Restaurant review: Bar Con

19 02 2017


Bar Con was opened on the 3rd of December 2016, when new restaurant concept was launched in Kamppi shopping center 5th floor. Owners of Bar Con were also behind the new concept, Kortteli (Block), which includes 11 restaurants with different cuisines.

Bar Con is, however, located in its area above other restaurants and cafes. You climb the stairs to the “6th” floor where is the dining area and bar behind the desk.

Restaurant Bar Con is relaxed and casual spot serving similar food as you would get in Barcelona tapas bars. Menu includes pintxos, which are served on a crunchy slice of bread, tapas and main courses. Also few desserts are included.

Started the dinner with 2 pintxos and 2 tapas. Pintxo is snack, one piece costs 4€. Tapas portion can be shared. Ordered QUESO AZUL Y NUECES Asturian La Peral blue cheese with walnuts and SETAS AL AJILLO Seasonal mushrooms sauteed with parsley, garlic and pine nuts.

Amount of cheese was overwhelming but could not find walnuts. Would prefer blue cheese as slightly melted but this pintxo was delicious.

The garlic taste was a bit overwhelming, but overall it was a nice little snack.


Next came tapas portions, had ordered PIMIENTOS DEL PADRÓN Green Padrón peppers fried in olive oil and seasoned with coarse salt from Ibiza and PATATAS BRAVAS DE BARCELONA Crispy potatoes, spicy sauce made of smoked pepper and aioli.

One tapas plate is enough for two person for starter, if you order first pintxos.

Spiced potatoes were excellent, but missed a little bit taste of chili, which is used in some tapas bar in Barcelona.

Also salted green sweet peppers were as they should be.

For main courses decided to ordered MAR Y MONTAÑA Chickpeas, Spanish butifarra sausage and baby squid and POCHAS A LA NAVARRA White bean and vegetable stew from Navarra.

Mar was now shrimps instead of squid as restaurant was not able to get fresh octopus. Better this way than to serve frozen food, which can be quite stewy when it comes to squids. Butifarra sausage was as good as expected and stew very tasty as a whole.

The white bean stew was the only vegan choice.  This dish was a bit too salty, but must wonder if the combination of tapas on top of this main would have made a difference on the taste.  Overall a nice warm dish.

Wine list consist of Spanish wines, of course, and most of the wines are from small producers and imported by the company owning Bar Con. List also tells that wines are vegan, which means that animal-derived products has not been used during production.

Ordered Seis de Azul y Garanza, which has its origin in six vineyards placed next to the Desert of Bardenas Reales which produce small grapes. Waiter suggested this wine for all dishes we had ordered and pairing was perfect. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were perfect combination.

 

Restaurant Bar Con will be success, no doubt about it. Perfect location and you can even watch out from the narrow bar.

Food is tasty and ingredients used fresh and original, imported from Spain. Must say that so far most authentic when it comes to real Spanish food.

Service was professional and seemed natural. Information about food and wines were available with professional way.

 

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

http://www.bar-con.fi/

http://kampinkortteli.fi/en





Restaurant review: Kaarna – bar and kitchen

12 02 2017

Restaurant Kaarna is a laid-back Finnish restaurant with a Scandinavian twist. The restaurant offers simple food and as speciality beers from microbreweries. Most of the dishes also have beer suggestions. To start with, restaurant recommends to try snapas, a sortiment of tapas made from Finnish ingredients. 

Kaarna is located in Forum shopping center in two floors. Street level, there is a small bar, and at the second level there are the dining area and lounge type of bar. There is even small inside terrace by the entrance in the shopping mall.

Ask for window table by Mannerheim street, if you want to follow by-passers and shoppers.

 

For starters had Green salad and Blini with pike roe.

It looked beautiful, but unfortunately the taste was not.  No dressing was added to the salad, or oil offered.  This salad is not listed on the menu, but there were not vegan options for starters.  Nice of them to improvised, but not a success this time.

As it is blini season, had to try it for starter. Only roe available was pike, usually salmon or white fish roes are served. Blinis were ok, but the amount of roe was ridiculous. Never have I seen that tiny pile of roe. And seldom, if ever, syrup is served with blini. Missing black pepper was the third thing, which went wrong.

For vegan food Pulled oats flatbread Pulled oats flavoured with tar and fennel, onion purée and flatbread from Lapland and Roasted country chicken Chanterelle sauce, fried vegetables and roasted potatoes.

Pulled Oat is oat and bean based protein food developed by Gold & Green, new Finnish vegan food producer.

Finnish flat bread is tasteless and dry as it is, so the toppings should be the opposite.  In this case, once again, it looked delicious, but there is just one word to describe this dish:  Bland.

Taste of chicken was nice, but is was quite dry. Portion included sauce, which tasted mushrooms. Maybe, if there had been some bites of chanterelles, it might have tasted, what it should have been.



Wine, which was so called Loyalty Customer wine, was best part of the dinner. Banrock Station Shiraz 2016 from Australia paired well with slightly spiced food. Quite sweet taste still because wine is really young.

Restaurant Kaarna has perfect location in one of the busiest shoppping centers and by the Mannerheim street. If you want window table, it is recommend to make table reservation in advance because restaurant is busy on weekend evenings.

Because of fully booked tables, had to wait 40 minutes for starters.

Unfortunaly food experience was not at the level we expected but location and window table increased overall grade.

REVIEW: Food 2/5 – Service 3+/5Overall grade 3+/5

https://www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/kaarna-baari-keittio





Wine review: Farnito Camponibbio 2009

10 02 2017

*
In 1967, Giovanni Carlo Sacchet and Antonio Mario Zaccheo set out to interesting wine and produce a Chianti Classico that it would gain international renown. Carpineto wines are the result of advanced scientific and enological processes and techniques which respect the territorial integrity of the land. Over 95% of the Carpineto production is of red wines, the majorityof which are wines which age 3+ years before reaching the market for sale, with current figures at over 3 million bottles of wine being sold yearly.

“Camponibbio” is a Vineyard located in the southern part of our Vino Nobile estate, just outside the town of Chianciano Terme, Siena. This vineyard is subdivided into various plots, each with its own grape varietal, clone and rootstock that best match the varying soil types. During each harvest winery selects the fruit from the best performing vineyard plots, given the weather conditions of that vintage.  The grape composition of each vintage, therefore, is made of varying percentages of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Merlot, which is not mentioned on the back label of the bottle.

THE LOOK

Style of label is old and it has kind of map of wineyard.

Color of the wine is intense, deep, ruby red with garnet highlights. Vintage 2009 does not yet provide hints of brownish color.

THE NOSE

First light but later intense, found plums, berries and liquorice. After letting the wine breath, could also find light stable and cigar box.

THE TASTE

Bold, yet balanced and elegant.

Facts:

Alcohol: 13,5% by volume
Extract: 40 g/l
Acidity: 5,5 g/l
Energy: 90 kcal/100 ml
Closure: natural cork

It is recommended to decant the wine, then you can really enjoy the flavors and bouquet.

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

http://www.carpineto.com/the-winery/?lang=en

 

 





Restaurant review: Loiste at 10th floor

21 01 2017

Restaurant Loiste is located in the heart of Helsinki at the 10th Floor of Hotel Vaakuna and Sokos department store. There is a nice view from terraces and part of the restaurant windows. If you are seated on the right side of the restaurant, when you come in, you can not enjoy of the view, unfortunately. Therefore ask for window table and you can take a look at Kamppi and Forum shopping centres. Loiste is casual type of restaurant, but tries to put effort on the menu and food.


If you just want to enjoy aperitif or you are not hungry enough, you can visit the bar, which is located at the same premises, at 10th floor.

 

This time no starters as had decided to eat dessert too. However, as portions were not that big, could have eaten Blini, the season dish, for starter.

For main courses ordered Fish of the day and Chickpea steak, baked shiitake and kale, bell pepper tzatziki, which was the vegan dish.

Fish of the day was Arctic char, which is cold-water fish in the family of salmonidaes. Quite common in Finland. Side dishes were beetroot, potatoes and mushroom sauce. Simple, tasty but fish pieces could have been bigger.

For vegan porton, not your typical Chickpea steak.  A combination of chickpeas, shredded carrots, and zucchini put together in tasty steak shape. Served with a delicious red pepper tzatziki sauce and a side dish of seasoned wild mushrooms. Overall a delicious dish worth a second try.

For desserts ordered English cranberry-chocolate pudding  and Basil-Coconat sorbet.

Pudding was more like a cake, but delicious. Again few bites bigger and experience would have been perfect.

The vegan dessert was a creamy, structure like ice-cream.  Basil and coconat are not a common combination, but it totally works!



 

This time had for red wine Trapiche Astica Merlot-Malbec from Argentina. This basic wine had intense red color with ruby hues. Fruits and vanilla aromas, great complexity of the red and black fruits in the palate with sweet tannins. Malbec softened Merlot taste nicely.

 

Bigger portions for the price paid is a wish, when it comes to non vegan dishes.

Service was polite but we were wondering why we did not get window table although requested. Few tables were empty all the time by the window. Otherwise restaurant was quite busy.

 

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

https://www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/restaurant-loiste

 





Restaurant review: Oficina – Latin Grill and Bar

8 01 2017

Oficina – Restaurante and Club Social – locates at Kaivopiha plaza in Helsinki, offering Latin food. Inside the restaurant, which is one floor down from street level, you’ll find the dining area, open kitchen and bar. Oficina is owned and operated by S-Group/Raflaamo, which has several restaurant chains in Helsinki area.

Oficina menu comes from Latin America, but not from some particular country. The Argentinean asado culture and their charcoal grills are used to prepare steaks, fish and vegetables. From Peru,  restaurant has selected the sharp pisco sour, salsa verde from Costa Rica and from Brazil, grilled chicken marinated in coconut. If salsa verde would be from Mexico, the taste of chilli jalopenos would have been stronger.

For starters (entradas) chose Ceviche Salmon ceviche, avocado mole salsa and corn chips and Nachos con salsa Oficina’s own corn chips and fresh salsas.

Ceviche was fresh and included many pieces of salmon. Typically dominant ingredients are vegetables and herbs but this time there was enough fish. However, lack of lemon or lime and acidity disturbed a little bit, but otherwise salmon paired well with chips.

Nachos included 3 salsas and part of them were spiced with red chilli powder. That gave extra taste to so common Latin American starter or snack. The guacamole and pico degallo added were nice, but as mentioned ealier green salsa could have been hotter, not lemony taste dominated.

For vegan main course ordered from Latin Grill list Tofu Asado Tofu on a skewer, pineapple salsa, beans and ginger daikon radish and Ribs de Cerdo Pork ribs glazed with chipotle chilli and served with fennel and apple.

Tofu was grilled to a firm crispy consistency. On the plate there was also edam and black beans seasoned with chilli/mango sauce, which really complemented the tofu

Ribs had delicous sauce but I think that fennel had been replaced with Pimientos de Padron. At least I could not find it, and apple was also difficult to find.

When you order main course from Latin Grill you need also to choose side dishes for them. Ordered Ensalada de quinoa Quinoa, red rice, lemon almonds and apple and Patatas fritas House made chips ja tomato aioli.

You might think that patatas fritas are like french fries, but english version tells already something else. First thought that they really were chips, but actually they were little bit thicker and softer. Excellent match with ribs, and would be also good option for starter.

Wine list is short but includes enough choises for Latin American food. Decided to enjoy bottle of Marques de Casa Concha 2013, made from Merlot grapes. Enough full-bodied and spicy to pair with herbs, salsas and slightly spiced food.

Restaurant has used material for decoration from different South American countries as well as Caribbean Island cultures. One example is Pinata hanging in the roof presenting Mexican plays.

Music comes also from the same direction as food and decoration. Welcomed genre, because you mostly hear same rythms from USA and UK in other restaurants and bars.

Food at Oficina is scrumptious and suits for many tastes. A little bit more spicies (read chilli) and herbs, then resataurant would be perfect small Latin America kitchen in Helsinki.

Service was polite and professional.

Overall grade is 4+ because this restaurant concept has been well designed. Everything around food complements it nicely.

Must come back some day later in the evening to check if Club Social continues with same music and athmosphere.

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

https://www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/oficina





Wine review: Amarone della Valpolicella di Sartori 2011

24 12 2016
Amarone of the month, Amarone della Valpolicella di Sartori 2011. Can not avoid buying Amarone, when it is Christmas.

Wineyard’s history goes back to 1898 when Pietro Sartori bought his first vineyard in Negrar. Nowadays Sartori’s success is in large part due to its international efforts, which represent over 80% of its sales in over 50 countries: throughout Europe like Finland, in North and South America, in Russia, in South East Asia. The labels on which the company is now focusing on are Regolo Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso DOC and Marani Bianco Veronese IGT. This makes me wonder, if Amarone is worth to try.
Grapes used in production are 50% Corvina Veronese, 40% Rondinella and 10% Molinara.


THE LOOK

Most Amarone bottle labes are modest without too much colors like Sartori

Intense red colour

THE NOSE

First feeling was coffee chololate. When you rotate the glass, you find typical aroma with hints of red fruit jam and spicy finish

THE TASTE

Also first taste is kind of coffee chocolate, which I have not recognized from other Amarones tasted. If you have tasted this wine, did you find the same aroma and taste?
Wine does not taste as sweet as many others, but it has same full bodines, of course.

Facts:

Alcohol: 15% by volume
Sugar: 9 g/l
Acids: 5,5 g/l
Energy: 90 kcal/100 ml
Extract: 39 g/l
Closure: natural cork


img_2294

Amarone della Valpolicella di Sartori 2011 is nuanced, developed and pairs well will rustic meat dishes It paires also with cheeses, like Comte as well as Castello blue and white cheeses, which were as desserts on Christmas table.

Amarone is always wine you can trust, if you like to enjoy something else than red water.

 

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

http://www.sartorinet.com/en/

 

 





Restaurant review: SPIS

10 12 2016

Restaurant SPIS is small 18-seat Nordic restaurant in Kasarminkatu, Helsinki. It is open only in the evenings. Because restaurant is tiny and very popular, during weekens you have to choose to dine at 0530/06.00PM or 0830PM. From Tuesday to Thursday dining starts between 0600-0800PM without time limit. And then and at “night shift” you can order Long Tasting Menu with six courses. However, with snacks and greetings from kitchen, you get over 10 plates front of you.

Enjoyed Short Tasting Menu with 4 courses. Price varies from 50-57€ depending on ingredients. Vegan menu is also available, which is not yet so typical for fine dining bistros. But this is quite natural for SPIS, as main ingredients used are vegetables.

 

First surprise were crackers, which started the dinner. Had already ordered glass of champagne, bubbly and fresh.

Second snack were vegetable greetings from the kitchen, yellow root and spiced cucumber, so simple but always delicious.

And third snack was even more interesting and scrumptious, “spaghetti” with cloudberries. Creative way to combine ingredients, which you may not use together in your own kitchen.



After 3 apetizers kitchen brought first dish, starter, which name I do not unfortunately remember any more. First picture below tells more. As menu do not describe what it includes, post should be written quite soon after dining. Now it has gone three weeks.

Second dish was pike perch with two ways with onions. Pleasantly soft and tasty fish and sweet onions paired well with each other.

And third dish, second main course, was braised pork with fennel. Excellent mixture of salty meat and slightly sweet vegetable!



Before desserts we were served cup of cloudberry soup. This led perfectly to sweeter world of SPIS dishes.

First dessert was greetings from the kitchen, kind of apple crumble.

And fourth dish and actual dessert was cake, which melted in the mouth.

You can combine food with recommened wines with price of 36€, which we did. Because SPIS uses lot’s of vegetables and way of using spices is Nordic, also the wines are light.

With starter we were served sauvignon blanc, which unfortunately not, is my favourite wine.

For vegan version next two wines would have been orange wine, totally new experience, but after first glass changed it to stronger red wine from Italy, which was served with pork. Orange wine is produced from different white wine grapes, which have spent some maceration time in contact with the grape skins, giving the wine an orange color.

Must say that as a friend of full bodied red wines, would next time order a bottle of ripasso or something similar.

 

After asking for check, restaurant always serves final culinary pieces, some sweets on huge Lego brick

SPIS is one of the best Nordic food restaurants in Helsinki. Food served is well prepared, creative and tasty. And I really appreciate that restaurants goes through the trouble of preparing all snacks between the dishes.

Service has always been one of the strengths of restaurant. Chef”s bring some of the dishes to tables, which makes the dining more intimate. However, this time it was sort of difficult to hear what waitresses explained to us.

Some changes in wines and overall grade would have been 5-.

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

 

http://spis.fi/








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