Restaurant review: Magu

14 03 2020

Restaurant Magu was established in November 2018 to Kallio neighborhood. Year after it moved to Kaartinkaupunki in Kasarmikatu. Magu serves plant-based vegan food but you do not see vegan mentioned on their web-pages. Ecological approach can be seen in the restaurant interiors. All furniture, plates, glasses, cutlery, textile and kitchen equipment has been bought second-hand.

You can order dishes as separate portions but decided to try 2+1+1 menu. Of course you have to decide which you want to eat, which might be difficult due to different attempting options. After first reading of menu it is difficult to make conclusion that all dishes are vegan, but that is the fact.

 

For firsts two dishes had Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Fungi Panko & Kale x 2 and Arancini & Yuzu. 

Soup was very tasty and artichoke flavor was top notch. You can see the bread above plate? That was one of the best ever eaten in restaurant.

Big Mushrooms and crispy kale paired perfectly with each other. Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, made the ensemble even more enjoyable.

Italian stuffed rice balls with citrus fruit taste, Yuzy, where also delicious. Typically Parmesan cheese is used to complement the taste as in risotto. But as this was vegan, you could not find difference in taste of “real” Parmesan and vegan cheese.

 

For “primi piatti” had Mac & “Cheese” and Risotto Nettle & Broccoli.

Spaghetti with vegan cheese was palatable. Pasta was still al dente as it should be making the dish bull’s eye.

Risotto was, if you can pick any, the “weakest link”. Structure was a little bit too pap, but it did not matter too much due to flavors.

 

Must say that when main courses arrived we were already quite full. 1+1+1 would be enough to make you sated. Had ordered Sweet Potato & Gnocchi and Celeriac & Wild Fungi.

Smoky flavor repeated from one of the previous dishes and dominated a little bit too much in Gnocchi dish. It included two different kind of potatoes prepared with two different ways. Taste was again scrumptious but if you order pasta for third course, recommend to order Celeriac or King Oyster for fourth dish.

Celeriac was extremely tasty, therefore see previous comment. Roots are always lighter that pasta or risotto and of course very healthy. And have not seen celeriac to be used by chef’s so often.

For some reason Magu does not believe that wines and food belong together. Actually in many cases restaurants recommend light wines with plant-based dishes. There are already good vegan and organic wines available. And in Finland, if wine includes egg or other animal based products, it must be written on the label. That is not the case in many EU countries.
Most full-bodied wine available was Nada Nature Peinture which is a medium bodied wine made from 100% LLedoner Pelut grapes. Not typical red wine and for us the taste of wine was too light. And price, 75€, did not reflect with the experience expected with that price range.

 

Magu is welcomed newcomer to Helsinki restaurant scene. Vegan and vegetarian lifestyle is getting more and more popular and there is a need for tasty and well prepared restaurant food.

Dining area is kind of a circle, you might get the table by the street or close to yard. Casual and cozy atmosphere makes the dining experience enjoyable.

If you have vegan friends, take them to Magu. And for food lovers who do not eat only vegetarian or vegan food, it is also experience not to bypass.

 

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

https://www.maguhelsinki.fi/

 





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: The Souk

12 10 2019

Restaurant The Souk was opened in October 2019 in Kortteli at 5th floor in Kamppi Shopping Center. Before The Souk restaurant Jord was at the same location, but it moved to Kruunuhaka. Restaurant still had empty tables on Friday afternoon although almost all other restaurants in Kortteli were already very busy. The Souk does not yet have web pages either it is listed on Kamppi pages when writing this blog. One reason for not yet being that busy as the other restaurants.

Menu as well as wine list are short. The name of the restaurant reflects the cuisine, hints from Middle East and Mediterranean. First you get small tasty bruchetta’s with tapenade.

For starters ordered Cauliflower wings and Warm goat cheese & beetroot carpaccio. Cauliflower portion was huge for starter, could have been shared. Goat cheese on top of beetroots was as it should be. Difficult to fail when warming up cheese on grill.

Main courses were Spinach Arancini and Roasted Chicken Supreme. With main courses one has to choose one side dish, in our case they were Potatoes and Souk salad.

On the menu it is written risotto as one of the main courses, so it was a little surprise to get filled rice balls. Forgot to ask, if this was vegan version of risotto. Arancinis were big enough to fill up really hungry stomachs. But after wings a little bit too much.

Chicken was nicely cut into two pieces. Sauce was tasty and paired well with roasted meat. Side dish was modest consisting of some canned veggies on top of basic green salad.

For wine had Italian Conti Serristori from Sangiovese grapes. Light but paired nicely with low-spicy dishes.

The Souk will be busy in the coming evenings and lunch hours due to location. Kortteli restaurant area is popular especially in the cold and rainy season which has started already in Finland. Restaurant will definately develop during the first months after opening.

 

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





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

Homepage








%d bloggers like this: