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: Kiila Food and Bar

9 12 2012

Food and Bar Kiila was opened on 2nd March 2012. Restaurant is open from morning until night offering breakfast, brunch on Sundays and public holidays, lunch, dinner and bar services.

Visited second time Kiila Food and bar just before Christmas. Major change had been made concerning a la carte list because serious affordable fine dining was not anymore main target. It does not mean that food would be worse but portions were not so ambitious they seemed to be in the beginning. More Finnish dishes than earlier, like fried vendace.

For starter ordered “Carnival plate by Kiila” for two including fried mozzarella sticks, chicken skewer, cherry tomatoes, carrot-, cucumber- and sweet pepper sticks, fried halloumi, mini bratwurst, bbq-, chili-mayonnese- and dill-sour cream- sauces. Tomatoes were missing but not so huge dissappointment. Chicken with bbq sauce was great as well as mozzarella. Otherwise quite simple portion because of ordinar vegetable sticks. But all sauces were delicious.

Starter

For main courses had Grilled Chicken Breast with roasted vegetables and sweet chili sauce and Giant Shrimps Pasta with chili-coriander sauce. Chicken was OK. Pasta was raw or it had dried after cooking. Seemed that base of the sauce was similar for both dishes. Have to say that pasta sauce was one of the most spicy in Finland.

ChickenPasta

For desserts ordered one sorbet because no other choise for lactose free dish and chocolate cake with mascarpone foam and blackberry syrup. Sorbet was OK and cake really delicious, maybe best part of dinner. Some black currant and red currant berries, very typical Finnish berries.

SorbetChocklate cake

Kiila seemed to be quite popular, no wonder. Prices are affordable and location perfect, you can watch Stockmann Christmas lights just opposite. Laid-back athmosphere makes it easy to come to the restaurant.

Stockmann

Some trouble with service again. White wine was warm when it was brought to the table, big tablespoons for dessert and had to pay at the cash desk, because no waiter/waitress was available.

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

Kiila

https://reijosfood.com/2012/04/08/restaurant-review-food-and-bar-kiila/

http://www.ravintolakiila.fi/





Restaurant review: Piccolo Mondo

19 08 2012

Restaurant Piccolo Mondo, located at Aleksi’s coutyard, is a family owned restaurant which has been operating in the same place since 1991. Inside dining hall has room for about 80 people and during the summer season terrace holds about 100 additional seating. Piccolo’s kitchen combines Mediterranean influences with Finnish traditional cuisine. You can order pasta, risotto, pizza, salad and seafood dishes as well as desserts. Restaurant has had same tables at the terrace quite long, suggest to replace them.

There are also two other restaurants at Aleksi’s coutyard (Aleksin Piha), Santa Fe and Grande Grill. Santa Fe serves tex mex food like fajitas and from June to August from Monday to Thursday you can enjoy live music performed by local artists. Piccolo Mondo customers can also hear and watch music. Grande Grill serves meat and sandwiches nad have same tables at the terrace as Santa Fe. Would say that Santa Fe is most popular restaurant of the three at Aleksi’s coutyard.

Started dinner with large Antipasto (8 pieces) including Mozzarella, gorgonzola, cold smoked salmon, prosciutto, marinated champignon mushrooms, olives, marinated artichoke and melon. Mozzarella was Buffala which was bonus, mushrooms tasted best, artichokes shoud have been grilled but now tasted too much for vinegar. In overall appearance of antipasto plate looked too much tinned food. Also ordered Bread Basket fresh bread and tapenade spread, maybe the most expensive bread in the restaurants but good.

Restaurant suggested to order Pike perch in August which we did. Fish came with steamed vegetables, potato cakes and shrimp remoulade. Wondered if chef had used white pepper instead of salt. Had to also add salt which is really rare for us. Also ordered Surf & Turf  Fried chicken breast fillet, jumbo shrimp skewer, coconut-citrus sauce and creamy white wine risotto. Chicken and shrimps were ok but risotto was more or less like porridge. For side dish ordered Mixed salad which balanced main courses well.

The terrace of Piccolo Mondo is casual and perfect place to eat pizza in the summer. It is more quiet (no own music and less noise) than other two restaurants at the Aleksi’s coutyard which makes conversation easier. If you decide to dine at coutyard and all tables are occupied, wait for a while close to the tables and run to released table right away because you are not the only one trying to do the same.

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

http://www.piccolomondo.fi/piccolomondo/english





Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki – opening comes closer

12 08 2012

Legendary music restaurant chain Hard Rock Cafe should have opened in Helsinki this Summer. There were rumours about coming opening already last Autumn but lets see if it will happen now. Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki will locate in the centre of Helsinki, in Aleksanterinkatu 21. Or was this a joke because of 1st of April; company had recruitment ad in main newspaper on that day?

Nearest restaurants are the moment in Stockholm and Copenhagen. Maybe we see shot glass with Helsinki name before Christmas.

Update on the 11th August: opening is postponed to late Autumn, maybe October. Lets see when the opening actually is?

Update on the 28th August, see FB link below

http://www.facebook.com/HardRock.Helsinki

http://www.hardrockcafe.fi/





Restaurant review: Brasserie Kämp

7 08 2012

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. The headquarters of the bank KOP were situated in the building for almost three decades, until 1995. A major restoration project, started in 1996, culminated in the reopening of Hotel Kämp in 1999 as a Luxury Collection property of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. A shopping centre, Kämp Galleria, was also opened within the same city block. All rock and pop stars spend their nights in Hotel Kämp. Last week Bruce Springsteen, the Boss, was there.

Dining at Hotel Kämp gives a possibility on a culinary journey from East to West. Eastern food is offered in restaurant YUME , where you can enjoy modern Asian hawkers- and finger food with a Modern Asian Temptations -concept. Brasserie Kämp offers a wide range of European food brasserie style and Kämp Bar offers you the unique cocktails; in fact mainly champagne, wine and beer which customers usually order. Bar is also very popular on Friday and Saturday evenings. You can also enjoy Sunday brunch at Brasserie Kämp. After building heated terrace a year ago you can dine “outside” all year around like in many brasseries in Paris. In the 2nd floor there used to be a la carte restaurant Signe for almost one year but it did not seem to exist anymore.

A la carte list is short which makes ordering easy, if you find suitable dish. Recommend to order gourmet “fast food” like salad or hamburger which is really luxorious. Especially French fries are maybe the best in the city.

Wanted to challenge kitchen and decided to order for starters ARTICHOKE RISOTTO Goat Gryere flavoured artichoke risotto rucola and SALMON CARPACCIO AND SCALLOPS Red Grapefruit vinegrette flavoured Salmon Carpaccio and fried Scallops with Asparagus salad and Le Grûyère AOC cheese. Taste of risotto was ok but quite mild. Main problem was wetness, it was like soup which risotto’s usually are not. Smelt cheese or lots of olive oil; difficult to taste. Scallops were perfectly fried as they were not like gum ball’s. Unfortunately not any more hot as they shoud be.  Salmon carpaccio is always delicious.

For main courses ordered CATCH OF THE DAY Fresh Fish of the Day which was Whitefish and season vegetables and Cord-fed Chicken Grilled Corn-Fed chicken served with Pumpkin puree and Barley, Madeira Sauce. Whitefish was roasted with professional way which enabled to eat also skin of the fish. Almost half of the season vegetables included lentils, maybe not so seasonal. Chicken was great, not too dry and pumpkin puree was delicious. Barley should be used more often in dishes as it was used in Wanha Makasiini few days earlier.

You could order cakes from the cake trolley but was too full. Green tea and coffee served from luxorious set of dishes ended dinner with glamour.

Brasserie and Cafe Kämp is perfect location to observe passers-by on Esplanadi promenade. You can also watch swanky cars parked front of Hotel Kämp or driving to the hotel garage.

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

http://www.hotelkamp.com/brasseriekampbareng





Restaurant review: Valo

3 08 2012

After 3,5 hour opera (The Magic Flute) in Savonlinna Opera Festival and 4 hour joyful Crayfish dinner and cruise on the Saimaa lake, it was relaxing to dine next day at restaurant Valo. Savonlinna Opera Festival celebrates 100 years history in 2012 and it gathers friends of opera each year. Maybe one can feel similar athmosphere in Verona but Savonlinna continues to live after opera as people dine and share opera experiences in nearby restaurants.

Dined at Valo second time and food was now better. Last year Whitefish was so over roasted it almost fractured. Because one has to dine outside in order to be able observe opera guests walking to Savonlinna castle 200 meters from Valo restaurant, it is important to have good weather. In Valo one can also just have a drink at the forefront bar and do the same. Restaurant serves local Finnish food, evidence for it was mentioning local producers in the a la carte list.

In Savonlinna one MUST eat vendaces! As they were only available for main course asked to get Vendaces from Pielavesi for starter without side dishes. Succeeded and they were simple but excellent, salty and partly crispy but not too creasy. From check noticed that price and name for starter was the same as in childrens menu. Another choice was Cold smoked salmon salad, cold smoked salmon with salad, marinated red onion, deep fried capers, sun dried tomatoes, marinated olives, lemon compote and bread. Add-on’s were not so Finnish and neither this starter beat vendaces.

For main courses had Rib from the Koivunotko wild board, barbeque sauce with potato and chorizo bake. Wild board was perfectly tender as it has been cooked 48 hours. Chorizo harmonized with potatoes well and gave some stroger savor to portion. Arctic Char with new potatoes from Kulennois and dill and whitewine sauce was enjoyable but as usual a little bit over fried. Restaurant mentioned producer or place of catching in both portions.

Almost forgot to take photos of desserts! Grand Marnier Parfait and strawberries was fresh and fruity. Home made chocolate cake and lingonberry ice cream tasted delicious. Soft and moist cake as it should be and rough ice cream with luscious lingonberry taste, almost whole berries.

Restaurant forgot to invoice bottle of Riesling wine as it was ordered from another waitress. Told that and got 20% discount for it.

Because of excellent location and athmosphere overall grade exceeds food and service grades. Restaurant is full before and after opera, therefore table reservation at those times is needed. During opera there are free tables available without need to make reservation.

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

http://www.savonmafia.fi/cms/media/32/VALO_ALA_CARTE.pdf

http://www.operafestival.fi/In_English/Front_page.iw3





Restaurant review: Toscanini

24 07 2012

Restaurant Toscanini has received its cheerful and relaxed atmosphere from Tuscany, Italy. There they offer  modern country style kitchen under the Tuscan lilies. Menu is based on the most essential elements of Italian kitchen, such as olive oil, herbs, tomatoes and Tuscan cheeses and cold cuts. In addition, bread is baked daily by restaurants own baker. Means that one gets fresh bread with olive oil and balsamico in the table quite after ordering food.

Location is perfect, almost opposite of Svenska Teatern and Stockmann. Being part of Klaus K hotel means that many of the dining customers also enjoy luxorious hotel premises. Recommend to spend at least one night there. Design hotel with white decoration in the lobby. In the same building there are Finnish gourmet restaurant Ilmatar and Ahjo night club.

Italian a la carte includes familiar italian goodies. Meant that in the nearby table language was italian. Wau, one of the waitresses spoke italian!

For starters enjoyed Lemon and herb flavoured salmon pastrami, poached fennel and Buffalo mozzarella, caramelized tomato, mangold beet and barrel aged balsamico. Salmon pastrami was delicious, coud have eaten double portion. Some problems with poached  fennel as asked it without lactose, got first portion with zucchini. After pointing out, got fresh fennel but not poached, unfortunately. Buffalo mozzarella is always delicious but tomatoes were a little bit difficult to eat. Mangold was chevy, but interesting experience anyway.

Olive oils and balsamico are favourites of Toscanini, can admire their dedication because we are talking about vintage oils.

For main courses ordered Homemade rigatoni with spicy italian sausage and chili flavoured tomato sauce and A whole fried sea bream served with caramelized tomatoes, green beans and spinach. Too few pieces of sausage, otherwise extremely delicious pasta dish. Portion sizes were more close to entrees. Fish was perfect, but little bit over fried, but delicious and enjoyable. Some more please!

For dessert Dolce della casa: Black currant and milk chocolate truffle, espresso and 4 cl Vecchia Romagna and  Lemon sorbet mixed with Prosecco. Italian brandy is as enjoyable as Spanish brandy. Espresso and chocolate are always nice way to end dinner. Lemon sorbet with vodka is our favourite, prosecco served with sorbet was maybe too mild combination.

Toscanini is one of the best Italian restaurants in Helsinki. Visited already Sasso, Tony’s deli and Gastone, some genuine Italian restaurants to visit still…..any suggestions?

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

http://www.toscanini.fi/en/frontpage

http://www.klauskhotel.com/en

Klaus K sponsored Taste of Helsinki and Toscanini was one of the 10 restaurants in the event.








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