100 Wines | Top 100 of 2013 | Wine Spectator





Restaurant review: Salutorget – Scandinavian bistro

19 08 2014

 

Riesling at Salutorget - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Salutorget includes  stylish dining room (not bistro type), bar/cafe  and terrace. Restaurant serves lunch and dinner but also brunch on Sundays. Salutorget is located close to Kauppatori (Salutorget in Swedish and  Market Square in English), which is the most known market or plaza in Helsinki.

You can see that there has been financial institutions operating in the same building earlier as rest rooms are in old bank vault. At least there you are in safe. Place has been renovated with craftmanship; 1800’s construction and pillars create a dignified athmosphere.

Menu consists of traditional Finnish and Scandinavian dishes, nothing fancy.  If you are keen on tasting them, like Baltic herrings, Whitefish, Reindeer or even Vendaces, then you are in the right place.

For starters we chose Salutorget’s small fishes (3pc): Shrimps á la Skagen, Cold smoked white fish with dill creme and Smoked salmon and creme fraiche with Dijon and Salad with broiled salmon; broiled salmon, egg, asparagus and mustard sauce

Taste and look of small fishes was ok but expected a little bit more from shrimps. Maybe they match with toast better than as separate dish. Belive that some ingredients had been forgotten from mustard sauce because it’s taste was so mild. Broiled salmon is always delicious.

Small fishes at Salutorget - reijosfood.comSalmon salad at Salutorget - reijosfood.com

For main courses ordered Roasted white fish with spring potatoes and egg sauce with chives and Salutorget´s pepper steak, garlic potato chips, grilled green asparagus and pepper hollandaise

Noticed afterwards that had forgotten take pictures from main courses for two reasons!

Firstly had to ask waiter to bring glass of red wine which I had ordered. Meat was already waiting to be eaten. Secondly had to ask for cutlerys which waiter forgot to bring after starters.

About main courses: Pepper steak should have been medium but it was almost almost well-done. Potato chips felt as they were old, would say the shape was more like slice not chip. Whitefish was luckily well prepared and basic new potatoes are always good.

So, you will see picture taken at the terrace instead of portions.

Salutorget terrace - reijosfood.com

For desserts we had Berry crumble and vanilla sauce with rosemary and Lime youghurt mousse with limoncello sorbet

Desserts were best part of dinner and saved evening. Crumble with vanilla sauce was delicious, mouth-watering combination. Mousse with sorbet was refreshing after salty fish.

Dessert 1 at Salutorget - reijosfood.comDessert 2 at Salutorget - reijosfood.com

Wine list is quite short; interesting to see that all wines are from European countries; mainly France, Italy and Spain.

For wine we chose Riesling Reservé Dopff au Moulin from Alsace, France. Nice, quite light riesling paired well with fishes we ate. As mentioned before, had glass of Les Vignerons Carignan Syrah from GCF, France with meat.

 

Dining room and bar were almost empty most of the time, which is unusual for Friday evening. One reason was the amount of happenings, like kick-off of Helsinki Festival.

Salutorget - reijosfood.comSalutorget bar - reijosfood.com

We have visited Salutorget couple of times (reviews can be found by using search), but this visit was a little bit dissappointing. Food used to be excellent as well as service.

Because of the cozy terrace and interior still believe that Salutorget can perform better. Therefore 4 for the overall grade.

On the same date was opening of Hotel Manta of Helsinki. Previous post was about this “hotel”.

Hotel Manta - reijosfood.com

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

http://www.salutorget.fi/en





Restaurant review: Grotesk – across from Ragu

10 08 2014

Have visited restaurant Grotesk couple of times but last visit was to Grotesk Winebar. Winebar has unfortunately closed it’s doors and so called Meatbar, where we dined this time, had changed a little bit it’s exterior and menu. Grotesk locates by the same street as Ragu where we dined a week ago.

Picture is taken from Grotesk window table. Ludviginkatu is nowadays “restaurant street” as Greek restaurant El Greco locates next to Ragu.

Ragu and Grotesk - reijosfood,com

Menu is short and waiter asked, if we would like to try Chef’s menu with 3-6 courses with matching wines. But kitchen was not able make changes to portions, for instance use something else instead of peas and onions. We should have made the requests beforehand. Terrace menu is even shorter consisting of same portions.

Menu at Grotesk - reijosfood.com

So we decided to choose something from the menu. While thinking what to order, we had glasses of Pol Roger Brut champagne.

Dry and balanced taste as Pol Roger Brut usually has.

Pol Roger Champagne - reijosfood.com

For starters we both had Pan seared scallops with dill and fennel salad (3 pc).

Scallops were small and pan searing was made perfectly. Somehow fennel did not taste so much, maybe the salinity covered it. Can recommend this as a starter.

Scallops at Grotesk - reijosfood.com

For main courses we ordered Smoked arctic char and creamed chanterelles with Spring potatoes and Grilled chop and secretto of Iberico pork with Caesar salad à la Grotesk.

Skin of arctic char had been removed before serving which made the fish quite pale. For side dish potatoes, because all other side dishes included ingredients which were not suitable. All side dishes, by the way, have same prices.

Grilled chop was excellent but secretto a little bit too salty. For side dish had caesar salad, which matched well with both pork dishes.

Arctic char at Grotesk - reijosfood.comPork at Grotesk - reijosfood.com

This time no desserts due to same problem with side dishes. Asked for basic sorbet, but that was not available.

Grotesk was the first restaurant to lower wine prices and it got some publicity after announcing it. They add 20€ fixed margin for each wine bottle, but price reduction did not seemed to apply glass prices. Glass of house red wine cost 9,60€.

Anyway, for wine we had Spieleberg Riesling trocken 2011 from Pfaltz, Germany. Producer is Karl Schaefer. This wine was excellent choise recommended by waiter considering the price 42€. Balanced minerality and acidity with some citrus and lime.

Riesling at Grotesk - reijosfood.com

The interior of Grotesk is not so red as it used to be, but lighting was as dim as it has always been. Most of the diners and drinkers were at outside terrace, but notice that you can not reserve table at the terrace after 8PM, if you want to dine there. And it is wise because terrace will be crowded and noisy.

Grotesk dining room - reijosfood.comGrotesk terrace - reijosfood.com

Grotesk used to be Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant a couple years ago but not any more. It is understandable as concept has changed more relaxed and rough. Maybe main focus is the terrace, which is really popular in the summer time. If you visit Helsinki in the summer time, it is one of the restaurant terraces worth to visit.

Food review is partly based on price/quality ratio. By decreasing for instance side dish prices (5€ for potatoes is too much), grade for food would be better.

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

 





Restaurant review: Ragu – Italian-Scandinavian menu

7 08 2014

Restaurant Ragu opened its doors April 15, 2014, respecting the history of renovated Neo-Renaissance house in the 1890s. Restaurant has dining rooms and all year-round open terrace. Chefs Antti Antti Asujamaa and Erno Kemi have created a menu from Italian food traditions and Scandinavian ingredients.

One possibility to get familiar with Ragu is to visit the bar where you can step in from the restaurant or from separate door outside.

Started the dinner with Aperol Spritz aperitives which were served in fancy drinking bowls. Drinks were so far the best we have tasted in Helsinki, because the amount of Aperol was just the right, so that you can identify the flavor. Unfortunately too much soda or ice have ruined many of the other experimentations with this drink, but not this one.

Aperol Spritz at Ragu - reijosfood.com

You can choose separate portions from a la carte list or pick for instance one of the menus. We chose menu Ludari with 4 courses which partly were surprises. The name of the menu comes from the street restaurant is located, Ludviginkatu, I believe.

Kitchen was skilled to take into account customers constraints of some food ingredients and other wishes also with this menu. Menu should change on weekly basis.

After placing the order freshly baked 4 different breads and 4 different spreads were brought to the table. Yeast bread with red tapenade was best combination. Wish I could prepare as delicious tapenade as Ragu kitchen can.

Bread ad Ragu - reijosfood.com

For starters we were served Vitello tonnato and Broiled whitefish, whitefish roe and crab cake

Vitello tonnato is classic Italian starter. Ragu had modified it so that veal was like carpaccio, raw, but softened in marinade. Salty capers and almost sweet tunafish sauce complemented each other.

Whitefish is one of the best fishes and it is not dependent how it is prepared. But of course kitchen has to know how to cook it. Shrimps complemented perfeclty the taste of salty roe and some vegetables lightened ensemble.

Vitello tonnato at Ragu - reijosfood.comFish starter at Ragu - reijosfood.com

Second course was Toast Skagen with crab soup.

Can not say much more that portion was really mouth-watering. Classic toast skagen was on the bottom of the plate but it was supplemented by crab soup which was poured at the table on top of toast skagen by waitress. Best portion of all four portions eaten at Ragu!

Toast Skagen at Ragu - reijosfood.com

For 3rd and main courses restaurant served Whitefish with pasta and Braised veal with polenta.

The pasta served with fish was orzo or risotti, not anymore sure which one although waitress said the name. Anyone knows? It is unsual to serve pasta with whitefish in Finland but at Ragu it is not due to influences of Italian kitchen. Fish and pasta paired extremely well; desired only some herbs to bring more flavor.

Veal was served in closed glass jar which kept the portion warm. Also creme fraiche, which you sprinkled on meat pieces, was in in smaller jar. Meat was soft as it should be. The amount of salt in meat could have been more because polenta was also modestly salted. Splendidly prepared portion, tour de force from the chef’s.

Pike perch at Ragu - reijosfood.comVeal at Ragu - reijosfood.comBraised veal at Ragu - reijosfood.com

And for desserts we got two different portions. Both included sorbet, almond cake and fresh berries. The difference was that one of the two portions did not include any milk products.

Strawberry ice-cream made the difference in first portion and Dark soft chocolade in another.

Dessert at Ragu - reijosfood.comDessert at Ragu - reijosfood.com

For wine we chose Ettore Germano, Hérzu Langhe Riesling 2012 from Piemonte, Italy. Riesling Renano is the winemaker Sergio Germano‘s favorite grape. Otherwise riesling is not so common in Italian wines. Dry, fruity and balanced wine. Not so much minerals or petrol as in most Austrian or German rieslings.

Ragu has also Italian vintage wines from Angelo Baja, Piemonte. So, you can spend almost 500€ for white wine bottle of vintage 1999, if you like to.

Riesling at Ragu - reijosfood.com

Restaurant, as it is in elegantly renovated building and it’s dining rooms are classic yet chic designed, is welcomed newcomer. You can eat in privacy as tables are not too close to each other. Music is not too loud, again more customer-centric approach. As you can see from the glasses on the tables, every detail has been taken into account.

At 8PM restaurant was almost full booked which tells that Helsinki townies have found the place. Did not hear any foreign languages, though.

Ragu dining room - reijosfood.com

Ragu - reijosfood.com

Food at Ragu is well prepared, elegantly set and delicious. Finnish-Italian fusion cuisine works well by combining best parts of both. Only if there had been more depth of flavors in main courses grade for food would have been close to maximum.

Waitresses take orders and serve drinks but you can meet chef’s and confectiners as they bring most of the portions to the tables. The contents of each portion was explained well and it is needed, if you choose surprise menu as we did.

Worth to visit!

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





Restaurant and cruise review: Smuggler’s Dinner Cruise

3 08 2014

M/S Natalie - reijosfood.com

In the summer time piers of Market Square in Helsinki are full of cruise ships which take you to few hours cruise or for instance to Suomenlinna. You can just enjoy of attractions along the route by paying ticket or at the same time enjoy lunch or dinner, if ship serves those.

With over 65 years of experience Royal Lines has shown Helsinki from the sea. One can get familiar with the best views like islands, famous historical buildings, harbours, villas and saunas. A traditional archipelago buffet is also available as well as short a la carte list which is understandable due to size of the kitchen.

2 1/2 hour dinner cruise is nice way to combine relaxed sightseeing and dinner, if one wants to see Helsinki from the sea and has only one day to spend time in the city. Royal Lines provides two routes, one to the east and one to the west. We chose Smuggler’s Dinner Cruise with m/s Natalia at 6PM to the east.

Decided to enjoy 3 course meal which started with Buffet. One option would have been to eat buffet for starter and main course.

It consisted of various herrings, fishes, salads, vegetables, pate, terrine etc. Herrings are delicious; focus on those. Did not find any vegetable soup although it was mentioned on the list.

Buffet at Natalie - reijosfood.comBuffet menu at Natalie - reijosfood.com

Buffet plate - reijosfood.comBuffet plate - reijosfood.com

There are two different main courses to choose from. We chose Roasted Arctic char with butter and nettle sauce & a beetroot and buckwheat cake. Fish was a little bit over roasted but otherwise portion was ok as it is prepared in small ship’s kitchen.

Arctic char at Natalie - reijosfood.com

Menu included for dessert Triple chocolate dream with vanilla & berry compote but we asked to replace it with something else and got Rasberry cake with berry compote.

Nice piece of cake was perfect ending for the dinner.

Rasberry cake at Natalie - reijosfood.com

Wine list is also short consisting of basic wines. Chose only riesling, Yalumba from Barossa Valley, Australia. Basic, light riesling without distractions.

Yalumba riesling - reijosfood.com

If you want to visit Porvoo you can choose either J.L. Runeberg, old steam boat in the picture below, or more traditional ship which Royal Lines has.

J.L.Runeberg - reijosfood.com

Cruise at Natalie - reijosfood.com

Smuggler’s Dinner Cruise sounds exciting but only hints of thriller were some background stories during the cruise. Eating is not the most essential part of time spent on the ship. In good weather most of the time is spent on upper deck by watching surrounding archipelago and by-passing boats.

Lunch cruise review from year 2012 can be found be using search and writing just cruise.

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

Royal Line – Helsinki Sightseeing – Over 65 years of experience








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