Restaurant review: Holiday

21 08 2016

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Restaurant Holiday is lively neighbourhood restaurant, bar and summer terrace, located on Katajanokka island. Building is old and siuates just below Cathedral of Uspensk. Spot was established by same group as The Cock and it operates under Royal Ravintolat new concept. This means that founders are responsible for running the business. Holiday’s kitchen serves seasonal menu with seafood, fresh fish from the nearby market and modern veggie dishes. Notice that meat dishes are not available.

Menu and wine list are quite short which makes ordering easy. It is worth to check also cocktail menu as they are also innovative.

From Raw Bar ordered White fish | avocado | cucumber | soya | sesame | ginger | furikake | cilantro.

White fish was under the vegetables, new asian fusion way to prepare spiced lavaret. However, taste of fish disappeared under excotic ingredients but it it always good to see innovative cooking. Close to ceviche type of starter, which seems to be popular in trendy restaurants.

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As other starter ordered from Garden Greens Fried sweet potato | mayo-zu | tomato

Crispy, and perfectly seasoned fries. The tomato sauce was not your regular sauce; it was cooked with garlic, and other spices that gave it a rich flavor.  The mayo was left out for a vegan option.

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For one main course had from Fisherman’s catch Soft shell crabs | Tokyo gold | mayo-zu | sushi rice | furikake.

Whole crabs were well prepared, crispy and tasty. You must like furikake (Japanese seasoning) in order to enjoy the whole dish as it is part of it. And look at the flower!

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Vegan main course ordered was Poke Bowl | tofu | sushi rice | avocado | seaweed | kohlrabi | daikon 

A full of flavor bowl.  The tofu is perfectly fired, and other additions like ginger, not added to the list of ingredients, give this dish even more flavor.

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For wine had Spanish El Gallito from Merlot grapes. Merlot is not so typical grape in Spain and wines are usually quite light as this one too.

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You can watch chef’s working in open kitchen. Small space requires seamless teamwork.

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Vegan food has quite remarkable role in restaurant Holiday and it tasted good. Dishes are imaginative and also well prepared.

When weather is good terrace is one of the most popular in Helsinki. When sun shines it is difficult to find free seat or table. Also dining room is very popular and one interesting detail was that 80% of the customers inside were women. Maybe the lack of meat on the menu is the reason?

When dining inside prepare for noise because DJ is playing music quite loud which makes diners raise more they voices when speaking over the table.

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

http://holiday-bar.fi/

 

 





Restaurant review: Roster Helsinki

13 08 2016
Roster is a Bar & Restaurant near Market Square opposite to statue of Havis Amanda. New concept replaced restaurants Sasso and Fishmarket in order to provide more trendy and casual way of fine dining. Chef Kari Aihinen and Paul Hickman and part of restaurant Savoy team established the restaurant and as it called Roster Helsinki, one can expect similar concept in some other cities.
You can drink aperitives in the bar before heading to tables upstairs or downstairs for dinner. One option is to book one of the three Chef’s Tables next to open kitchen and watch chef’s preparing food.

What makes Roster Helsinki attractive restaurant, if not already otherwise, is the pricing of wines. Wines are priced with fixed margin, which makes quality wines more affordable. Enjoyed Ned & Henry’s Shiraz 2013 from Hewitson. Usually this wine costs close to 100€ in most restaurants, but “only” 46,40€ in Roster. Wine paired well with all dishes, full-bodied with light spices.

For dinner ordered fish and vegan dishes. Was actually going to order Wagyu BBQ, but beef was fineshed.

To start with you get warm bread and with starters green salad without extra charge.

Fish starter was C.O.D Amanda Lemon verbena seasoned cod, capers and clam crème.

Usually spiced “raw” fishes are salmon and whitefish, but cod suits perfectly for same purpose, when it is prepared like C.o.d Amanda.

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Fish main course was Mrs. Pulpo Grilled octopus, Romesco sauce, avocado and chickpeas. Pulpo is difficult to prepare after octopus has been frozen. It becomes soft and loses it’s crispness, which was partly the case in M.r.s Pulpo. However, sauce and add ons were delicious and paired well with octopus, as well as Ned & Henry’s.

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Vegan starter was Grilled Salad Grilled baby gem lettuce, tomato, avocado and jalapeno mayonnaise.

The lettuce was too soft, but the dressing, which was replaced by a vinagrette to make the vegan option, saved this dish.

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Vegan main course was BOND Special Fried cauliflower, coriander and peanuts.

This is the only vegan option in the menu.  A big head of cauliflower covered in too much peanut butter sauce.  Not the most creative vegan dish.

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Before dinner had visited restaurant terrace and enjoyed lunch. You could choose small dishes one by one but chose to taste all of them Bit’s and Bites. You could also call this tapas or antipasti.

Two type of cheeses, grilled sweet pepper, spiced whitefish, foie gras and sausage/olive bowl were excellent. Dish also included roasted almonds and pop corn, but could have survived without those. Suitable separately with beer, but not so matching with Pinot Noir red wine.

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Roster Helsinki is combination of fine dining in casual athmosphere. Dishes are ambitious and their names entertaining.

Overall grade is 4+ because of pricing of wines. That way should be more common and would definately attract customers to explore better wines they would not usually do at restaurants.

 

REVIEW (FISH): FOOD 4/5 – SERVICE 4+/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

REVIEW (VEGAN): FOOD 2+/5

REVIEW (LUNCH): FOOD 4,5/5

https://rosterhelsinki.com/

 

 

 

 





Restaurant review: Lemon Tree Garden – Rethymnon, Crete

5 08 2016

Summer vacation in Crete, Rethymnon meant also visits to several restaurants and tavernas. Tried about 10 places and always tested starters and main courses. Better avoid dining spots with most aggressive “in throwers”, best ones are those counting on menu, location and athmosphere.

 

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Mostly ate in Old Town where you can find many good and not so good dining spots. When it comes to taverna type of restaurants servining traditional greek food, Lemon Tree Garden is the choice. Judgement is based on two visits, which both were above average in “tavernas category”.

Restaurant has good service, fresh ingredients and well prepared dishes not forgetting vegan choises.

During second visit had for starters Spinach Pies, Vine Leaves Rolls and Feta Cheese. Usually spinach pies include cheese, but restaurant had vegetarian version available. Two types rolls, vine leaves (dolmades) and zuccini flower rolls. Both were prepared at restaurant, too often you get canned rolls. Greek style feta cheese was delicious, right mixture of herbs and tomato.

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For main courses had Gyros, which in this case were perfect. Best part of this was just grilled pork. In one taverna get meat which had been grilled earlier and was warmed before serving.

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….and Stuffed VegetablesSweet pepper and tomato stuffed with deliciously spiced rice. A perfect vegan dish accompanied by sliced potatoes.  Olive oil is always part of the dishes, and combined with the proper spices, makes for the perfect sauce.

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In previous post you can find some information about Greek wines, which are part of dining. In Lemon Tree Garden had Melios and Chateau Julia, both Merlots.

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Chateau Julia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Tree Garden has nice outdoor terrace inside old walls. The name comes from the trees above tables, lemon and orange trees are the roof of restaurant.

After dinner restaurant serves fresh water melon, lemon cake and raki depending on what you have eaten. Nice way of ending dinner, but as you know what to expect, do not order dessert.

 

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

 





Restaurant review: Brasserie Kämp

3 07 2016

Brasserie Kämp

Hotel Kämp is a historical hotel in Helsinki. The hotel was originally built in 1887 by Carl Kämp. The building was demolished and the facade was rebuilt in 1965. 

Dining at Hotel Kämp gives a possibility on a culinary journey from East to West. Asian food is offered at restaurant YUME. Brasserie Kämp offers a wide range of European brasserie style food.

A la carte list is short which makes ordering easy, if you find suitable dish. One option is to order gourmet “fast food” like Kämp burger or club sandwich which are luxorious. Especially french fries are maybe the best in the city.

Wanted to challenge kitchen and decided to order for starters Salad a la Kämp Mixed salad, cucumber, plum tomatoes with marinated artichokes and button mushrooms

Crispy, fresh vegetables made for a very delicious salad.  The parmesan dressing was substituded by a vinagrette, and marinated artichoke with button mushrooms were the choice to make the perfect all vegan option.  The other options are shrimps or chicken.

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and Arctic Ocean Shrimps Hand peeled shrimps, fennel and apple salad, cold cucumber juice.

Shrimps were fresh and just hand peeled, of course. Cucumber juice was delicous and made the dish sort of soup like of starter.

Shrimps at Kämp

For main courses ordered Roasted salmon Creamed seasonal mushrooms seasoned with chervil and tarragon, potato puree.

Salmon was roasted well, meaning that it was not over cooked which can happen easily. Mixture of mushrooms and potato puree paired extremely well with the fish.

Salmon at Kämp

 

and from All day Dining list Black rice and cauliflower Black rice from Piemonte, roasted cauliflower, hazelnut vinaigrette.

From the “All Day Dinning” part of the menu, this is the perfect vegan option.  The original dish is served with goat cheese.  The dish is creamy, but the hazelnut vinagrette and roasted cauliflower keep it fresh and crispy.

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Recommend to dine at the terrace of Kämp Brasserie, which is perfect location to observe passers-by on Esplanadi promenade or pedestrian street. Most of the dishes can be ordered as starters or main courses which helps in keeping the menu short.

Service was unique with French touch. There is a difference between Kämp Brasserie and recently opened trendy bistro type of restaurants when it comes to service. But it is refreshing that there still are some traditions honored.

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

http://brasseriekamp.fi/en/

 

 





Restaurant review: Eatos – Mexican diner

15 05 2016

Eatos Mexican diner is inspired by the classic street food style of Mexico City and elevated it to a higher level to give its customers the best dining experience along with the authentic taste.

Menu includes variety of tacos served up on original soft corn tortillas, as well as filling burritos, quesadillas and tostadas. Restaurant serves dinner and lunch, which consists of various Mexican specials with an array of soups and salads that are already popular among its patrons. The Eatos bar is a home for new innovations with Habanero Micheladas and indigenous margaritas with tropical flavours. Restaurant also has range of mezcales and tequilas on drinks list, but Mexican beers, except Sol, had run out.

For starter ordered of course Totopos con guacamole Avocado dip with corn tortilla chips.

Tasty chips with tomato salsa and guacamole best start the journey to Mexican cuisine. Eatos serves real chips, not nachos, like tex-mex fast-food restaurants. Mark of genuinity.

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For main coursed decided to order tacos.

One with overripe pork, Carnitas. Three corn tortillas, lot’s of grilled pulled pork meat, onion, sour cream and tomato salsa. Amount of pork was sufficient, but as meat itself was quite flavorless, some chillis or additional chilli salsa would have completed the gusto.

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Other taco was Berenjena Stewed aubergine, bell peppers, onion and tomatoes with ginger and tamarind.

It is easy for a Mexican restaurant to serve vegan or vegetarian meals as tacos can be filled with just about anything.  Egg plant seems to be a favorite vegetable for many restaurants to substitute meat. The spices and combination of vegetables in this tacos make for a very tasty meal.  Salsa was not needed, but it is always a nice addition if you like extra spice.  Black refried beans were ordered as a side dish, and they make a great addition if you want real mexican taste.

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Restaurant was this time quieter than time, but waiter remembered our last visit, extra plus for service. Location is off the beaten track in recently built building behind railway station close to Sanoma Building. That my be the reason also for more quiet evening.

There is a boom of Mexican restaurants in Helsinki. Some chains have opened fast food places with try to copy this special latin cuisine, but recommend to choose qenuine ones.

 

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

http://eatos.fi/en/





Restaurant review: Sunn

5 05 2016

Restaurant Sunn

Restaurant Sunn is located at the edge of the Senate Square, directly opposite to the Helsinki Cathedral. The name of old building is also called Sunn, which has inspired the naming of restaurant. The view from the second floor, where restaurant is, is one of the best in Helsinki.

Sunn is open every day of the week serving brunch on Weekends, lunch and dinner. This gives the traveler a chance to see all the festive seasons with the locals including Christmas, May Day and Midsummer.

Actual idea was to try dishes from dinner a la carte menu, as there was also some interesting vegan options. But instead of a la carte, restaurant served May Day Eve buffet “Let’s party”. Should have guessed that because of the special day.

Starter buffet included many goodies, but as vegan choises were limited, restaurant served special starter edition to the table. Duck breast, curry chicken, salads and cheeses had main roles.

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The vegan starters were: Cabbage and broccoli, beet root and spinach, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and strawberries, and tofu and potatoes.  The tastier was the one with strawberries. This mixture worked well together.  The tofu and potatoes was missing something; some salt would’ve added enough flavor to this dish.

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Main courses, 3 options, were served to the table. Chose Whitefish ”Monte” with asparagus, cauliflower and spring onion sauce and pimped version of Asparagus, fried mushrooms and truffle-boletus foam.

As it is asparagus time, all main courses included that vegetable.

“Monte” might mean hill or mountain as dish was placed in layers on the plate, or not? However, fish was excellent, cooked as it should. Sauce tasted delicious and paired nicely with whitefish.

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Tofu can be paired with about anything, but in this case the combination was a bit bland.

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Dinner included also dessert buffet which included different type of cakes. As it did not offer so many vegan choises, also got one portion to the table.

Remember to ask window table and you can enjoy of one of the best views in Helsinki. Part of the windows open to narrow side street, so try to get table by window which opens to the Senate Square.

Senate Square

Buffet was average although the name was fancy, “Let’s party”. If you compare it to many other buffet’s available during May Day time, you could eat similarly everywhere.

Would be interested in to try a la carte, which was the original intention and still is in the plans.

Service was good and especially serving one starter and dessert to the table made it even better.

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

The Restaurant

 

 





Restaurant review: Taqueria El Rey

24 04 2016

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El Rey is small Mexican taqueria in Southern Helsinki. Restaurant was opened about a year ago and today is so popular that table reservation is required.

Menu is short consisting of starters, tacos, 1 enchilada and dessert. In Mexican restaurant one can of course enjoy tequila and even mezcal. Wines are not not main thing in Mexican cuisine, only house red and white available.

If you have not tasted Mexican food before, it might make sense to order tasting menu La Reyna, which includes 6 different goodies from the menu.

For starters had:

Guacamole fresh avocados, tomato, onion, chilli & coriander. Served in a traditional molcajete with home made tortilla
A large serving enough for sharing.  The taste was fresh, and the consistency, thick with some pieces of avocado in it.  Perfect as a topping for the tortilla chips, and add some salsa for an even better taste.
Chips are made in the restaurant, so you do not have to eat those supermarket nachos which are served in tex-mex restaurants
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Sopesitos de Chorizo 3 small market corn sopes, topped with smashed beans, chorizo, lettuce, crème fraîche and queso fresco
Excellent combination, spicy and greasy taste of chorizo crowned the dish. With salsas one of the best Mexican restaurants starters in Helsinki.
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For main courses had:

Gringa de Pastor 3 big flour tortilla tacos made of spit-grilled pork meat marinated in a combination of dried chillies & grilled cheese. Served with pineapple salsa

Portion was big but amount of pork was not sufficient. It was difficult to find pieces of pork but the quntity of pine apple salsa was overwhelming.
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Enchiladas verdes 3 corn tortilla enchiladas in green chilli sauce filled with beans served with red cabbage

Not meant to be a vegan dish, but they were nice and tried to give a good version of the dish.  Beans replaced the chicken, but some lettuce and tomatoes could have been added.  Too much of the tomatillo slasa made the tortillas a bit soggy.  The red cabbage was a strange topping for a Mexican dish.
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Beer suits often better with Mexican food but wine lover always has to try wine list. although it was the shortest ever seen.  Red house wine was from Argentinean Bodega Norton.
Wine was red in color, sweet and spacious aromas reminding of black pepper. Fruity on the palate, with sweet and harmonious tannins. Paired well with dishes eaten.
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Taqueria focus is on authentic tacos. This was also noticed by local newspaper Nyt, as it gave El Rey best points for Cochinita Pibil taco of reviewed Helsinki taco restaurants.
Starters were perfect. Portions are big and prices affordable, bottle of wine was only 29 euros. Some improvement for main courses and it would be easy to give 4 points for food.
Service was professional but maybe little bit timid. However, waiters had time to explain what dishes consist although place was full of hungry customers.
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REVIEW: FOOD 3,5/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4-/5







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