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





Restaurant review: Faro – Channelside Bar & Restaurant

2 08 2014

Restaurant Faro - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Faro was re-opened in the spring after renovation by new owners. The interior has been designed by the most known Finnish interior designer Vertti Kivi. Faro locates in Ruoholahti by channel which is buzzing with boats on warm summer days.

Terrace around restaurant building is large providing opportunity for quick drinks or dining. Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and in the afternoon short Bistro menu is available. On Sundays brunch is also served.

For starters we ordered from Bistro menu Cucumber soup with mint and Cold-smoked salmon and crab.

On hot summer day cold cucumber soup was bull’s eye. Frozen soup knobs and cold soup which was poured on top of other ingredients from carafe by the waitress was really delicious. Few pieces of cauliflower paired well with the soup. Maybe the best cold soup ever eaten!

Salmon and crab portion was also scrumptious. Nicely laid out on the edge of the dish.

Cucumber soup at Faro - reijosfood.comSmoked Salmon at Faro - reijosfood.com

Main courses were Whole grilled fish, pickling cucumber and carrot beurre blanc and Fish’n’chips and tartar sauce.

We got last striped bass, next diners would have been served pike-perch. Fish was really delicious and perfectly grilled, not over-cooked at all. For most of the main courses you have to choose and pay extra for side dishes, for striped bass we chose new potatoes with dill-butter. If something could be asked to change, would be be bigger plate which would ease eating. Now you have to eat vegetabels first in order to be able to eat fish.

You seldom get Fish & Chips at a restaurant, therefore had to try them. Breading was crisp as it should be and fish soft as it also should be. With sauce tasty finger food supplemented with country potatoes.

Fish of the Day at Faro - reijosfood.comFish and chips at Faro - reijosfood.com

For wine we chose Dopff & Irion Riesling from Alsace, France. Wine was dry, fruity and included some green apple and citrus. Typical young riesling and tasty one.

Riesling at Faro - reijosfood.com

Portions we chose were excellent. It is difficult to compare Fish&Chips to other main courses but so what, open kitchen has professional chef’s. Service was polite and we were congratulated for the choises we made.

In the summer time dining at the terrace is enjoyable experience, either in the sun or under the sunshade. You can come with boat, bicycle or even with subway, because the stop is near.

Faro terrace - reijosfood.com Faro terrace - reijosfood.com

Have to try Sunday brunch someday because it seemed to be well organized. Noticed that when dropped by for glasses of wine a month earlier.

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

Faro Channelside Bar & Restaurant | Ravintola Ruoholahti








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