Restaurant review: Farouge

7 03 2020

Lebanese restaurant Farouge was originally established in 1995 in Helsinki. When building, it was located, was renovated, it closed its doors. Some time later it opened street food bar at Stockmann department store at 1st floor. New restaurant Farouge re-opened its doors in August 2018 in recently renovated Aurinkotalo.

150 seats and two dining areas make Farouge one of the biggest restaurants in Helsinki. First dining area after entrance is elegant and mainly for groups. Next to it is garden restaurant, which is more laid-back and actually has tree in the middle of the room.

You could eat only Meze’s if you want to taste different flavours of Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine. We decided to order those as starters and go with main courses after that.

Started the dinner with glasses of Champagne. Great way to relax, check the menu and orientate for the dinner.

 

Started with BABA & GHANOUSH Aubergine and tahini, MUSHROOM & GARLIC Pan-fried button mushrooms with coriander and garlic and SHRIMPS & CORIANDER Shrimp pot with coriander. And of course pita bread was served with appetizers.

First two mezes were vegan. Baba & Ghanoush, did not remember what kind of dish that was, therefore should have ordered Hummus & Pine. There was not enough eggplant as you can see in the picture and hummus flavor dominated.

Shrimps were tasty with herbs and spices. Maybe not typical meze, but Farouge serves also some hints of Mediterranean cuisine.

Big mushrooms were delicious. Using spoon was easier as serving bowl was quite small.

 

For main courses decided to try SEA BASS & SAFFRON Sea bass with Jerusalem artichoke and saffron sauce and CAULIFLOWER Stuffed globe artichoke, quinoa, cauliflower and pumpkin.

Lebanese cuisine is healthy including an abundance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and seafood. Therefore expected a lot from Sea bass dish. Two slices of white fish meat were cooked perfectly and sauce paired well with Sea bass. Most of the main courses were meat dishes like chicken and lamb. Next time have to try one of them.

Quinoa was the best part of Cauliflower dish. Cauliflower itself is mild-tasting and requires strong herbs and spices to make it enjoyable.

 

Most of the major wineries in Lebanon have their vineyards in the southern Beqaa Valley. Chateau Ksara remains much the biggest, with 70% of all the country’s production.

For wine had two different Lebanese wines. Most full-bodied was Musar Jeune Red Château Musar, from Bekaa Valley produced from Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Winery is perhaps the best known in the West.

 

Restaurant Farouge is interesting choice if you are looking for fancy dining experience. Two dining rooms with different decorations and athmosphere influence in the experience. If you want to dine more casual, choose winter garden. If you have foreign business guests or dress code is Lounge suit or more, choose main dining room.

What makes restaurant also attractive is the music. Arabic rhythms take you to origins of food and make the dining more authentic.

FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 4,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

https://www.farouge.fi/en/





Restaurant review: Lucy in the Sky

22 02 2020

Restaurant Lucy in the Sky sits on top of Accountor Tower, the historical landmark building towering over the area of Keilaniemi in Espoo. Restaurant was opened in January 2020 by same owners as Pastor, which was closed few months earlier.

Lucy’s glass walls provide views to all directions showcasing the best of the Helsinki-Espoo region. Lucy serves lunch, dinner and brunch to both the tenants of the building and visitors alike. For visitors like us, easiest way to arrive to the restaurant is to take subway, as stop is only 100 meters from the tower.

Had first house Champagne Charpentier Blanc de Blancs at the bar, crisp and fresh, as 100% Chardonnay wines should be. Bar had been decorated respecting 70’s style when the tower was originally built.

For dinner ordered tasting menus: Taste of Honey (vegan version) and Slow Down I. Menus changed few days after visiting restaurant, so dish names are not the so exact. One suggestion is to share the menu on a paper before starting to serve it.

Taste of Honey started with miso soup and artichoke mousse. Both were very tasty, maybe the mousse was missing cracker or some bread for dipping.

Slow Down I menu started with “blini” and pork bun. Both were perfect way to start the dinner, right sized and tasty. Maybe the bun was a little bit too big compared to amount of fillings. Opening up it a bit more might have fixed it. Anyway, appetizing!

 

Then came Tempuras which could have been ordered also as main course platter. Vegan version included cauliflower and broccoli. Slow Down I consisted of king shrimp and cauliflower. With soy based dip sauces third course was enjoyable. Tempura is one of the favorites in general.

 

Taste of Honey had one extra dish, risotto. Although it did not include any parmesan cheese, not even vegan, taste was excellent. Also chanterelles, which are one of the best mushrooms in Finland, made risotto perfect.

 

Main courses were actually large portions of food thinking about 5 course dinner.

Tofu and noodles in Taste of Honey were scrumptious. Tofu is quite typical in vegan dishes especially when cuisine is partly Asian.

Tender slices of and pulled black angus beef were excellent. Perhaps the best of all dishes in Slow Down I. Accompanied with delicious side dishes and sauces, the skills in the kitchen were noticeable.

 

Desserts were chocolate mousse sorbet and matcha latte. Not too sweat, perfect way to finish the dinner.

 

For wine ordered Corsini Armujan Barbera d’Alba 2016, which was chosen by Sommelier Pekka Koiranen. Lucy has comprehensive wine list and wines from Nebbiolo and Piemonte are well presented. Full-bodied, tasty wine which paired well with all dishes.

 

In the middle of dining area is open kitchen. Several chef’s and cook’s are preparing food between two islands. Positive was, that food did not smell at the dining area at all.

Visited restaurant couple of days later and had two course lunch with few friends. Lunch I enjoyed was very light, prawn cocktail for starter and arctic char for main course. Maybe with dessert which we I did not had, the amount for food would have been enough.

 

Lucy in the Sky will be success although it is in the middle of office area which is under constraction. Dining room was full during the dinner and when the terraces are open, spot will be even more popular.

Views to all directions are spectacular. When sun will shine or sky will be clear, you can spend some time just walking around the restaurant and observe surroundings.

Worth to visit again!

 

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

https://en.lucyinthesky.fi/

 





Michelin star restaurants in Helsinki 2020 – 6 restaurants awarded with star

18 02 2020

Michelin Guide announced new list of Michelin starred restaurants in Finland on the 17th of February in Norway, again one new restaurant got it’s first Michelin star, Inari. Restaurant Inari is owned by chef Kim Mikkola and Johan Borgar.

Five restaurants kept 1 Michelin star, all in Helsinki. 

It seems that other cities are not yet included in Michelin reviews although there are good candidates.

 

Restaurants with 1 Michelin star in Helsinki, Finland are:

Inari, Albertinkatu 19 A, Helsinki – http://ravintolainari.fi/

Ora, Huvilakatu 28, Helsinki – http://www.orarestaurant.fi/

Demo, Uudenmaankatu 9-11, Helsinki – http://www.restaurantdemo.fi/?lang=fi

Olo, Pohjoisesplanadi 5, Helsinki – http://olo-ravintola.fi/en/

Grön, Albertinkatu 36 – https://www.restaurantgron.com/

Palace, Eteläranta 10 – http://www.palacerestaurant.fi/fi/etusivu/

 

Demo bar - reijosfood.com

Picture from restaurant Demo which has had Michelin star since 2007.

Picture from Grön about 3 years ago – dish waiting for sauce

Restaurant Ask had last year 1 Michelin star, but is at the moment looking for new premises.

Bib Gourmand restaurants are Boulevard Social, Gaijin, Farang, owned by same chefs, incredible achievement year over year, and Jord. New Bib Gourmand restaurant is Nolla.





Restaurant review: Frida’s

7 09 2019

Frida’s – modern mexican restaurant & garden bar was opened almost at the same time as El Rey. Owners are the same who used to run Patrona before selling it. They also have Italian restaurant Bastardo in Kamppi shopping center, but as roots are in Mexico, quite natural to make a come back.

However, Frida’s is closer to Patrona than genuine Mexican restaurant. Decor is international, music is global and Finnish staff is dressed closer to fine dining bistros Helsinki is full of nowadays.

Started the dinner with aperitives, Margaritas. For some reason drink includes egg in the foam.

 

For starters had Guacamole and Roasted Pork Taco.

Restaurant’s vegan options are limited, that was the reason to choose nacho’s as one starter. Typically they are eaten before any actual dishess.

Pork taco was delicious. Small but tasty with all ingredients professionally chosen.

For main course had Mole Negro Flank Steak.

Mole is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine. Two states in Mexico claim to be the origin of mole: Puebla and Oaxaca. Moles come in various flavors and ingredients, with chili peppers as the common factor. However, the classic mole version is the variety called mole poblano, which is a dark red or brown sauce served over the meat.

Quite modest taste, but enjoyable.

What was interesting the prices of wine we had. Coroa D’ouro 2016 was 30€ cheaper than in restaurant Vinkkeli. Must say that Vinkkeli fooled a little by telling that wine is imported by restaurant. And price was ridiculous compared to Fridas’s.

Frida’s do not differ that much from the concept Patrona had after Frida’s owner sold it, at least then when visited 4 months ago few weeks after opening.

Of course, it is worth to visit due to impressive dining room, polite staff and international menu. However, El Rey is closer to Mexican origins.

 

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

https://www.restaurantfridas.com/





Restaurant review: Taqueria El Rey Annankatu

21 04 2019

Taqueria El Rey opened it’s big brother (or sister) in Annankatu in March 2019. First El Rey is small taqueria which earned title “Best tacos in Helsinki” few years ago. New spot is in the same place where one of the first genuine Mexican restaurants Patrona located. With new owners Patrona was later ruined and it closed it doors 2018. So, what would be the better location to continue real Mexican tradition than the corner by Annankatu.

Menu at El Rey Annankatu is more varied and ambitious than in small taqueria, but same tacos are of course available. Also wine selection is more comprehensive and what makes wine menu remarkable is that there is one excellent wine from Baja California, Mexico!

Started the dinner with aperitifs, glass of La Chouette Champagne and Paloma, fresh and tasty Mexican drink made from tequila and grapefruit soda.

 

For starters ordered Guacamole Made daily with fresh avocados, tomato, onion, coriander, chile & lime. Served with traditional totopos, Sopesitos 3 small hand made corn sopesitos, topped with smashed beans & chorizo, crème fraiche, lettuce & queso fresco and Yaca Pibil Panuchos From Yucatán 3 small corn panuchos, topped with smashed beans, jack fruit pibil, pickled habanero & onios

Guacamole and totopos are always perfect combination. And as also “nachos” are home made, which make them lighter and less salty, it is easy to empty the bucket.

Sopesitos were excellent and one can “adjust” the taste by adding spicy sauces which were brought to the table.

In that sense Panuchos were great as they were served with jackfruit. That gave unique taste for the starter as we have not seen this tropical fruit used before.

We also got chance to try Ceviche de Coco Baby coconut, cooked in lime & yellow habanero juice, mixed with seaweed, avocado, onion, coriander & zuccini. Tart and strong flavor made this starter interesting, could even find savor of fish although this dish is vegan. For our taste it was a little bit too sour.

 

Main courses were one of the Chef’s specialities, Pulpo Grilled octopus with garlic, roasted potatoes with habanero & casbel chili oil and baby gem topped with pickle Xnipec and avocado mousse and Tacos Dorados de Camote 3 crispy tacos filled with sweet potato topped with hot chipotle salsa, fresh lettuce, avocado, coriander, onion & vegan creme fraiche and cheese.

Pulpo was crispy and soft at the same time, which it should be, if prepared in the right way. Portion does not necessarily need potatoes but for Finns they are many times very important side dish.

Tacos with sweet potato were delicious. When eating the third one, sweetness started to dominate but with spicy sauces taste could be balanced.

 

Had to order Mexican wine from Valle de Guadalupe although it was the most expensive on the wine list. L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo 2013 color is intensively dark red, it is full-bodied and taste is rich. Only the price might slow down the sales, otherwise it could be the best-seller in the restaurant.

 

Taqueria El Rey Annankatu is propably the flagship of Mexican cuisine in Helsinki. Brilliantly designed menu and well prepared food guarantee the success. Table reservation is good to make beforehand especially for weekend evenings.

Service is professional and polite but suitably easy-going as the idea is not to be too rigid. If that would be the case remember to try tequila from wide selection.

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

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Restaurant review: Yes Yes Yes – re-visit

23 09 2018

Yes Yes Yes is bar & restaurant where food just happens to be vegetarian or vegan. Spot was opened in November 2017 by the same chef’s who run popular restaurants The Cock and Holiday. One can not find meat or even fish on the menu but dairy products are used in some dishes, which makes the restaurant vegetarian.

Visited 2nd time restaurant in September, ten months after opening. Menu was now renewed. First visit in January only two months after opening was successful. You can find previous review by using search.

Most of the tables are by big open windows. Two bars are mostly meant for diners. In order to eat there it does not require table reservation, which is otherwise necessarily to make.

Menu includes so called Munchies, small snacks, Dips and Tandoori breads, Roots & Greens, Comfort Plates, Extras and Sweetie Pies. Pricing is simple; 10€, 12€ or 14€ per dish. Food is shareable which is todays way to serve and enjoy the dinner.

Recommendation for two: Order 4-5 dishes and share at least 2 of them. Sizes of dishes are like racion, not tapas.

First we got vegan flatbread and dip which included avocado, pistachio and thai basil. Parmesan was left out in vegan version but is was not actually needed. Combination was delicious. Ordered later on “normal” flatbread to accompany so called main course and it was really tasty.

Next we were served Charred kale, pickled grapes, burnt corn and toasted sesame. Crispy kale was perfect and paired perfectly with other ingredients.

As “main courses” we had Black bean noodles, tofu, gems, peanut and sweet chili and Risotto, cherry, lemon, tellicherry pepper, parmesan and flowers.
Noodle dish was tasty, slightly salty but it did not bother. Risotto was the one which raised eye brows. Color and aroma were interesting which luckily did not had an influence in taste.


Last time had for wine Spanish Alma de Casa (Soul of the House), but that was finished. Instead ordered Italian Gianni Tessari’s Pian Alto Colli Berici DOC. Very intensive wine from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Merlot.

Yes Yes Yes is propably the most popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Helsinki at the moment. Restaurant was packed full most of the time. Even the bar chairs were occupaid by diners.

Food is excellent, requires extra innovation to prepare dishes with not so known ingredients.

Last time all dishes came almost at the same time and table was full of plates but this was improved. Dishes came to table one by one and we really had time to enjoy our dishes.

Most of the customers are women, especially groups. As no meat either fish dishes are available that might have something to do with it.

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

https://www.yesyesyes.fi/





Restaurant review: Hampton Bay

26 08 2018

Hampton Bay was opened for May Day 2018. It is located by the waterfront, at the end of Bulevardi Street. Restaurant chef is Harri Syrjänen, celebrity chef known from his own TV series. Concept includes 2 outdoor terraces under the sky, one roof top and one sea side and porch where one can also dine and indoor main dining room. For that one needs to make a table reservation. Room is quite small and after terraces will be closed, athmosphere will change a lot.

The menu gets its inspiration from the sea and social eating – sharing your meals. Restaurant has charcoal grill on which chefs prepare steak and ribs as well as giant prawns. As there was crayfish season also Hampton Bay Signal Crayfish menus were available.

Started the dinner with Salmon ceviche with yoghurt and rye chips and half portion of Pomegranate-quinoa salad, pomegranate seeds, roasted sweet potato, almonds & apple cubes.

Salmon ceviche looked more like tar-tar but was tasty. Typically this starter is more acid and spicy but as Hampton Bay honors more Scandinavian style, taste suited well to restaurant’s cuisine.

As there were no vegan options for starter, asked for half portion of one of the salad options. Portion was big although price really was half the price. Pomegranate was the highlight of this dish. Salad also tasted fresh and it was versatile. Original honey based dressing was changed, which change the dish from vegetarian to vegan.

For main courses had Bowl of blue mussels ”Asian Style”, French fries and Pasta linguini, green asparagus, broccolino, tomato, spinach.

Asian style broth was the best ever tasted with mussels. Enough spicy and with white bread a bulls eye. Unfortunately mussels were very small, so for main course dish needs French fries.

Linguini pasta was replaced with vegan penne. Dish was palatable, all in all combination of well matching ingredients forming interesting pasta portion.

Wine list is quite short but one does not spend a lot of money to bottle. That is definately plus as too many times most of the restaurants try to make most of the money with wines.

Italian waiter recommended, of course, only Italian wine on the wine menu. Cesari Jema Corvina 2013. Corvina is at the heart of the great red Valpolicella wines, and in its integrity we can apreciate its different colours, fragrance and body. The grapes were carefully harvested and placed in drying cases for 20 days. Ageing in small French wooden barrels lasted 18 months, after which it was blended and aged a further 6 months.

Excellent wine and paired well with all dishes eaten.

Decor is marine themed and athmosphere casual. People prefer to eat and drink at the terraces as long as it is possible. If dining inside, try to ask for window table.

Food, especially vegan dishes, were delicious.

Service was professional and polite, in accordance to cuisine.

Location, by the sea and amount of terraces earn extra +. Interesting to see how restaurant changes for the winter season when only indoor dining area can be used.

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








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