Restaurant review: Gluto – the taste of wellness

30 12 2014

Gluto -

Gluto Street Food was opened in Kamppi Shopping Centre in August 2014. Street Food bar prepares gluten-free fresh pasta to be eaten at small dining area or as take-away. The range includes gluten-free pasta of the day with changing sauce options like bolognese and basil. “Restaurant” also offers gluten-free and milk-free stuffed sandwiches and focaccias.

Gluto -

There was some delay in the opening as some authorities were not sure, if Gluto was restaurant or street food bar

We decided to try pastas of the day which were Lasagne Bolognese and Vegetarian pasta.

Portions were quite small, which might be the case, if you choose pasta of the day.

Lasagne was delicious and could have eaten double portion. There was lot’s of smelted cheese on pasta which added some flavour to dish.

Vegetarian pasta included olives, zucchini and tomato. Would have preferred some more vegetables, because of the name of the pasta. However, nice portion and what is most important, gluten-free.

Lasagne at Gluto -

Vege pasta at Gluto -

Gluto is perfect place for people, who like pasta, but can not eat wheat. Location is perfect, which means that tables are occupied almost all the time.

With a little bit larger portions and more spiced portions, grade for food would be over 4. As you order dishes from the counter, service is not reviewed.

Because there is demand for gluten-free dining spot, overall grade is over 4.


Restaurant review: Kaarna – bar and kitchen

28 12 2014

Restaurant Kaarna is located in the Forum Shopping Center serving Finnish traditional food. Concept includes dining area and so called living room (bar) at the 2nd floor and small bar at the first floor.

Ask for window table and you can the follow passers-by at Mannerheim Street. If they say that restaurant is fully booked (phone or email) you might anyway get the table you requested.

Window table at Kaarna -

Kaarna -

The food itself:

From the Nordic Tapas plates we chose Kaarna fish plate Smoked vendace from Kitka, cold-smoked pike, pickled vegetables and rye malt breadcrumbs. This is THE starter you have to choose, if you like fish. Of course you can order same dishes as separate starters but one part of experience is setting of food pieces.

Tapas might mislead you, but word Nordic before it explains everything. They are small Finnish or Scandinavian dishes.

Nordic tapas at Kaarna -

For main course we had Smoked salmon with pickled vegetables, shrimp mayonnaise and potato rösti and Fried whitefish with potato rösti, spinach and whitefish roe.

Unfortunately kitchen did not succeed with these portions. Salmon seemed to be smoked and fried, because it was so dry and even greasy. Pickled vegetables were the same as in starter.

Also whitefish was over-fried. We asked to replace spinach with someting else and best choise was salad. Also asked not to include onion but got plenty of it. Potato röstis in both portions were like fast food stuff.

Salmon at Kaarna -

Whitefish at Kaarna -

Wine list is is short, Kaarna focuses more on beers. Had bottle of Albet i Noya Xarel·lo Classic from Spain. All white wines were organic like this one. Light and fruity wine paired well with starters and fishes.

Wine at Kaarna -

Main courses dropped points a lot. Service was customer friendly and as restaurant was not so crowded, waiter and waitress had time to serve us. Maybe Boxing Day affected the level of food. On the other hand last time was not either succesful when it came to main courses.

Kaarna library bar is worth to visit, cozy couches and so on. You should also taste Nordic tapas but choose main course carefully. Meat dishes might be best choise.


Ravintola Kaarna: Suomalaista ruokaa – suomalainen keittiö – forum.

Restaurant review: Havis – Christmas Eve buffet 2014 + MERRY CHRISTMAS!

25 12 2014

Havis window table -

Helsinki closes on Christmas Eve afternoon. Only few restaurants are open and most of them are hotel restaurants like Havis, which serves hotel Haven guests.

Winter came suddenly although one week ago all weather forecasts knew that there would be “black” Christmas. Snow makes Christmas atmosphere more real (if you happen to like snow)

Aperitives at Havis -

Havis Christmas Eve buffet menu includes traditional Finnish Christmas dishes, even Christmas ham is available. Turkey has taken some place from ham, but not much. Herrings, roes and salted salmon or salted whitefish are must on Finnish Christmas table.

Havis Christmas Eve buffet menu -

Buffet was not as generous as at restaurant Pirate (see previous post). However, each dish was prepared carefully and they were tasty.

Even Christmas ham tasted better than usually. Ham was partly smoked which made the taste delicious. Roe and salted salmon with side dishes were as they should be.

Food is prepared at open kitchen which is located in dining room Kitchen (of course).

Christmas ham at Havis -

Buffet at Havis -

Havis kitchen -

Main courses were served to the tables. You could choose from Smoked salmon or Braised lamb shoulder. We ordered salmon which was one of the best salmon dishes ever eaten. Cooking time for fish was perfect and side dishes, carrot puree, small roasted potatoes and Hollandaise sauce paired brilliantly with fish.

Salmon at Havis -

And dessert Bundt cake with ice-cream was scrumptious. Cake was spiced with Christmas and it matched brilliantly with apple ice-cream.

Dessert at Havis -

Restaurant Havis is one of our favourite restaurants. We usually prefer to dine at dining room Havis, because it mirrors best the origins of Havis as you can see in the picture on the wall.

Restaurant was almost full all the time and most diners were hotel guests.

Havis -

And of course we always ask for window table, which allows us to observe bustle at Market Square and near Old Market Hall. But on Christmas Eve no one rushes anymore anywhere. It is time for relaxing and enjoying good food and company.

You should visit hotel Haven bar at the 2nd floor. It is worth of seeing not only because of wide selection of drinks. It is decorated as member of Small Luxury hotels of the World should be.

Hotel Haven -

Food was excellent due to main course and dessert. Because Havis is open also on Christmas time it earns high grade.

We had Veuve Clicquot and Vodka Martinis for aperitif. Best way to start Christmas dinner as you had already had some mulled wine earlier.





Restaurant review: Pirate Helsinki – Christmas buffet 2014

20 12 2014

Santa Claus -

Santa Claus at Pirate Helsinki

Traditional Finnish Christmas buffet usually includes freshly salted fishes, roes, Christmas ham, casseroles and rosolli (beetroot, pickled cucumber, apple, carrot and whipped cream). Restaurant Pirate Helsinki serves instead of “basic” christmas food many rare delicacy traditional dishes.

Pirate Helsinki served 6th time Christmas buffet in cozy and vivacious athmosphere. This was our second visit in a row. Decision to reserve table was made right after our first visit last year.

Again, one of the most famous Finnish chef’s Markus Maulavirta, was helping in the kitchen.

Markus Maulavirta -

Menu is unfortunately only in Finnish but it includes for instance herrings, roes, smoked fishes, game dishes and different type of side dishes. For dessert you can choose Finnish cheeses and sweet desserts.

Pirate Christmas restaurant menu -

Only dish served to the table, first on the menu, Mushroom-truffle soup, was delicious.

Soup at Pirate  -

All other foods and dishes were on the buffet tables. Because of the wide selection of dishes available, I am not going to bore you by writing detailed description and review of each piece of food tasted. Instead, picture is worth of thousand words.

Pirate buffet - reijosfood.comPirate buffet -

Smoked Salmon at Pirate -

Main courses at Pirate -

Dessert Buffet at Pirate -

Buffets can be insidious, you can eat too much and you notice it only after you have finished dinner. But if you decide just to taste small pieces of each food, then you can survive.

Pirate manages well in serving Christmas buffet dinner. In the summer time going is more simple but as relaxed.

One + more for the overall grade, if wine list would have been as luxorious as buffet. Three white and red wines do not necessarily pair with all available savory foods. We had for white wine Petit Chablis, which is enough “neutral” for most of the dishes. Of course beer would be one option as it is quite common drink with christmas time.

Petit Chablis

See you next year again!


Merry Christmas -

Pirate – Etusivu.

Wine review: Best mulled wines 2014

18 12 2014
Glögi -

Mulled wines

First two important questions: Is mulled wine a wine at all? Are mulled wines available in your country or is there some other Christmas drink more popular?

Mulled wines (Glögi or Hehkuviini in Finnish) are really popular in Finland during Christmas time. They can be purchased at Alko’s already at the end of October. As the assortment of mulled wines is quite wide it is important to select right ones. Many of the mulled wines at Alko are too sweet, too strong or strangely flavored. Once we had to pour present down the drain because it was so awful.

So, we have picked three best mulled wines available at Alko: Perinteinen Punaviiniglögi, Hehkuviini and Rauschgoldengel Organic Glühwein (1 litre bottle!)

Gluhwein -

What is odd that first two come from Denmark, which seems to be THE country of mulled wines, if conclusion is based on Alko selection. So, most of the mulled wines are not made in Finland. As a matter in fact, most of them are imported or specially manufactured for Alko and bottled in Finland.

Gluhwein comes from Germany, of course. Very popular drink with several producers in Central Europe, but only one brand to be chosen in Finland.


The labels of Danish mulled wine bottles look similar, same red ground and golden decorations. Organic gluhwein label is not so flashy, nice winter picture on it.

Hehkuviini is a little bit darker red than Perinteinen Punaviiniglögi. Gluhwine is even more lighter than Punaviiniglögi.

However, the difference of the look of mulled wines is usually negligible.


The aroma of Perinteinen Punaviiniglögi is softer due to amount of less alcohol. Clove dominates but not disturbingly.

Hehkuviini smells like raisin and Christmas spices but alcohol tries to come up. The scent of both wines is christmassy, which is most important savor of mulled wines.

Gluhwein bouquet is nice, not too much alcohol which makes sniffing more pleasant.


You can find cardamon form Perinteinen Punaviiniglögi. Taste is well balanced and spices are in harmony.

In Hehkuviini mostly you can taste almond and gingerbread. As it has more alcohol that can also be noticed. Quite a lot calories too…..

Gluhwein tasted much better than last years version. Balanced spiced taste and tempranillo grapes made this drink winner of the year. And most of all, it is not too sweet.

Gluhwein -


Alcohol:   10.00 %                 13.00%                  22.00%
Extract:   105 g/l                   120 g/l                   170 g/l
Acidity:    4.9 g/l                    5.7 g/l                    4.7 g/l
Sugar:     85 g/l                     95 g/l                    150 g/l
Energy:   100 kcal / 100 ml  120 kcal / 100 ml  190 kcal / 100 ml

Mulled wines are part of Christmas time, at least in Finland. It is a pity that Alko does not provide wider selection of Gluhweins, only one choice available but fortunately excellent. Gluhweins are quite close to mulled wines, but not so sweet.

One option is to buy low-alcohol mulled wines from super markets, but then you also to need to know which ones to pick. Most of them are actually juices.


Perinteinen Punaviini: OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK +++/+++

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

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

Wine review: Taittinger Nocturne – Champagne for Finnish Independence Day

6 12 2014
Taittinger Nocturne

Taittinger Nocturne

Taittinger Nocturne is a “sec” champagne composed of chardonnay (40%), Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (60%). Taittinger suggests that Nocturne should be enjoyed at the end of evening. That is partly because of amount of sugar, 17.5g/l dosage of sugar, which might be needed in the wee hours. Champagne for parties? Let’s taste!

However, we decided to taste Nocturne in the evening on Finnish Independence Day, but not at the end of the evening. Did it make any difference? Tasting from Riedel Vitis champagne glass.

Had enjoyed one tasting glass earlier in the afternoon, when we participated at Wine, food & good living fair in October and then it did not taste as good as we hoped. Wine was also a little bit warm at that time.

Taittinger Npcturen and Riedel glass -


The design of the bottle is elegant and colorful purple. There is also standard bottle available but I would choose this special release.

The body of the wine is pale yellow in color. Rich amount of small bubbles makes you desire to taste before sniffing.


From delicate bouquet you can find peach but also the “sec” which means a little bit more sweetness than in brut champagne


Amount of sugar is noticeable, but when wine is enough cold, it does not bother too much. Taste is balanced and stylish.

Taittinger Nocturne -


Alcohol: 12.50 %
Extract: 39 g/l
Acidity: 6.9 g/l
Sugar: 17,5 g/l
Energy: 80 kcal / 100 ml (340 kJ / 100 ml)

Taittinger Nocturne is champagne for special occasions especially if you do not like too dry (brut) champagnes. Cool it enough cold and you do not even notice the sweetness.

Happy 97th Independence Day!



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