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/





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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HELSINKI APPLEJACK

 

 





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 – Penelope

7 09 2019

PLATO PEQUEÑO, GRAN SABOR

Restaurant Penelope was opened late 2018 by celebrity chef’s Hans Välimäki and Arto Rastas. Modern fine dining tapas kind of bistro serves well desingned and tasteful dishes. Restaurant has 60 seats but you can also dine by the bar desk as we did at the first time or in the summer time at the terrace.

Had 8 course dinner when eating first time. This time let you enjoy pictures because Penelope is one of the best restaurants in Helsinki, when it comes to international food.

Ordered for wine Enemigo Mío Garnacha from Casa Rojo. Cherry red wine with purple trim. The nose is fruity and floral, with notes of rose petals. Delicate, elegant, with a rich complexity in which the aromas of red fruits and balsamic. Nice with all dishes enjoyed.

 

Restaurant is cozy and laid-back. You can see chef’s working in the open kitchen.

Food is excellent and dishes well prepared. Service was professional but as we dined by the bar desk, there were some limitations.

Waiting for third visit…

 

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

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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/








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