Restaurant review: Vinkkeli

17 03 2019

Restaurant Vinkkeli is located in the heart of the Kaartinkaupunki neighborhood, at the intersection of Korkeavuorenkatu and Pieni Roobertinkinkatu. Vinkkeli can be described as a food and wine restaurant, presenting a friendly, honest, and uncomplicated take on classic cuisine, where the wine and drink selection is given the same devotion as the selection of ingredients in the kitchen. 2019 Vinkkeli was selected as 7th in the “50 Best Restaurants” in Finland list. Excellent achievement as we have 6 Michelin star restaurants.

From Monday to Saturday Vinkkeli offers a four course dinner menu which is designed by their chef’s in the kitchen and wine pairings selected by the sommelier. A la carte list consist of three starters and main courses, but we chose the dinner menu as vegan version was also available. One just have to order it beforehand when making reservation.

To add more hunger enjoyed as aperitifs A. Viot & Fils Champagne Millesime 2008. Fresh and cheery sparkling from small producer with lot’s of bubbles.

 

First courses served were delicious masterpieces.

Carrots and sweet potato were main ingredients in vegan dish. Smoked salmon with accompaniments was tasty, leaving the feeling that one wanted to eat more.

 

Next came the soups, onion and pumpkin.

Both were served so that soups were poured on the plates at the table. Some side dishes were already placed on the plate before pouring.

 

After short brake main courses were served.

In vegan dish broccoli and eggplant paste had main role. Veal was fleshy and cabbage, sauce and paste were delicious.

 

For dessert Vinkkeli served home-made ice-creams.

Oat milk ice-cream with blueberries and blueberry ice-cream with crispy cake melted in the mouths. Perfect finish for excellent dinner.

 

Sommelier suggested for wine Portuguese winery Pinalta. This wine was not on the wine list where there are mostly wines from France. Also Spain and Italy are quite well presented.

Pinalta 2010 is produced from the same grapes as port wines are. Smooth aroma and full-bodied taste made the food-wine combination perfect.

 

Dining room furniture and decoration is classic and elegant.  Restaurant itself is in old building which supplements dignified experience.

 

No doubt Vinkkeli earns accolade it has been given. All pieces are in order for earning Michelin star. Food is excellent and portions are impressive. Service is professional and insconspicuous. Dining area supports well classic dining experience which definitely is not too rigid.

 

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

http://www.ravintolavinkkeli.fi/en/

 

 





Michelin star restaurants in Helsinki 2019 – sixth restaurant awarded with star

20 02 2019

Michelin Guide announced new list of Michelin starred restaurants in Finland today, again one new restaurant got it’s first Michelin star, Palace. This may not be surprise because restaurant was established by two famous chef’s Eero Vottonen and Hans Välimäki. In the past Välimäki’s restaurant had 2 Michelin stars. Vottonen was 2018 Finland’s representative in Bocuse d’Or competion. Today Vottonen is the main chef and Välimäki has opened Penelope restaurant, which represents quite different style

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:

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/

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

 

Bib Gourmand restaurants are Boulevard Social, Gaijin and Farang, owned by same chefs, incredible achievement year over year. Emo was dropped from the list. Jord was able to keep it’s position

I would add to this list at least restaurants Copas y Tapas, SPIS, ….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: Pobre – Filipino kitchen with a twist

1 02 2019

Pobre opened in January 2018 and it serves New Filipino food. Background for Pobre can be found from the times Restaurant Day still officially existed. Restaurant delivers dishes that vibrate the flavors of the Philippines. In Filipino culture, food is always a centerpiece of any gathering. Cooking is a way to bring a family together and the value of a memorable dining experience is at the very core of our identity.

Pobre is located in Kamppi Shopping Center at 5th floor where there is “Block” (Kortteli) consisting of about 10 different kind and style of restaurants.

Menu is short but all the dishes sound tempting. Difficult to choose what to order when visiting first time.

Started the dinner with SISIG Sizzling, braised pork neck, red onion, spring onion, chili, egg and dumplings QUASH & COCONUT Coconut chips, chives, soy-calamansi sauce, xo sauce.

Sisig was eaten with fingers, stew was placed on baby gem salad leaves and spiced with chili and garlic oils, which were made in the restaurant. Spices were in the small jars and you can make this dish as spice as you want. Brilliant idea to serve different tastes.

Manila dumplings were vegan as all the side dishes available. Again spicing from jars made this dish delicious.

 

For main courses ordered SEAFOOD SINIGANG Salmon, tiger prawns, seasonal vegetables, taro, tamarind broth and PANSIT CANTON Handmade noodles, seasonal vegetables, ©Jalotofu, soy-sesame sauce.

Also ordered for side dishes SPINACH LAING Spinach, coconut sauce and BERDE SALAD Baby gem lettuce, shaved cucumber, carrots, pickled mangoes, kohlrabi, sesame vinaigrette.

Sinigang was served in a hot bowl which kept also the food really warm for long time. Salmon was still soft as it was in the broth and prawns crispy.

Pansit Canton was tasty vegan dish. You could order the same dish with other ingredients, tofu is one option.

And both side dishes were excellent due to dressings and spices. Vegetables are Finnish but when you add the Filipino twist, even they can be really yummy.

 

You have to walk to the end of dining area at 5th floor and you find Pobre behind the glass wall’s. Restaurant has only about 25 seats, so it is important to make table reservation beforehand.

Must say that Pobre is one of the best newcomers in Helsinki restaurant scene.

Food is excellent, fresh and served with impressive way. Prices are affordable compared to many casual fine dining restaurants.

Service is professional although the small space does not help the work. On the other hand it makes Pobre more intimate and cozy.

Can recommend restaurant if you like Asian food! That’s why overall grade is almost 5.

 

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

https://www.pobre.fi/

 





Restaurant review: Ragu

26 01 2019

Restaurant Ragu opened its doors April 15, 2014, respecting the history of renovated Neo-Renaissance house in the 1890s. Restaurant has several dining rooms due to old building, but it makes the spaces more private although one could call the area open concept. Success has continued since opening and Ragu was fully booked when we dined there on nice October Saturday. Although restaurant promotes still separate bar, it is reserved for diners nowadays.

Food is Scandinavian although one could think it is Italian due to name. Anyway, all wines come from Italy (except Champagnes).

Had been in Ragu several years ago but as they now serve Ludari menu also as vegan decided to dine there again. Ordered also pairing wines in order to test how well Italian wines match with Nordic cuisine. The name of the menu comes from the street restaurant is located, Ludviginkatu, I believe.

After placing the order freshly baked 4 different breads and 4 different spreads were brought to the table.

 

Menu was built around fresh Finnish ingredients, lot’s of vegetables were used. Vegan and standard menu outlook’s did not differ that much which means that kitchen really thought about dishes.

 

 

Second starter was impressive. When jar was opened, smoke rose up. Unfortunately could not catch that in the picture. Vegan version was based on roasted cauliflower.

 

Two main courses were maybe a little bit too much as after first one you already feel full. Both vegan and standard menu included pasta which fills the stomach.

 

Desserts were sweet and tasty. Also the paring wines were well chosen as they were not the sweetest ones.

 

Food at Ragu is well prepared, elegantly set and delicious. Finnish-Italian fusion cuisine works well by combining best parts of both. Only if there had been more depth of flavors and spices grade for food would have been close to 5.

Waitresses take orders and serve drinks but you can meet chef’s and confectiners as they bring some of the portions to the tables. The contents of each portion was explained well and it is needed, if you choose surprise menu as we did.

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





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





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/








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