Restaurant review: Valo (Savonlinna)

17 07 2014

Savonlinna is an active and vibrant summertime town in Finland. The town itself and its surroundings are one of the most popular holiday regions in Finland. Beside enjoying the opera, admire the breathtaking scenery in and around the town, have a giggle at some of the eccentric local events, and listen to the legends associated with the historical sites.

Savonlinna Castle - reijosfood.com

Dined at restaurant Valo (in English Light) the fourth year in a row, is it becoming a habit? No it will not, read futher…..Other 2 reviews can be found by using search and writing Valo.

Valo in Savonlinna - reijosfood.com

Because one has to dine outside in order to be able observe opera guests walking to Savonlinna castle 200 meters from Valo restaurant by Saimaa lake, it would be important to have a good weather. In Valo one can also just have a drink at the forefront bar and do the same.

Restaurant Valo - reijosfood.com

Restaurant serves local Finnish food, evidence for that used to be the names of local producers on the a la carte list. This year the names of local producers had almost vanished. Reason? Many local residents and summer vacationers had pizza which seems to be quite nice looking. We decided to keep up traditions and order form a la carte list. But in the future….

For starters we ordered Salmon & dill Sugar and salt-cured salmon, fennel salad, dill maynonnaise and potato crisps and Snails.

Nice looking small fish portion was a little bit too salty. It included two potato chips. I would not mention those in explanation of portion. Snails were soft with lot’s of smelted butter.

Salmon starter at Valo - reijosfood.com

Escargots at Valo - reijosfood.com

Main courses were this time Trout Pan fried trout fillet,warm new potato salad with crab sauce and Fish of the day from Saimaa with trimmings of the day.

Kitchen made some changes to trout portion as we requested them, which was  proofpoint of customer service. But amazing was that waiter said that fish of the day should be pike-perch but we got Arctic char! That kind of mistake we have not seen for a long time.

Unfortunately both fishes were over fried and therefore dry.

Fish at Valo - reijosfood.comFish at Valo - reijosfood.com

For desserts we had after long discussion with waitress Chocolate cake and Berries.

Berries were not on the list but as there were no lactose-free desserts, berries were only ones kitchen could serve. Delicious chocolate cake included same berries as well as vanilla ice-cream.

Chocolate dessert at Valo - reijosfood.comBerries at Valo - reijosfood.com

For wine we had rose because only riesling on the wine list was too light and without any riesling character.

Rose wine at Valo - reijosfood.com

Next time when or if we dine at Valo we try pizza. Small and therefore over priced portions (but it is opera month) do not earn more than 3. Location and terrace increase overall grade.

The problem with Savonlinna restaurant scene has, is the lack of small privately own Finnish restaurants. Most in the center of town are owned nowadays by S-Group co-operative company. But it is difficult to keep up restaurant business, if there are customers only during summer months.

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

http://www.savonmafia.fi/products/product/82/

 





Restaurant review: Alberga – dinner and comedy theatre

8 02 2014

Alberga - reijosfood.com

Our visit to Alberga, one of the oldest theatre restaurants in Finland, was probably the 20th or at least something like that. And proof of our long history with Alberga was warm welcome handshake by owner,  when we arrived.

Theatre restaurant Alberga is family owned scene in Espoo, Leppävaara (Alberga in Swedish). Restaurant was established 1988 and since then it has presented over 1000 plays, mostly comedies.

We came to see “Rich, Dear and Work” performed by Minna Kivelä and Annu Valonen. Both are well known comediennes from TV series “Handy hostess”.

What a play! These comediennes are the best in Finland and made us laugh bellies ache.

There is always special theatre menu available consisting of one starter, two alternative main courses and one dessert. Dinner is served before the show which usually starts at 20.00.

Dinner started with Beetroot flavored salmon which is basic delicious Finnish dish and never let’s you down. Salmon must be enough thin in order not be chewy.

Salmon at Alberga - reijosfood.com

For main courses kitchen served Roasted Arctic char with lingonberry sauce and Fried sirloin with red wine sauce.

Fish included cooked potatoes and made portion again basic scrumptious Finnish plate. Sirloin was tender and properly roasted, meat inside was rose. Side dishes, oven potato and roasted root vegetables complemented the dose perfectly.

Acctic char at Alberga - reijosfood.comSirloin at Alberga - reijosfood.com

Dessert served was Parfait which included orange, chocolate and strawberry. Could have eaten three of them.

Parfait at Alberga - reijosfood.com

Theatre restaurant Alberga is more sedate than Kaksi kanaa, which is also popular scene (review was posted 4.3.2012).

Alberga - reijosfood.com

You should visit Alberga although you would not like theatre. It is totally different to follow up the show two meters from the small stage than sit in the back row of big hall. And most of the plays are enjoyable, well written and acted out. Athmosphere is relaxed and informal. Therefore Alberga earns 4,5 for overall grade.

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

http://www.ravintolaalberga.fi/





Restaurant review: Saaristo

22 06 2013

Restaurant SaaristoKlippan

Restaurant Saaristo (Archipelago in English) is located on the Klippan island. You can see the Empire-Helsinki skyline in the North and walls and bastions of King Gustav style Suomenlinna in the South. Jugend style villa that was built in 1898 but you can still admire the crafty and romantic Jugend style wood cuts and wood-carved animals in the beams and balconies.

Restaurant SaaristoRestaurant Saaristo barShip

Saaristo’s menu offers delicacies of Scandinavian cuisine. A connection boat serves from the Saaristo’s pier located south of the Olympia terminal, next to the Peace Statue. Summer restaurant which is open from May to September, is one of the rare places open on Midsummer’s Eve. Other restaurants are closed because most of the Helsinki residents rush to their summer cottages. Maybe Saaristo should also be closed in Midsummer because there were few diners and head waiter was sort of displeased. We had to wait 10 minutes while he served customers it the bar.

Saaristo boat

For starters had fresh local fish which are always refreshing especially in the summer. Ordered Whitefish à la ice-cellar whitefish roe and cauliflower prepared in two ways and Slightly cooked salmon cured with sugar and salt herbs of the House and fennel seed marinated cucumber. Both portions were excellent! Whitefish was really crisp and cauliflowers suited well with it. Roe was maybe needless because it did not match so well to ensemble. Salmon was also really high quality fish and wholeness perfect.

Ice cellar whitefishSalmon at Saaristo

For main courses had Sirloin of reindeer roasted with herbs truffle potato and dark porcini sauce and Arctic char smoked with Pihlajavesi alder Jerusalem artichoke ravioli and lobster butter. Reindeer was maybe the weakest link although it was crisp. Meat was ordered as medium but it was almost raw. Arctic char was smoked with skill and kithen could take well into consideration wishes we had.

Reindeer at SaaristoArctic Char at Saaristo

For dessert ordered An assortment of Nordic cheeses nut bread and honey seasoned with Saaristo’s lavender and waiters recommendation with it RIVESALTES AMBRÉ 2000, Cazes, AOC Rivesaltes, France. Cheeses were from Finland, Denmark and Sweden; Nordic ensemble. All of them were really tasty and sweet wine paired perfectly with them.

Cheeses at SaaristoSweet wineSweet wine

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

Restaurant Saaristo is good choice of those about 5 other island restaurants in front of the Helsinki. It is expensive if we take into account sizes of portions and price of 1 minute water taxi trip. Service in the table would have been 4/5 but happenings from restaurant door to the table dropped points.

http://www.asrestaurants.com/EN/restaurants/saaristo/presentation.html

One nice thing to watch after dinner were the sea birds with their cubs. Seagulls and Barnacle gooses had just got addition to their families and were taking care of them.

Seagull





Pocket guide: Order right fish in Helsinki restaurants

7 06 2013

Pike perchFishSmoked whitefishFishFishLavaret

This is an updated copy of post from July 2012 with some new pictures. As holiday season comes closer, hopefully you find this useful if you dine at restaurants in Helsinki.

Sometimes it might be difficult to order local dishes if you have not tried them before. Meat dishes are easier because chicken, pork and red meat arequite similar in each country. When it comes to fish there are more differences, therefore below is short guide for ordering right fish in restaurants.

1. Whitefish or Lavaret (Siika)

Whitefish or sometimes Lavaret is number one favourite. If it is available in the restaurant, order it. For starter marinated or spiced whitefish is excellent choice, better than salmon. For main course either roasted or fried, this non greasy white colored fish is delicious if properly prepared. It might be over roasted but fish restaurants know what they do. Whitefish roe is also tasty and again better than rainbow trout’s. First picture (Glogatan 4) below is smoked and second (Copas y Tapas) fried whitefish. Third one is home made oven baked fish, see the white fish meat.

Smoked whitefish2012-09-07-637Whitefish

2. Pike perch (Kuha)

Pike perch is one of the most expensive Finnish fishes. Meat is white and soft and tastes best when it is roasted or fried. Pike perch even suits for preparing sushi because it can be quite big fish. Pike perch will be familiar to you if you have eaten Mediterranean white meat fisheses, like sea bass. First picture from Meche, second from Havis and third from Copas y Tapas.

Pike perchPerch

3. Perch (Ahven)

Perch is maybe most common fish in Finland and also our national fish. Meat is white and tasty. Main issue are small fishbones, if not properlyremoved. But if you are in a better restaurant which has perch in their menu, it is worth to order. Meat of perch looks like meat of small sea bass. First picture is from Havis and second from Nuevo.

026

DSC02709

4. Arctic char (Nieriä or Rautu)

Arctic char is close to rainbow trout or even salmon. Meat is very lightly reddish and a little bit greasy. It is very popular and affordable fish and very often available in most restaurants. Main issue is over roasting but again good restaurants know how to prepare it. It is popular to combine morel sauce with this fish as well as with salmon. First picture is from Nuevo and second picture from Le Havre.

DSC02706Arctic char

5. Crayfish and Signal crayfish (Jokirapu and Täplärapu)

If you visit Helsinki, Finland between 21st July and end of October, you must try Crayfish (crawfish, spiny lobster), most popular shellfish in Finland. Many restaurants have crayfish menu’s. Although they are expensive, escpecially signal crayfishes, which have been imported from North America to Finland in 1960’s, you can also order them as a starter (usually 5-6) and enjoy hilarious athmosphere. If crayfish is really cheap make sure it is Finnish, it might have been imported as frozen from China.

Bon Appetit!





Special restaurant review: Strindberg

10 01 2013

This review is special because we had the honour to dine at restaurant Strindberg at the same time with our President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse Jenni. When the presidential couple left, changed light nods with the president.

Also this is special review due to 1st anniversary of reijosfood.com. Strindberg was one of the first reviewed restaurants in 2012.

Restaurant Strindberg, cafe’s and bar are located in Gallery Esplanade (ex Kämp Gallery) at North Esplanade. At street level is internationally fashioned café, very popular among tourists as well as Helsinki citizens. Just sit down, if you find a table and wait to be served, there is table service available. Mari cafe is behind main cafe, you can use Marimekko dishes and see Marimekko textiles.

On the second floor there is Strindberg à la carte, where we had dinner which also was the first restaurant reviewed in Helsinki 2013. The atmosphere at this restaurant is urban, but at the same time pleasantly peaceful. Sometimes loud discussion might make hearing difficult. Remember to ask for window table when making reservation! On the 5th January Christmas lights were still on the trees at Park Esplanade.

Park Esplanad

Library bar has become a popular rendez-vous spot for many. Worth a visit too although you would not dine, because you can observe diners through glass window. For us most visited bar, if having glass of wine after shopping.

THE DINNER

For starters had Toast Skagen and Chargrilled Arctic char tartare with horseradish crème fraîche, both very Scandinavian and Finnish dishes. At Strindberg you can always count on quality of Toast Skagen. Chargrill tasted suitably in Arctic char, really nice combination.

Toast SkagenArctic Char tartar

For main courses ordered Pan-fried lavaret, Puy lentils and beurre blanc with dill seeds and Braised veal cheeks with garlic and potato purée and thyme sauce. Instead of lentils asked for vegetables which was extremely succesful side dish for white fish. Cheek of veal was delicious because of long cooking time, really soft and crisp at the same time.

Cheek of vealWhitefhis

Desserts were French toast (Köyhät Ritarit) and Chokolate cake La Nègre and cardamom ice cream. French toast is traditional dish and sometimes it is still made at homes, actually quite easy. With add-on’s it makes your mouth drool, worth to try! Chokolate cake was served with fresh berries because we asked to leave ice-cream out.

Poor knightsCake

Food was excellent and overall grade gets good points because of location, decor and window view. Unfortunately this time service was not at the normal level either due to lack of personnel or tension due to visit of presidential couple. However, we got espresso, green tea and glass of grappa for free without whining. Proof of service attitude anyway.

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

http://www.strindberg.fi/en/restaurant





Restaurant review: Nuevo

10 11 2012

Restaurant Nuevo is situated in a old pedestrian precinct (Sofiankatu) between the Market Square and Senate Square. Nuevo’s decor and profile is modern.  The kitchen is inspired by the gastronomic regions of Spain, with regularly changing themed menus providing variety throughout the year. This time of the year Barcelona menu was served. Dinner can also started with Tapas.

Decided to start the dinner with Tapas Calamar Marinated octopus accompanied with chilli alioli and Tostada de rabo de toro Oxtail toast and with starter Ensalada de remolacha y queso Valdeón Salad with roasted beetroot and Valdeon cheese. Octopus was great, soft and tender.  Oxtail might have been more delicious without toast but it was nice combination. Basic beetroot salad was tasty as it should be. Promising start for the dinner.

For Platos principales (main course) chose Perca Fried perch accompanied with citrus potatoes and Piquillo sauce and Truhcha ártica Fried arctic char accompanied with oxtail risotto and caponata. Perch was well prepared and not too dry; shape was nice surprise, it was like roll. Archtic char was over cooked and if it would have been grilled without fish skin it might have been bulls eye. Now fish itself needed some salt, but risotto and sauce were really good.

For dessert coffee and tee but also original Spanish brandy…..this time Lepanto.

At 8PM restaurant was full; two big groups propably already celebrating little Christmas.

Nuevo is Spanish restaurant with Italian flavour as risotto and rocket salad were used. It is not usual to see rucola in spanish food. But so delicious….Maybe restaurant is a little bit old fashioned, but if you like Spanish gourmet food Nuevo is close it and also recommend  to visit Copas y Tapas which is quite near.

REVIEW: FOOD 3,5/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – Overall grade 4-/5

http://www.ravintolanuevo.fi/en

https://reijosfood.com/2012/09/08/restaurant-review-copas-y-tapas/





Restaurant review: Blue Peter (Game menu)

19 10 2012

Restaurant Blue Peter serves each year separate Game menu, this year on 16-28.10.2012. Menu includes venison (moose), reindeer and wild duck. Especially venison is hunted at this time. Visited Blue Peter a la carte dining room second time this year, previous review can be found from January reviews https://reijosfood.com/2012/01/27/restaurant-blue-peter/

Reserved table next to the fireplace because window tables begins to be cool at this time of year. This time fireplace was reserved for candles.

For starters ordered Roast reindeer, terrine of cauliflower and chanterelle, cranberry and onion compote and Venison soup. Reindeer was tender and tasty as it should be almost carpaccio but lightly roasted. Compote added needed sweetness for portion. Soup which included tiny vegetables was a little bit letdown but luckily rolls corrected first impression a lot. Venison could have tasted more.

For main courses had Duck stew in red wine sauce Lappish potato duchesse and Pan fried Arctic char, roe hollandaise, Lappish potatoes. Stew was delicious, on top of duchesse were a little bit bitter cowberries which supplemented almost sweet sauce well. Arctic char is quite nature fish with game as usually restaurant serves salmon. Both portions included Lappish potatoes which are floury puikula potatoes (no exact translation). Roe hollandaise sauce was tasty and complemented fish perfectly.

For dessert enjoyed Warm apple, vanilla sauce and Crepe with old time vanilla ice cream and jam. Apple dessert was bull’s eye, really sweet and enjoyable. Crepe, the best in the city, was again delicious.

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

Blue Peter focuses always on athmosphere and service which are important part of total experience. Wine recommendations were well designed and were important part of dinner. Especially can recommend red wine Nugan Estate from Durif grapes. Durif was unknown grape  for me before but had to buy one bottle to home in order to ensure it was so good as it was with starters.

http://www.bluepeter.fi/images/gamemenu.pdf

http://www.bluepeter.fi/articles/731/








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