Restaurant review: Sue Ellen

24 06 2018

Restaurant Sue Ellen was opened in November 2017 and it replaced Bystro, which was also owned by the same chef’s familiar from Demo and Muru. Bystro served Russian food, but Sue Ellen has quite different cuisine. It comes from Southern coast of America like Savannah, South Carolina and Charleston. Sue Ellen is good example of new “pop-up” trend in restaurant scene. Instead of fine tuning decoration and menu, close old concept and open new one.

Sue Ellen is located in former colonial merchant’s house by the sea, opposite to Old Market Hall. Hotel Haven is behind or around the restaurant and many guests of course use the opportunity to dine without need to walk far.

The name of the restaurant presumably raises eye brows of those who remember old TV series called Dallas. If you go to wash your hands, you can even see pictures of main characters.

There is one special dish restaurant offers. You can order whole Piglet 3-4 days beforehand. Of course there are shellfishes, oysters and some other meat dishes available, but piglet is quite extraordinary.

Decided to order 4 course menu, which cost 55€, as waitress told that it was also available as vegan. Also ordered wines suggested for the dishes.

Vegan starter was GREEN TOMATOES Fresh salad and Louisiana remoulade and standard CAROLINA CRABCAKE & OKRA SALAD Romesco paste, lemon curd.

Tomatoes were the best part of vegan dinner. Because of those, expectations were quite high for next dishes.

Crabcake was tasty, one could really find the taste of juicy crabs. Paste made the dish even more delicious.

Wine served for both starters was Pinot Noir from Robert Mondavi. Fruity and almost full-bodied wine paired perfectly with starters.

 

Second dish on the menu was SPICY MANGO Baby gem, fried shallot, pimento.

Vegan dish did not include biscuits on the top of the food. Mango was not so sweet because it travels quite long time from country of origin before fruits end up to Finland. As being used for enjoying often spicy food, dish was slight disappointment.

Wine served was German Riesling from Böcking. Dry, crispy and fresh wine comes from Mosel area and for mango, it matched perfectly.

Next and last salty dishes were Asparagus based vegan dish and SLIGHTLY SMOKED BRISKET Brisket ”Au Jus”, roasted cauliflower purée and broccoli

Second vegan main course was combination of different vegetables and roots. The idea came from dish called FROM THE SEA, which includes asparagus and sweet potato chips. However, typically restaurants provide tofu or some other protein product like Härkis or Nyhtökaura replacing meat of fish. In this case restaurant did not have those.

Brisket was excellent, tender (au jus means juicy) and fumigating was made with skill. Was just hoping for the third slice as was still hungry. Tiny side dish was also perfect match when it comes to taste: but again, double the amount and this dish would have been bull’s eye.

Both wines come from Charles Smith Wines. Boom Boom Syrah for meat and Eve Chardonnay for vegan dish. Waitress actually chose white wine as it paired better with asparagus and other veggies.

Dessert / Sweet of the Day on the menu was Chocolate cake, which was delicious with all add-on’s. Sorbet was included in both dishes and as it is prepared at restaurant, it was also very tasty.

Desset wine from Bigaro, Piemonte, Italy is produced with two different grapes, one white (Muscat) and a black (Brachetto). Amount of alcohol is only 5%, which makes this perfect summer wine.

Sue Ellen wanted to provide vegan dishes for 4 course menu, but that seemed to be quite difficult. Standard menu was delicious and worth to order, although portions are not that big. As many restaurants provide also vegan version of their menu, grade is compared to those.

Service was casual but professional, the contents of dishes were explained well and the pace of serving food was well planned. Waitress also changed the champagne aperitif as she saw that there were not enough bubbles.

Same owners have also new interesting experimental restaurant Ultima in the same building. Part of the ingredients are grown in the restaurant and 90% come anyway from Finland.

REVIEW: FOOD Vegan 2,5/5 Standard 4-/5 – SERVICE 4,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4-/5

https://sue-ellen.fi/en/





Restaurant review: Ristorante Vaelsa

13 05 2018


Ristorante e Taverna Vaelsa is located by Market Square, at Pohjoisesplanadi 9 in the historic Govinius building. At the 2nd floor there is restaurant (Ristorante) serving more sophisticated menu and downstairs is taverna, which serves pizzas and some salads. Vaelsa‘s kitchen combines local food and classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist.

Had dinner at Ristorante when it was full of diners. Also Taverna was packed, reflects the popularity of this concept. Sign of popularity!

As an appetizer Vaelsa serves foccaccia with pesto made from green olives. Nice snack, especially when pesto was so tasty.

For starters ordered Polpo arrosto and Insalata di verza.

Fried octopus with bean mousse and winter salad was delicious. Crispy pieces of octopus with mousse paired well. Only what was missing were double amount of polpo, so fresh and well prepared it tasted.

Savoy cabbage salad with cumin, apple and salad was also very tasty. Vegan version included also vegan mayonnaise, which is not so common yet.

For main courses had Pappardelle al cacao and Ravioli.

Cocoa pappardelle pasta in a juniper spiced wild boar sauce was on of the best pasta dishes ever eaten. Vaelsa makes their own pasta, so it is fresh and cooked as one want’s it to be. Sauce with pieces of wild boar was bull’s eye, juniper flavour was pleasant surprise. One can also order pasta as Primi Piatti, then the portion is smaller and costs less.

Pumpkin filled ravioli was prepared as vegan, cream sauce was replaced with suitable ingredients. Again well done by the kitchen.

Tested also vegan dessert Torta Riso, Rice-chocolate cake. Sweet and luscious!

Location is excellent, just opposite to Market Square. And if you get window table like our group, it is nice to watch the crowds outside.

Service was professional, only problems was, that as on the other side of table was wall, waiter had to give few plates from other side of the table. If you want to visit Ristorante, better make table reservation, to Taverna you can just walk in and check if there are free tables. There is also tiny bar for drinks just after the entrance.

Visited Vaelsa in March, yesterday when there was suprisingly warm day, had beer’s at the terrace. Worth to visit also!

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

http://vaelsa.fi/ristorante/





Restaurant review: Rugosa

11 03 2018

Restaurant Rugosa was opened in January 2018 in Lauttasaari in one of the recently completed apartment buildings. The best part of Rugosa is that it takes only 10 minutes to walk there as it is located on the home island.

Specialities are charcoal grill and huge aquarium, which is only for viewing. Fishes are not used for cooking although there are fish dishes on a la carte list. Restaurant is open every day from noon until evening, but only weekends until 23.00.

Dinner starts with home made pita bread with hummus and tsatziki. Really delicious and can actually replace the starter as there is plenty of it.

Only vegan dish for starter is Salad a la Rugosa Naturel. For another starter ordered Blue cheese and Garlic Snails.

Salad was basic and fresh.

Snails were tasty, combination of cheese and butter with herbs made the dish excellent although there was nothing extraordinary. And there should not be as this is traditional starter. More pita bread which unfortunately is not the best bread to wipe hollows clean as it a bit hard.

For main courses ordered Falafels a la Rugosa and Charcoal grilled fillet steak.

Vegan option was nicely presented but falafels itselves were a bit dry. Although menu says that there is also vegan mayo option, restaurant had not yet made that.

Steak was tender as it should be. Waitress forgot to ask how it should be prepared; it was medium minus. Would have anyway liked medium plus ripeness. Mushroom sauce and potato cake supplemented meat. This ensamble made dish quite heavy, maybe grilled roots have been better choice.

For wine ordered house wine Portuguese AdegaMãe Pinta Negra Tinto 2016. Excellent quality/price ratio and definately best part of dinner.

Dining room is spacious but as Rugosa seems to be quite popular, best to make table reservation at least on Friday and Saturday evenings.

There is lots of potential to be the number one restaurant in Lauttasaari. Casa Mare and Blue Peter face now real competition which hopefully encourages them to further develop their businesses.

Portions look spectacular and they are big. Some fine tuning and food grade raises easily.

We did not plan to order aperitives but as nobody asked if we wanted, we sticked to wine.

Ragusa deserves 4 points for overall grade because of location. But as mentioned earlier restaurant have all odds to get higher.

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

http://www.rugosa.fi/

 

 





Restaurant review: Samsara (Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain)

3 03 2018

Usually write about restaurants in Helsinki, Finland, but if find noteworthy spot somewhere else, review ends up here. Gran Canaria is one of the most holiday destinations, especially the south part. Most of the restaurants do not differ so much from each other and you can similar food from each restaurant. Some try to be a little fancier, maybe the the fanciest are at the hotels.

Restaurant Samsara in Costa Meloneras is hidden gem or not because it is so popular. It’s location is interesting, one could not guess from outside that in that worn building there is a fusion cuisine spacious restaurant with it’s own style. Decoration comes from Asia, buddha style dominating.

The idea is to share portions, dishes are not classified to starters and main courses. If you decide to eat one dish by yourself, there is not room for so called starter.

To start the dinner with, Samsara served Samosas for apetizers both times. Delicious snack is a nice bridge for courses you are waiting for. There will also be a small white roll, which is not needed and actually it does not fit in to the ensamble.

First visit dishes were “fish lasagne” POUPIETE DE LENGUADO Y SALMON AHUMADO CON CREMA DE LANGOSTA ORIENTAL and FILETES DE TOFU ENROLLADOS CON HOJA DE ESPINACA EN SALSA DE SETA SHITAKE.

“Lasagne” was tasty but as waiter said it was not so exotic and spicy as many other dishes. Wanted to try how two fishes, salmon and cod, paired with cheese. Interesting experience!

Tofu replaced turkey in vegan version of this dish. Dish was tasty and tofu cooked crispy.

For wine ordered Mas de Quince from bodegas Piedemonte. Winery is located in the town of Olite in Navarra, Spain of course. It was founded in 1992. The red varieties grown are: garnacha, tempranillo, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Wine was created from grapes sourced from more than 15 year old vineyards, with an average yield of 4000 kg/ha. Color was dark ruby and taste balanced with smooth tannins.

When visiting second time ordered SOLOMILLO CON CURRY PANANG and VERDURAS SALTEADAS CON CURRY DE MATSUMAN Y LECHE DE COCO ACOMPAÑADO DE ARROZ JAZMIN.

Tenderloin in curry sauce with vegetables and cashew nuts was bulls eye. Spicy and sweet sauce as well as soft, crispy pieces of meat made this dish excellent.

Vegan version of curry was not so spicy as expected but propably for many it was enough strong. Delicious dish and of course big portion.

Principe de Viana Edition Limitade was the wine we enjoyed during second visit. Grapes come from different wineyards and they are Tempranillo 25% Plot “El Carrascal”, Merlot 50% Plot “El Crucero” and Cabernet Sauvignon 25% Plot “La Muga”. It has been aged in 225-litre oak barrels for 14 months. Wine has deep ruby red colour. Taste is round and well-structured, dark berries and fruits with hints of vanilla.

When you enter to restaurant by climbing the stairs, you first see giant statue. Outside there is chilling area for enjoying drinks. There is also few tables for dining but winter time sometimes might be to cold to eat outside.

Indoor you can find different spaces. Dining rooms are decorated with sculptures, pictures, small items and all are more or less looking like there were brought from Asia or India.

 

Samsara serves some spicy dishes, but all of them are kind of pieces of art. Serving plates, bowls or trays are huge due to size of portions. One speciality is desserts, one can beforehand order cake for birthday party or for other celebration.

Service is propably the best in Costa Meloneras, many waiters and waitresses are ready to to serve.

Restaurant is open only in evenings and it is fully booked almost all the time. Therefore if you want to visit it, make your reservation enough early. They might ask to re-confirm it, but it is worth of it.

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

http://www.samsara-gc.com/indexe.html





Michelin star restaurants in Helsinki 2018 – back to track

19 02 2018

 

Michelin Guide announced new list of Michelin starred restaurants in Finland today, one new restaurant got it’s first Michelin star, Grön.

Three restaurants kept 1 Michelin star, all in Helsinki. Chef & Sommelier was closed but same owners got right away one star for their new restaurant Ora.

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:

Ask, Vironkatu 8, Helsinki – http://restaurantask.com/?lang=en

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/

 

Demo bar - reijosfood.com

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

Picture from Grön about 2 years ago – dish waiting for sauce

 

Helsinki got one Bib Gourmand restaurant more. Boulevard Social, Gaijin and Farang are owned by same chefs, incredible achievement year over year. Emo was named again. Jord is the new restaurant.

I would add to this list at least restaurants Copas y Tapas, SPISBar Con, Roster, The CockYes Yes Yes,….Today there are at least dozen restaurants which provide excellent food with decent prices and professional service. I shall bet Michelin consultants have not had time to visit all those.

Anyway, all listed restaurants earned to be named.





Restaurant review: Yes Yes Yes

21 01 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 milk products in some dishes make restaurant vegetarian.

In the past there was McDonald’s in the same place. Transformation to totally different style and cuisine has been enormous. Most of the tables are by big open windows. Two bars are mostly meant for diners, to eat there 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. But as food is more like shareable tapas dishes regarding to our waiter, you shall get all dishes almost at the same time to the table.

Recommendation for two: Order 4-5 dishes and share at least 2 of them. Sizes of dishes are like racion, not tapas. We ordered 6 dishes, which is a little bit too much although two of them were dips with tandoori bread.

First we got Comfort Plate Rigatoni, kuri squash, ricotta, pistachio pesto and burnt tomato and Roots & Greens Charred kale, persimmon, parsnip chips and toasted sesame. Pasta was cooked as it should be, not too much. Combination of cheese, pesto and tomato matched well with rigatone. From vegan dishes kale was the most attempting. Again chef”s were able to create a tour de force from vegetables.

After 5 minutes we got Munchies which were Halloumi fries, pomegranate and coriander and Cauliflower tempura, sweet pepper sauce. Although these should be small dishes there were actually the biggest one. Hallomi fries were tasty with sauce and spices but even for two this dish quite filling. Cauliflower was excellent, not too hard either soft. Interesting observation was that if felt and almost tasted like fried calamari.

And almost right away crispy tandoori breads with two dips Kuri squash, pine nuts, sun-kissed apricot and ginger and Beetroot, aubergine, blood orange and olive oil. Dips were interesting, first one was almost sweet and we even thought that apricots were figs. Dark dip paired better with breads, at least in our mouths.

Wines have been chosen by Riikka Sukula who owns a wineyard in Italy with his husband, TV celebrity chef Jyrki. Ordered Spanish Alma de Casa (Soul of the House), which is produced from Monastrell (80%), Cabernet Savignon and Syrah grapes. Full-bodied red wine with hints of dark berries. As it has been stored for few months in oak barrels, it made the wine more round.

Yes Yes Yes will be the most popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Helsinki this year. Although it is January and for some people the month one tries to avoid alcohol which also leads to less visit to restaurants, 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. And for vegans very welcomed new spot.

Because all dishes came almost at the same time and our table was full of plates, might make sense to order first few and after eating those order more.

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

https://www.yesyesyes.fi/





Restaurant review: Säm – Asian Bar and Kitchen

13 01 2018


Säm – Asian Bar and Kitchen bistro was opened in Helsinki at the end of August 2017 by a former 2 Michelin star chef Hans Välimäki and Restamax Group. Restaurant Säm is part of Asian cuisine complex. It is located at the ground floor; at the 2nd floor there is Masu – Asian bistro. Masu tries to be more sophisticated but also relaxed. Visited Masu 3 weeks after it was opened, review can be found by using search.

Originally the idea was that Säm serves more like street food. However, many of the dishes and their prices are the same in both spots. That applies to wine list too.

Decided to try order “small dishes” for starter. Chose Nonohana Rabe Broccoli in soy-chili sauce, garlic, sesam and kewpie mayo and Sticky “Vietnamese style” chicken wings Crispy fried and glazed chicken wings 3 pcs.

Unfortunately small dishes came at the same time as main courses. So, do not order them as starters.

Broccoli dish was tasty, amount of mayo actually helped in that.

Wings were exactly as they were described on the menu, very delicious. Mayo dip matched well with them.

Unfortunately small dishes came at the same time as main courses. So, do not order them as starters.

For main courses had Hot Paa Naam Tok Mushrooms in sesame oil, soy, lemon grass, chili, mint, lime and roasted garlic and Ramen Roasted pork ribs, vegetables, kimchi, nudels and lots of goodies….

Vegan dish was huge and because that it became cold too soon. Dish is quite diversified when it comes to herbs and spices. Difficult to find main taste.

As nudels in Ramen were more like thick spaghetti, they were extremely difficult to eat with sticks. Second problem was to overwhelming broth which was easy to drop and splash on your clothes. Unfortunately taste was too mild for Asian dish and pork was quite greasy.

Wine list, when it comes to red’s, is quite short and prices are quite expensive for casual bistro. Tried one of the few full-bodied, Saint Cosme Côtes-du-Rhône 2016 from France. This vegan wine produced from Syrah grapes paired well with all dishes although the tastes of dishes were quite modest. However, the price for this kind of food is too expensive.

Portions are well prepared and stylish looking. Main courses are quite large, which means that you do not necessarily need additional side dishes. Several vegan options was also positive.

Last time when we ate at Masu, there were only sticks on the table when you arrived. This time also spoons were given right away.

Location is perfect, try to get window table and you see the Park Esplanade, Swedish Teater and restaurant Teatteri opposite to Säm.

As portions did not taste as Asian as they should, can not give more points for food. Expected more use of spices and herbs. Both Säm and Masu mention on they web-site that they are for Finnish taste, might be then difficult to compete in the future with more taste rich Asian restaurants.

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

http://www.ravintola.fi/ravintola/sam-helsinki/








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