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: SPIS – hidden gem in Kasarmikatu

20 10 2019

Restaurant SPIS is small 18-seat Nordic restaurant in Kasarminkatu, Helsinki. SPIS serves pure Nordic food, therefore it is excellent place to dine, if want to get familiar with local dishes. Visited first time SPIS already in 2015 when it was selected as restaurant of the year. Since then it has been able to keep high standards when it comes to cuisine and service.

Enjoyed Short Tasting Menu because dinner started already at 17.30. Prices vary from 50-57€ depending on ingredients. Vegan menu is also available, which is not yet so typical for fine dining bistros. But this is quite natural for SPIS, as main ingredients used are vegetables.

 

First surprises were “crackers” in two forms, which started the dinner. Had already ordered glass of champagne, which had tiny bubbles and was refreshing.

First dishes were soup and sortiment of local veggies. Tasty and well prepared.

Then restaurant served scallop with cucumber, which paired perfectly with each other. Then it was time to melt food with sorbet.

Main dish was enough big to make you full and now the wine was red.

Two desserts finalized the dinner.

Restaurant is located in Kasarmikatu and when it is closed, it easy to bypass it without noticing.

Pairing wines can be also ordered with the price of 34€. For digestive ordered Helsinki Applejack  which is a spirit produced from the best Finnish apples. Today in Finland there are several distilleries producing famous gins, whiskies and other excellent spirits and The Helsinki Distilling Company is one of them.

SPIS is one of the best Nordic food restaurants in Helsinki. Food served is well prepared, creative and tasty. And I really appreciate that restaurant is willing to prepare all snacks between the dishes.

Service has always been one of the strengths of restaurant. Chef”s bring some of the dishes to tables, which makes the dining more intimate.

Can warmly recommend SPIS!

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

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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: Shelter

4 08 2018

Restaurant Shelter locates in an old warehouse at Katajanokka, next to restaurant Holiday. The owners and designers of restaurant are Teemu Laurell, Antti Asujamaa and Lennu Sukapää. Teemu Laurell was the winner of Finnish Top Chef competition in season 2012. There is also terrace front of the building where you can enjoy aperitives in the summer time. As it is on two sides of the building you can have different views depending on your preference.

Shelter serves 3, 4 or 5 course surprise Chef’s menu, but a la carte is also available. Food is combination of Finnish and international flavours, which makes it extremely facinating.

Decided to order 4 course Chef’s menu. All menus are also available as vegan.

Of course, started the dinner with aperitives. This time House Champagne, which was refreshing and tasty

First course from the starters list Roasted flatberad with carrot hummus, marinated radishes & goat cheese.

Delicious combination of almost sweet and sour flavors accompanied with just baked warm bread. In vegan version cheese was left out.

Second course was Grilled pulpo with almond romesco, kale & yuzu yoghurt.

Octopus was prepared well, crispy and and at the same time soft from inside. Again brilliant mixture of savors which made the dish appetizing.

Vegan version looked similar but it based on broccoli.

Third course was Grilled sirloin of beef with smoked bone marrow, truffle & vegetables from Långötorp farm.

So called main course was again tasty. Only thing which could be different is the type pf meat. A little bit too greasy for my taste.

Vegan version was Grilled Långötorp´s vegetables & forest mushrooms. On the top of dish was vegan cheese.

Desserts were Strawberries with elderflower, champage parfait & sorrel and White chocolate with lemon verbena, lemon sherbet & milk merinque

Perfect ending for the dinner!

Visited Shelter two times during the same week. Both times restaurant was able to provide similar experience. Service was polite and professional and food excellent.

Because of that and old building where restaurant is located, Shelter earns extra points. There are not so many window tables but we were lucky to get one. At least try to ask for it.

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

http://www.shelter.fi/menu





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.








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