Restaurant review: Savoy – world’s oldest design restaurant

9 03 2014

Savoy menu - reijosfood.com

What would be the right place to celebrate International Women’s Day?

Of course legendary Restaurant Savoy, world’s oldest design restaurant, which opened it’s doors first time in 1937. Since then it has been the flagship of Finnish gastronomy and restaurant culture in Helsinki.

The dining hall of Restaurant Savoy is an important part of Finnish design history. The interior was initially designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto in cooperation with textile artist Dora Jung and the then newly established Artek. Its pure and austere minimalism has remained in vogue for decades. Our table was at the covered patio with view to Esplanade Park and hotel Kämp.

We started the dinner with glasses of Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Latitude Extra Brut. Bouquet and taste of blanc de blancs champagne were perfect, felicitous kickoff for the dining.

Champagne at Savoy - reijosfood.com

There was good sounding tasting menu available and you could also pre-order pressed grouse menu (presser in the 1st picture), but we decided to try a la carte dishes.

Dinner started with greetings from the kitchen, white bean soup, which was delicious appetizer.

White bean soup at Savoy - reijosfood.com

For starters we had Tartare of brined salmon with Finnish caviar and avocado crème and Crème Ninon with lobster and Savoy’s air-dried duck breast

Salmon tartar was basic Finnish starter, well prepared, but nothing extraordinary.

Creme Ninon, “pea soup” flavored with champagne, was poured on top of the lobster pieces and dried duck was grated after that by waitress. This starter earned 5 because it was so scrumptious and of course the looks of the portion was fabulous. Fresh peas paired extremely well with lobster and duck.

Starter at Savoy - reijosfood.comStarter at Savoy - reijosfood.com

For main courses we ordered Roasted turbot with piquillo pepper tortellini and deep-fried anchovies and Pan-fried lavaret with blue mussel cassoulet and fennel.

Both fishes were well prepared as could be expected. But as French cuisine does not save butter, they were a little bit heavy. Moussel cassoulet was garbled and there was no need for asparagus.

Portions looked again stunning, no doubt about that.

Turbot at Savoy - reijosfood.comLavaret at Savoy - reijosfood.com

After main course we still had room for desserts and ordered Triple chocolate cake with passion fruit ice cream and Baba moistened with Savoy’s honey bock and honey ice cream.

But before those dishes kitchen served pre-dessert which actually could have been one of the desserts as it was so tasty.

Dessert at Savoy - reijosfood.com

Both desserts were excellent. There were three different layers inside the chocolate cake and it’s flavor was crushing. Honey suited well with baba and it should have been prepared in the kitchen as Savoy has their own beehives at the roof terrace.

Chocolate cake at Savoy - reijosfood.comBaba at Savoy - reijosfood.com

For wine we chose Riesling Münsterer Pittersberg Trocken which paird well with starters and main courses. Not too many mineral or petrol flavor.

Restaurant Savoy has style, no doubt about that. But it’s price level is at least the same as in Michelin restaurants or even higher. Food is delicious and portions look stunning. If you like the decor and view of the Esplanade Park (but you must have table at patio) then Savoy is right restaurant for you. But at the same price level you might also enjoy food at e.g Luomo, Olo or Postres, which all are located close to the park.

Park Esplanade - reijosfood.com

Service was professional except one mistake. Ordered double espresso with dessert, waitress came back to check if it was double, but still I was served small espresso which they had to replace. If I would have been responsible for serving I would have invoiced small espresso not double or even given it for free.

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

http://www.ravintolasavoy.fi/en

Savoy - reijosfood.comSavoy entrance - reijosfood.comSavoy table - reijosfood.comSavoy vase at Savoy - reijosfood.com

You might also be interested in to get more familiar with Alvar Aalto after visiting Savoy

http://www.alvaraalto.fi/index_en.htm





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.

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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!





Restaurant review: Meche

2 06 2013

Aperitives

Right away to shared number one place with exotic specialty HEAD OF PORK!

Meche was opened a year ago in June 2012. Food is based on European, mainly Finnish, cuisine and menu is seasonal and frequently renewed. Eating is a social event, starters and main course side dishes are to be enjoyed together between friends, around a table. We did not order Head of pork, but if you decide to do so, notice that both diners or 4 diners must share it and it has to be ordered two days beforehand.

Restaurant Meche is quite difficult to discover because there is no sign on the street, only window stickers to be noticed from the street when you drive past it and look for the restaurant carefully. Name comes from the street restaurant is located, Mechelininkatu.

For starters ordered “small plates” which can be shared among diners: OLIVE BREAD AND AIOLI, LANGOUSTINE AND TOMATO, LAVARET AND POTATO, LANGOUSTINE CARPACCIO and GAZPACHO WITH SHRIMP. Olive bread you should order anyway because it was marvelous due to tasty bread crust and olives. Because Laungoustine and tomato was warm waiter suggested to start with it; one of the best starters ever eaten! Lavaret was as good as it should be, basic Finnish spiced fish. Langoustine carpaccio was supplemented with perfect veggies and spices hiding well raw langoustine. Suggest you order Gazpacho only for your self because it is difficult to share; you may not even want to share it….All starters were well balanced and affordable priced. You might even want to take them all and forget main course.

 Gazpacho

For main courses had “big ones” CATCH OF THE DAY and BREAST OF DUCK. Fish of the day was pike perch which was maybe a little bit too salty. Side dishes included pieces of chorizo sausage. Maybe for fish it was too complicated but for duck excellent. Duck was well prepared, really tender. Black currant sauce for the duck was perfect companion. Fresh salad was to be shared among diners.

Pike perchDuck

For desserts ordered “small plates” CHOCOLATE AND MINT and RHUBARB AND ALMOND. Both ended dinner in style. Mint ice-cream was one of the best restaurant ice creams ever eaten.

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Although Meche was quite empty due to graduation parties it has winning formula. Excellent Finnish food supplemented with European savors and professional service. Wine list is short but all wines are carefully selected, no “me too” wines at all. Was going to order Spanish rose wine Radix Syrah from Bares Palta which was on the web wine list but unfortunately it was finished. Maybe next time can try it and look back on a holiday in Spain. Instead had German riesling and glass of Italian red wine suggested by the waiter for the duck.

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

Meche

http://www.meche.fi/en/index.html





Restaurant review: König

11 05 2013

This review is exceptional! If you want to know why, please continue reading…..

Tommy Hillfiger shop

Karl König was the very first owner of restaurant König and gave it his own name. Since that the name “König” has remained – in different floors with different kind of concepts , sometimes succcesful – sometimes not. Today, König serves variable menu, lunch buffet, karaoke, grooving bar and grand athmosphere? Excellent location, on pedestrian street Mikonkatu 4, opposite are Tommy Hilfiger shop and Galleria Esplanad. In the past years König had quite popular terrace, remember eating there several times.

But after Center-Inn sold König and few other restaurants to S-Group, would say it is time to say goodbay for efforts to serve anything else than fast food.

Dropped by in König restaurant & bar without knowing about the downturn it has faced. Arrived at 5PM on Friday, only one table in use. That should have ringed alarm bells!

A la carte menu did not include actual starters so decided to order only main courses.

Ordered Salmon salad Asian style salmon salad with fresh lettuce, grilled salmon, marinated vegetables and chili vinaigrette and as there was Asparagus weeks from special a la carte list Asparagus, lavaret and shrimps White and green asparagus, fried lavaret, shrimps, potatoes and vegettables.

Salmon saladLavaret and asparagus

What a dissappointment! Salmon piece was small and salty and salad wet. Marinated vegetables were mushrooms and onions! Maybe old salad was tried to hide under vinaigrette?

Lavaret had not seen salt (maybe salmon had it all) and asparagus were, how should I say it, interesting…Only positive thing was that fish bones had been removed from lavaret. Price for asparagus speciality was way too high considering the quality level. Can not remember when we had to leave restaurant eating only half of portions and had to eat again at home.

Salmon saladGreen asparagus

As König is part of huge bar complex with famous summer temptation “mummotunneli” (not so polite to translate), choose some other place for dining. It is not anymore what it used to be. We have not given so low grade before, but it is also partly because of price level which does not match with the bar type of dining room and quality of food. On top of this all wine bottles are over 40€’s which in this restaurant is odd. Had glass of Cono Sur Bicicleta riesling which partly saved the dinner.

One suggestion for the restaurant; please change the name….

Restaurant König

REVIEW: FOOD 1/5 – SERVICE 3-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 2-/5

http://www.center-inn.fi/konig/en/home

PS. Luckily Finland won Russia in Ice Hockey World Championship game 3-2 and leads now Preliminary round in Helsinki (half of the games are played in Stockholm)





Restaurant review: Brasserie Kämp

1 05 2013

Vappu at Brasserie Kämp

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. A shopping centre, Galleria Esplanad, was also opened within the same city block.

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 two years ago you can dine “outside” all year around like in many brasseries in Paris.

May Day (1st of May) is typical day for enjoying lunch buffets. Had May Day lunch served to the tables at Brasserie Kämp. A la carte list was short which made ordering easy; two starters, two main courses and two desserts. Foccacia and bread were grea compliments to start lunch.

Starter

Starters were QUAIL & SPRING CABBAGE & APPLE Quail terrine, poached egg of quail, poached spring cabbage, apple compote, apple purée, apple “ donut “ and ASPARAGUS & SHRIMP & KUMQUAT Sitrus- marinated white asparagus, green asparagus, kumquat, smoked shrimps, shrimp crème and cress

Both dishes were ok, but dissapointment for taste was obvious. Quil was tender and tasty, BRAVO! Shrimp starter was difficult to understand, what was the clue? Small portions but tasty….Unfortunately we did not understand all flavours of dishes, especially aspargus was not as we expected.

DSC03843

Main courses were LAVARET & NEW POTATO & PARMESAN Roasted lavaret , new potatoes, peas, radish, spring onion, zucchini, caper, parmesan veloute and DUCK & MOREL & POMEGRANATE Duck confit,, baked potato filled with morels, potato, shallot and chives, shallot crème, pomegranate and pomegranate-duck stock.

Cooking of lavaret was excellent; basic fish flavours. Duck confit was delicious, really well cooked. Could have eaten much more…..

LavaretDSC03845

Tried both desserts CHOCOLATE & DRIP BREAD Araguan- chocolate mousse, drip bread ice-cream and RHUBARB & STRAWBERRY & MEAD Marinated rhubarb, strawberries and mead sorbet.
Both desserts were great; Sauli Kemppainen and his team had really made their best. But using of milk was not so clear,,,,

StrawberryChocolate

Brasserie 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. Latest celebrity visitor at Hotel Kämp was Justin Bieber on 25th April!

BUT; May Day is a little bit difficult occasion to compare restaurants and dishes. Because of 1st of May we decided to be modest. Unfortunately we would give only 3+ for food if this would be normal lunch. Anyway, were were able to listen nice male choir singing for us.

Choir

DSC03857DSC03874

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

Normal lunch, only 3+ for food! But we like international athmosphere…..

http://www.hotelkamp.com/brasseriekampbareng





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: Kaarna

22 07 2012

Visited restaurant Kaarna second time this year. Last visit was not so succesfull for many reasons, but location and athmosphere attracted again.

https://reijosfood.com/2012/01/

Kaarna Bar & Kitchen is a laid-back Finnish restaurant with a Scandinavian twist. The restaurant opened in April 2009 offers simple and distinct flavours and wide selection of beers of microbreweries. Because of its central location, Forum shopping center, restaurant is easy to find. Its two floors (street bar in ground floor and dining room and “living room” in 2nd floor) offer an atmospheric setting for a longer get-together as well. Restaurant has two entrances, one is by the Mannerheim street and one is in the Forum shopping center on the 2nd floor. This entrance is closed when the shopping center is not open.

From Nordic Tapas (Snapas) list ordered our favourite Kaarna fish plate and Potato waffle, white fish roe and sour cream. Fish plate includes smoked vendace from Kitka, fresh salted salmon, old-fashioned pickled gherkin and sweet and sour rye bread. Always enjoyable and provides good example of traditional Finnish fish foods. White fish roe was delicious as always and especially suited well with potato waffle. Usually roe is served with blinis or toast bread.

For main courses Roasted salmon with false morel sauce and dill-potato bake and Fried white wish with horse radish and melted butter, asparagus and mashed potatoes. Had to send back false morel sauce because of sand/stones. It is very important to wash false morels well, otherwise might be dangerous for teeths. Both fishes were over roasted and fried, however smashed potato was tasty.

Interesting that kitchen uses same red sweet sauce as decoration for every dish.

Restaurant had improved a lot from last visit. Starters earned 4- but main courses downgraded points for food. Because of window table, view and affordable food pricing, overall grade increases.

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

http://www.ravintolakaarna.fi/








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