Restaurant Spis is small 18-seat Nordic restaurant in Kasarminkatu, Helsinki. It is open only in the evenings at least at the moment. Because restaurant is small and very popular you have to choose to dine early at 5PM or later at 730PM or 8PM. Spis provides surprise menu only later in the second sitting, otherwise a la carte list is available. The walls of restarant were left original, one wall looked like it was still under work.
Restaurant was a month ago part of the 36 hours in Helsinki story in New York Times travel edition with topic: “New-Nordic nosh” http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/travel/36-hours-in-helsinki-finland.html
To start with we were suggested to try French dry pear cider (Jean-Paul Brun Charme Blanc de Blanc) which was the best cider ever. Finland is the country of ciders, but all local ciders are apple juices with different flavours, not real ciders. As we decided to taste surprise dinner and wines we let the kitchen lead the way. All dishes were also in the a la carte list. Restaurant is also specialized in breads, first was served wheat bread, then dill bread and lastly onion bread. Also peas cand be found in almost every dish.
First suprise were chips which started the dinner. Second one was greetings from kitchen, Perunaa ja voita “Potato and butter“, so simple but always delicious. It is common to eat this combination with fishes but actually it does not need any side dishes, it is a dish.
Then kitchen brought first real food so called Kesäkeitto “Vegetables and milk” which is traditional Finnish food. This time the soup was without stock and it was really cold, almost frozen. It included milk ice cream, snow pyre, peas, cauliflower, carrot and salad leaves. Wine was medium dry Pinot Blanc which suited quite well for the dish. However, mixed feelings but main courses were bull’s eyes!
So called main courses started with Siikaa ja lehtisalaattia “Whitefish and lettuce”. Really enjoyable; fish was boiled up to 42 celcius degrees which made it really soft. It is rare that fish is prepared by boiling not roasting or frying. Also side dishes were delicious and complemented taste of fish perfectly. This time wine selection was not so succesful, maybe it was due to Muscat grape.
Between main courses kitchen served Lonkero sorbet with grape fruit. Lonkero is traditional Finnish mixer you can not get anywhere else. It consists of gin and grape lemonade and was introduced in Helsinki olympic games 1952, 60 years ago.
Next main course was Kukonpoikaa ja fenkolia “Cockerel and fennel”. Cockerel was served with two ways, piece of breast and great ragout. Ragout was excellent and suited well with fennel and small fried potato pieces. Wine selection was from Beaujolais and match was excellent.
Dessert was peculiar as it included also peas; Hernettä ja pannukakkua “Peas and pancake”. However, it was scrumptious. Pea soup was sweet; pancake did not look like traditional as it was green, more like pastry. Asked one portion without pea soup and ice cream and that was taken in count well. Portion included sorbet and strawberry soup. Dessert wine was Riesling, which is not so common grape for sweet wines but perfect match for desserts.
Spis offers one interesting speciality; rum from Åland! Had to taste it with coffee and can recommend. Taste is mixture from calvados and rum. Kitchen’s greetings also with coffee.
REVIEW: FOOD 4,5/5 – SERVICE 4,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5
Food and service are excellent, hope Spis finds bigger dining room in the future.