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: Cevicheria

31 03 2019

Cevicheria is small Peruvian restaurant and Pisco bar in newly opened dining area in so called Autotalo. Office building does not invite customers to step in to that area, but when you are there you can see sushi restaurant, Nepalese restaurant and couple of other different style dining spots.

Cevicheria claims to be first cevicheria in Finland. Maybe, but Pastor has served Peruvian fusion food including ceviches for many years. Menu consist of starters, ceviches & tiraditos, main courses and 2 desserts. Side dish selection is versatile. Vegan versions are also available.

Ordered for starters Ensalada Quinoa Salad of quinoa with avocado and Ceviche Carretillero Pike-pirch, octopus, greenshell mussel, lime juice, Aji amarillo, choclo corn and sweet potato.

Both dishes were tasty when we got them to table after quite long waiting time.

Quinoa was cooked differently as usual which made it quite special.

Ceviche is actually enough big to be main course. Fish was nicely “cooked” in citrus sauce and shellfishes were fresh although we are in Finland. Dish does not need sweet potato as a starter, but as main course it is justified.

 

For main courses had Carapulcra Sunroot, artichoke heart, chickpea, smoked chilipepper and vanilla and Aji de Gallina Chicken in creamy cocos chili sauce served with rice.

Sauce complemented nicely chickpeas which were enough moist. Typically they are quite dry.

Pulled chicken was delicious in it’s topping. Menu says that side dish is rice but it was served with potatoes. In this case fried sweet potatoes were not needed. But must say they were the best ever eaten in Finland.

 

For wine had Portuguese COROA D’OURO 2016. Pleasant bouquet and smooth, full-bodied and aromatic taste. Produced from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grapes.

 

Ceviche is welcomed new cuisine in Helsinki restaurant scene. Just recently opened dining spot practices serving but most important thing are tasty and fresh dishes.

Location might be slight challenge because restaurant is in the office building without windows opening to the streets. But that should not be problem if food served keeps the level it had during our visit.

 

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

https://www.cevicheria.fi/





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: 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








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