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.

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.

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


Some examples of decoration….

Greek Merlot red wines

29 07 2016

Greece is one of the most popular destination for Finnish holiday travellers in the summer time.

However, Greek wines are under valued and difficult to buy in Finland. Only 4 red and 4 white wines available in Alkos as shelf products and 4 more wines which you can pre-order. Greek restaurants, few in Helsinki, offer also some other Greek wines, which they import by themselves.

During our visit to Crete in July 2016, tasted few young, good and ok red wines. Focus was on Merlot grape, which is actually quite popular, but not as popular as local grapes like Agiorgitiko, Asyrtiko, Mavrodafni and Xinomavro. Sometimes Merlot is additional grape as in few wines tasted.

Chateau Julia Merlot 2011

Winery Domaine Costa Lazaridi with distinctive title “Chateau Julia”, was founded in Adriani, Drama in 1992. The first bottles were marketed also in 1992. Amethystos white, Amethystos Rose and Amethystos Red. Today the Estate produces five families of wines, Amethystos, Chateau Julia, Domaine Costa Lazaridi, Oenodea and Oenotria Land. Today company exports wines even to Sweden but not to Finland, yet.

Chateau Julia Merlot 2011 was facinating or even surprising wine. Unfortunately wine was served too warm, but did not want to use cooler although waitress asked it. Complex aromas of forest fruit, mint and eucalyptus; rare bouquet for Merlot wine. Taste was warm, full-bodied and due to aroma, a bit complex too. Requires food with spices, pairs well with gyros, for instance.


Chateau Julia


Karipidis Merlot 2012

The Karipidi Winery is a family business in Vounaina Thessaly in central Greece that manages 30 hectares of privately owned vineyards. The vineyards, which are registered in a institution for inspection and certification of biological products, are being cultivated exclusively with methods of biological agriculture.

Karipidis Merlot 2012 is organic wine and has aromatic bouquet with hints of plum, currant, chocolate and vanilla. Mouth-feel of high density flavor, rich structure and robust body.

Pairs well with shellfish and seafood pasta and vegan foods too.




Biblia Chora Red 2014

Domaine Biblia Chora was established in 1998 by Vangelis Gerovassilou and Vassilis Tsaktsarlis being one of the newest wineries. In June 2001, the construction of this modern Domain began. In the same year, the first wine was made. Today, the Estate has a private vineyard of 350 acres, which surround the winery, and in which Greek and foreign varieties are cultivated in accordance with the biological standards of viticulture.

Biblia Chora Red 2014 is produced from two grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon 50% and Merlot 50%. It has pure and complex bouquet of ripe red fruit, chocolate and some spicy notes on the finish. Intense flavour with a full body, good structure and a high tannin content, which provides a lasting aftertaste

Pairs with quite variety of foods because of Cabernet Sauvignon, which smoothens the taste.


Red wine


Melios Red Dry Wine

Domaine Brintziki cultivates vineyards owned 120 acres applying faithfully and with love of the principles of organic agriculture for many years planted with local varieties of Greek. Winery uses also the Avgoustiatis, which belongs to a group of very rare Greek varieties, grown in small size, few producers, but with remarkably high quality results. It is a red wine variety, which gives mostly red dry wines, leading the exploration of the world’s vineyard at the edges. Products product at winery are Tinaktorogos, Augoustiatis, Sign, Melios and Enipeas.

Melios Red Dry Wine is produced from Merlot 80% and Mavrodaphne 20% grapes. Wine has dark red color, intense aroma of red fruits, vanilla and cherry. Full mouth with soft tannins.

Pairs with meat, vegetables and pasta.

Unfortunately winery’s web-pages did not work properly.





Idisma Drios Merlot 2013

Wine Art Estate was created by Yannis Papadopoulos and Yannis Kalaitzidis 1993. 26 hectares of vineyards at a location known since ancient times for the cultivation of the vine and the production of wines, as indicated by the ruins of a Sanctuary of Dionysus. Wine Art aims to present how well certain Greek and cosmopolitan varieties are adapted to the microclimate of Drama. Towards this direction, a new wine, Chardonnay Idisma Drios was put to market in 1999. This was the first of a new range of products, Idisma Drios (“sweetly oaked”), to be followed by Assyrtiko, Merlot and Syrah.

Idisma Drios Merlot 2013 has deep purple colour. Quite complex bouquet of spices and dark berries.
Wine is balanced and has noble tannins. It is mature, full-bodied, with a long aftertaste.

Pairs with meat, cheeses and even with asian flavors.


Idisma Drios Merlot


As said earlier, Greek wines are undervalued. Many of the wineries produce organic tasty wines, but production amounts are so small, that many times only Greeks can enjoy of these wines.

Visited Agreco Farm which is partly tourist attraction but also produces organic wines. Wines are sold from their own shops and via some hotel chains and restaurants but production quantity does not allow export these wines.

Maybe some day there are more quality Greek wines available in Finland. But travellers should first choose better wines (not the best ones) instead of grape juice (house wines in caraffes).


Restaurant review: Grön

25 03 2016

The idea behind Grön, which was opened in November 2015, was to create tasty, focused, plant-based and  inspiring food that concentrates on high-quality ingredients. All this is prepared in an atmosphere that should make guests feel relaxed, happy and welcome.



Restaurant offers a small selection of à la carte dishes as well as a four course “Grön Menu”. The food is based on seasonal, organic, wild and the Scandinavian produce.

The name Grön (Green) also means that vegan and vegetarian dishes should be in major role. With only about 20 seats, Grön is one of the smallest restaurants in Helsinki. Therefore, with growing popularity, it is wise to reserve table in time.

For starters had vegan ones, Beetroot with beetroot leaves, woodruff flavours and beetroot broth and Broad beans “Nordic hummus”, seeds, sprouts and fermented buckwheat bread.



The idea of serving beetroot in different formats sounds brilliant but the uppermost taste was raw root. Dish was also quite difficult to eat due to long beetroot slices and big salad leaves after broth was poured on the vegetables. Must be careful not to splash red color on clothes.

Nordic hummus consistency was more like mashed potatoes.  Not very tasty.  What made this dish worth ordering was the buckwheat bread.  The consistency of this bread was very meaty; hard to believe it was bread.

For main courses had Smoked chicken with onion, jerusalem artichokes and a sauce of roasted chicken skins and as vegetarian option Celeriac cooked in grain crust  with grain “porridge” and hazelnut.



Smoked chicken was cooked properly as it was not dry. Also the taste of sauce was perfect and paired well with vegetables. The amount of potatoes was bounteous and partly concealed the taste of artichokes.

The main course…..Seeing the word “porridge” in quotation marks, made it sound like it would be porridge like, not actual porridge. To make things worse, the consistency was more like baby food.  If you’re vegan, make sure to ask to leave the cheese out.  It is not included in the list of ingredients, but it was mentioned by the waiter that it was what “made the dish”.

Restaurant has separate wine list in a small notebook and you could enjoy vintage wines, but the prices are not so affordable. Decided to order from “standard” list organic Marcosaras’s Chiopperttino, which tasted like a combination of cigar box and sheep stables. Very organic, very original would say.



Restaurant Grön is trendy place and it’s chef Toni Kostian was chosen as chef of the year at Gastro Fair in Helsinki on 18th March 2016. Gastro arranged competition between cook’s. As restaurant is small, one interesting detail of taking advantage of all facilities, is wine cabinet in toilet.

Service was polite and easy-going. When it comes to food, unique dishes and way to prepare them will keep restaurant busy for many months to come.



Restaurant review: The Mess

18 03 2016

The Mess claims to be the living room of the Mothership of Work (MoW) working space collective. MoW is recently opened co-working hub for creative companies and individuals. Restaurant The Mess, which was officially opened on the 4th of March 2016, serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and keeps doors open late night. Role models for concept come from New York.

Entrance divides restaurant in two spaces, bar/dining room with kitchen and second dining room. As music is played quite loud and if you only come to eat, second dining room might feel better.

Dinner menu is quite short which applies to wine list too. The Mess stresses that it has taken into account special diets as well as vegan choices. Therefore, post includes review of tasted vegan dishes.

For starter ordered HOD DOG Spiced pork sausage, red onoin jam, sauerkraut

%d bloggers like this: