Restaurant review: Oficina – Latin Grill and Bar

8 01 2017

Oficina – Restaurante and Club Social – locates at Kaivopiha plaza in Helsinki, offering Latin food. Inside the restaurant, which is one floor down from street level, you’ll find the dining area, open kitchen and bar. Oficina is owned and operated by S-Group/Raflaamo, which has several restaurant chains in Helsinki area.

Oficina menu comes from Latin America, but not from some particular country. The Argentinean asado culture and their charcoal grills are used to prepare steaks, fish and vegetables. From Peru,  restaurant has selected the sharp pisco sour, salsa verde from Costa Rica and from Brazil, grilled chicken marinated in coconut. If salsa verde would be from Mexico, the taste of chilli jalopenos would have been stronger.

For starters (entradas) chose Ceviche Salmon ceviche, avocado mole salsa and corn chips and Nachos con salsa Oficina’s own corn chips and fresh salsas.

Ceviche was fresh and included many pieces of salmon. Typically dominant ingredients are vegetables and herbs but this time there was enough fish. However, lack of lemon or lime and acidity disturbed a little bit, but otherwise salmon paired well with chips.

Nachos included 3 salsas and part of them were spiced with red chilli powder. That gave extra taste to so common Latin American starter or snack. The guacamole and pico degallo added were nice, but as mentioned ealier green salsa could have been hotter, not lemony taste dominated.

For vegan main course ordered from Latin Grill list Tofu Asado Tofu on a skewer, pineapple salsa, beans and ginger daikon radish and Ribs de Cerdo Pork ribs glazed with chipotle chilli and served with fennel and apple.

Tofu was grilled to a firm crispy consistency. On the plate there was also edam and black beans seasoned with chilli/mango sauce, which really complemented the tofu

Ribs had delicous sauce but I think that fennel had been replaced with Pimientos de Padron. At least I could not find it, and apple was also difficult to find.

When you order main course from Latin Grill you need also to choose side dishes for them. Ordered Ensalada de quinoa Quinoa, red rice, lemon almonds and apple and Patatas fritas House made chips ja tomato aioli.

You might think that patatas fritas are like french fries, but english version tells already something else. First thought that they really were chips, but actually they were little bit thicker and softer. Excellent match with ribs, and would be also good option for starter.

Wine list is short but includes enough choises for Latin American food. Decided to enjoy bottle of Marques de Casa Concha 2013, made from Merlot grapes. Enough full-bodied and spicy to pair with herbs, salsas and slightly spiced food.

Restaurant has used material for decoration from different South American countries as well as Caribbean Island cultures. One example is Pinata hanging in the roof presenting Mexican plays.

Music comes also from the same direction as food and decoration. Welcomed genre, because you mostly hear same rythms from USA and UK in other restaurants and bars.

Food at Oficina is scrumptious and suits for many tastes. A little bit more spicies (read chilli) and herbs, then resataurant would be perfect small Latin America kitchen in Helsinki.

Service was polite and professional.

Overall grade is 4+ because this restaurant concept has been well designed. Everything around food complements it nicely.

Must come back some day later in the evening to check if Club Social continues with same music and athmosphere.

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

https://www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/oficina





Wine review: Amarone della Valpolicella di Sartori 2011

24 12 2016
Amarone of the month, Amarone della Valpolicella di Sartori 2011. Can not avoid buying Amarone, when it is Christmas.

Wineyard’s history goes back to 1898 when Pietro Sartori bought his first vineyard in Negrar. Nowadays Sartori’s success is in large part due to its international efforts, which represent over 80% of its sales in over 50 countries: throughout Europe like Finland, in North and South America, in Russia, in South East Asia. The labels on which the company is now focusing on are Regolo Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso DOC and Marani Bianco Veronese IGT. This makes me wonder, if Amarone is worth to try.
Grapes used in production are 50% Corvina Veronese, 40% Rondinella and 10% Molinara.


THE LOOK

Most Amarone bottle labes are modest without too much colors like Sartori

Intense red colour

THE NOSE

First feeling was coffee chololate. When you rotate the glass, you find typical aroma with hints of red fruit jam and spicy finish

THE TASTE

Also first taste is kind of coffee chocolate, which I have not recognized from other Amarones tasted. If you have tasted this wine, did you find the same aroma and taste?
Wine does not taste as sweet as many others, but it has same full bodines, of course.

Facts:

Alcohol: 15% by volume
Sugar: 9 g/l
Acids: 5,5 g/l
Energy: 90 kcal/100 ml
Extract: 39 g/l
Closure: natural cork


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Amarone della Valpolicella di Sartori 2011 is nuanced, developed and pairs well will rustic meat dishes It paires also with cheeses, like Comte as well as Castello blue and white cheeses, which were as desserts on Christmas table.

Amarone is always wine you can trust, if you like to enjoy something else than red water.

 

REVIEW: OVERALL GRADE 4-/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++ / +++

http://www.sartorinet.com/en/

 

 





Restaurant review: SPIS

10 12 2016

Restaurant SPIS is small 18-seat Nordic restaurant in Kasarminkatu, Helsinki. It is open only in the evenings. Because restaurant is tiny and very popular, during weekens you have to choose to dine at 0530/06.00PM or 0830PM. From Tuesday to Thursday dining starts between 0600-0800PM without time limit. And then and at “night shift” you can order Long Tasting Menu with six courses. However, with snacks and greetings from kitchen, you get over 10 plates front of you.

Enjoyed Short Tasting Menu with 4 courses. Price varies 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 surprise were crackers, which started the dinner. Had already ordered glass of champagne, bubbly and fresh.

Second snack were vegetable greetings from the kitchen, yellow root and spiced cucumber, so simple but always delicious.

And third snack was even more interesting and scrumptious, “spaghetti” with cloudberries. Creative way to combine ingredients, which you may not use together in your own kitchen.



After 3 apetizers kitchen brought first dish, starter, which name I do not unfortunately remember any more. First picture below tells more. As menu do not describe what it includes, post should be written quite soon after dining. Now it has gone three weeks.

Second dish was pike perch with two ways with onions. Pleasantly soft and tasty fish and sweet onions paired well with each other.

And third dish, second main course, was braised pork with fennel. Excellent mixture of salty meat and slightly sweet vegetable!



Before desserts we were served cup of cloudberry soup. This led perfectly to sweeter world of SPIS dishes.

First dessert was greetings from the kitchen, kind of apple crumble.

And fourth dish and actual dessert was cake, which melted in the mouth.

You can combine food with recommened wines with price of 36€, which we did. Because SPIS uses lot’s of vegetables and way of using spices is Nordic, also the wines are light.

With starter we were served sauvignon blanc, which unfortunately not, is my favourite wine.

For vegan version next two wines would have been orange wine, totally new experience, but after first glass changed it to stronger red wine from Italy, which was served with pork. Orange wine is produced from different white wine grapes, which have spent some maceration time in contact with the grape skins, giving the wine an orange color.

Must say that as a friend of full bodied red wines, would next time order a bottle of ripasso or something similar.

 

After asking for check, restaurant always serves final culinary pieces, some sweets on huge Lego brick

SPIS is one of the best Nordic food restaurants in Helsinki. Food served is well prepared, creative and tasty. And I really appreciate that restaurants goes through the trouble of preparing 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. However, this time it was sort of difficult to hear what waitresses explained to us.

Some changes in wines and overall grade would have been 5-.

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

 

http://spis.fi/





Wine review: Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2016 & Albert Bichot Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2016

20 11 2016

 

Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France. Wine is released for sale on the third Thursday of November. “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” used to see heavy marketing, with races to get the first bottles to different markets around the globe. But not any more.

The current release practice is to ship the wine ahead of the third Thursday of November, and release it to the local markets at 00.01 AM local time. In Finland Alko, monopoly company selling wines and alcohol, starts selling these wines at 09.00 on Thursday 17th November, 2016.

This year wines available from Alko were Albert Bichot Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau and Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau.

 

THE LOOK

Label of last year’s wine from Georges Duboeuf was much more colorful. Maybe it is time to slow down a bit? Did it scare consumers?

Both wines are almost violet, blue-reddish like young wines always are. The color in the first picture is a little too dark than wine is in natural.

THE NOSE

Fruity, even sweet aroma especially when using tasting glass. Rasberry and fruit candy scent came in to the nose from both wines.

It seems that Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau has more deep bouquet.

THE TASTE

Young, light fruity wines. Berries dominate, but on the other hand taste is skinny. Aroma is better than taste, but with unspiced food and pizzas, both wines pair well.

Facts:

                             Georges Duboeuf                                        Albert Bichot
Alcohol:        12,00 %                                             12,50 %
Extract:        30 g/l                                                28 g/l
Acidity:         5,5 g/l                                               5,3 g/l
Energy:         70 kcal / 100 ml (280 kJ / 100 ml)   80 kcal / 100 ml (290 kJ / 100 ml)

REVIEW:

Georges Duboeuf  OVERALL GRADE 4-/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++/+++

Albert Bichot OVERALL GRADE 3,5/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++/+++





Copas y Tapas – Finnish food & Spanish wines

18 11 2016

Restaurant Copas y Tapas is one of the best Finnish food restaurants in Helsinki. The name might be a bit misleading, but allmost all ingredients and dishes are Finnish. What is unique Spanish, are the wines, which are usually from small Spanish producers.

As have visited at Copas y Tapas several times, this post is not typical review. The idea is to clarify that restaurant serves Finnish food dispite the name. What is also remarkable that most of the ingredients come from local or small producers, which usually are listed when dishes are served to the tables.

Menu of the Day costs 49€. You can choose from four different main course; fish, vegetarian and usually from two meat options. Usually one meat dish is a little bit more expensive due to ingredient. Restaurant also prepares vegan versions. Recommend to ask for that when making reservation and you can enjoy delicious set of dishes.

Starters always include three bites, usually delicious soup and two other small dishes.

This time pictures tell more than writing. If you would like to know more about dishes, please ask.

 

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Usually let waiters to choose wines which pair with dishes.

This time had for aperitif Raventos i Blanc, nice and bubbly cava http://www.raventos.com/

For main courses recommendations were Laderas de Leonila with beetroots and Altos Iberico with ragu. Both wines matched perfectly with food.

Digestive or dessert drink was Gramona Gra a Gra from pinot noir grapes. Already favourite from last visits.

If you are interested in wines at Copas y Tapas you can always hear short lecture of wine origins, procuder and wine itself. Restaurant start to import themselves wines next spring, which sounds fascinating.



 

As Copas y Tapas is family run business, you can see it in the service. Extremely polite but natural.

This time shall only give overall points which is 5 without no hesitation.

http://www.en.copasytapas.fi/

 





Restaurant review: Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki

5 11 2016

Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki was established in October 15, 2012. It’s location is excellent, opposite to Stockmann Department store by Aleksi street. Dining room and bar are at the 2nd floor and shop at the 1st floor.

All restaurants must develop their operations in order to attract new customers and keep existing. Visited HRC in October 2016, when they had special vegetarian menu. Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki was celebrating Vegetarian Awareness Month by expanding its legendary menu offerings and introducing brand new limited-time meatless options.

For starters there were no vegan options available, so ordered only main courses.

Vegan main course was KEFTA BURGER A house made burger of potato, shiitakes, portabellas, balsamic glaze, barley, thyme and seasonings served on a burger bun with a sriracha hummus, arugula and tomato.

It is now easier to find vegetarian/vegan options in restaurants in the Helsinki area.  It was a nice option having a vegan burger made from other ingredients than lentils or chick peas.  The burger was juicy, and hummus was a good addition to the dressing.

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For meat dish ordered ORIGINAL LEGENDARY® BURGER Topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, golden fried onion ring, crisp lettuce and vine-ripened tomato.
Every half-pound burger (225g) is made with HRC proprietary blend of premium grade beef. Grilled medium well and served on toasted brioche with seasoned fries.
Must say that quality and taste of burger had improved a lot compared to last visit. Burger itself was enough “moist”, couple of times it had been quite dry making it almost difficult to eat. Also fries were well prepared, big enough not to be over cooked.

 

For wine had young 35 South Organic Cabernet-Carmenère-Merlot 2015. Wine was full-bodied, medium tannic, with blackcurrant and blueberry notes. For vegeterian month organic wine suited well.
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Below is a picture of Vegetarian Menu.   It could easily become part of the regular menu as they did a great job at putting the menu together.


Hard Rock Cafe chain is quite successful because of concept and food (if you do not dislike that kind of dishes). Service is quick and polite and always chance to practice english.

Once there was even Planet Hollywood in Helsinki, but global restaurant concept did not survive.

O’Learys has established restaurant in the capital area. Tries to serve similar food with sports concept. But unfortunately food is not at the level what HRC can offer

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

Some examples of decoration….

 

http://www.hardrock.com/locations/cafes3/menu.aspx?LocationID=627&MIBEnumID=3





Restaurant review: Blue Peter

25 10 2016

Blue Peter is situated on Lauttasaari island by Gulf of Finland 4 km from Helsinki city centre. In the summer time it is really popular due to large terraces and HSK sailing club members. Restaurant is open all year around hosting private events also in the winter time.

Had dinner in October on Friday. Because of Autumn vacations, restaurant was quite empty. On top of that windy weather might have reason for lack of customers.

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Menu changes nowadays enough often, which is good reason to visit nearby restaurant.

For starter ordered Spicy lobster soup by house and roasted brioche . Dish was delicious and tasted lobster, but meat pieces on the bottom of plate were pieces of crab. However, bull’s eye for soup!

Do not order sausages so often but decided to try House sausages with sauerkraut poultice and Jaloviina mustard. Basically dish would have been excellent, but as sausages were not enough warm = hot, had to decrease points. Additional side dish, sweet potato pyre, was tasty as well as sauerkraut.

Blue Peter is especially summer restaurant, but it does not mean, that in can be cozy also in the winter time.

Starterd earned 4 for Food, but main course dropped points.

But it is great that there is stylish dining place outside of Helsinki centre, because it is not easy to survive all year round. Especially in the summer one of the restaurants you should visit.

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

Eng

PS. click the link and check the video!








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