Restaurant review: El Meson de Cervantes – Malaga, Spain

8 05 2014

200 Monges at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Tapeo Cervantes is already well-known for its traditional and new, creative tapas. Gabriel Spatz, founder of the original, a professional restaurateur from the Argentine, came to Malaga in 2008, decided to stay and opened El Tapeo de Cervantes at Calle Carcer 11 in the old quarter.  El Meson de Cervantes was opened later at Calle Alamos 11 in order to meet the demand by customers. Location is at the backyards of old town, far away from tourist flows. Both restaurants are now on Tripadvisor top 3 list.

El Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comEl Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Main allurement are tapas which you can order in three different sizes; tapas, 1/2 raciones or full raciones. You could also choose from restaurant menu different type of starters, main courses and desserts but menu is quite short. If you want to eat tapas at the dining room, you need to ask them in a polite way, although waiter might say that they are meant to eat at the bar.

We ordered two 1/2 raciones from tapas menu and all the rest from restaurant menu. Actually most of the dishes are the same. Dinner started with Pimientos del Padron, Warm salad of tuna, roasted peppers and green leaves and Patatas bravas.

Small salted green peppers are good choice to compare the quality of restaurant. These were excellent and what is most important, not too salty.

Tuna was perfectly fried as you can see in the picture below, not too well-done; therefore not dry. This portion is not so typical for tapas restaurant, it is an example of the high quality level of el Meson de Cervantes.

When potatoes arrived I first thought that “what the heck”, ketchup! But the sauce was made in restaurant, looked like ketchup and maybe included some, but it was deliciosly spicy. Perfect sauce for patatas bravas.

Pimientos del Padron at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comTuna fish salad at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comPatatas Bravas at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

For main courses we had 1/2 raciones of Argentinian entrecote with fried potatoes, salad and chimichurri, Wild boar stew with sweet Malaga wine sauce and crispy rosti and full portion of Racion del dia which was Dorada fish with fennel.

Entrecote was medium as requested, proof can be found in the picture below. Stew was excellent, some exotic spice made it one of the best dishes of the dinner. However, rosti was no so crisp but that did not bother.

Fish, in turn, was a slight dissappointment. It was prepared too early and fish skin was not anymore crisp.

Entrecote at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comWild board stew at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comDorada at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

After main course we tasted some Manchego cheese which was quite young. Maybe serving cheeses of different ages would have made the gusto inclusive.

Manchego cheese at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Dinner ended with Apple tart and vanilla ice-cream which was bull’seye. Difficult to beat warm, sweet and soft apple pie with cold ice-cream….

Apple tart at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

And the red wine…excellent choice. Wineyard states: “Deep, intense red with notes of ripe red fruit, tobacco, cedar, and truffles on the nose: very clean, intense aromas. Good body on the palate, with fine tannins from careful barrel-ageing, and very well-balanced. Ample mouth-feel with light notes of liquorice and a long, silky and elegant finish”. Exactly what 200 Monges Reserva 2006 was. Tempranillo 85% made the softness, Graciano 10% and Garnacha 5% gave the character. If this was reserva, would definately like to taste gran reserva.

El Meson de Cervantes serves premium tapas and Spanish food in a relaxed athmosphere. If you decide to dine at restaurant you can watch chef’s preparing portions in the open kitchen. You can also eat in more restful environment and enjoy to be served by professional waiters. Tapas bar provides opportunity for close social interaction. It was so crowded with customers that it was hard to get through when leaving. Restaurant is the place to visit out of hundreds of tapas bars and restaurants in Malaga, if you travel there.

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

http://www.elmesondecervantes.com/eng/index.html

http://www.vinicolareal.com/vinos.php?familia_vinos=31&id_vino=1

 





Restaurant review: Torero – Spanish whiff

23 04 2014

Torero Joensuu - reijosfood.com

Torero is Spanish type of restaurant chain locating in 5 cities on the same premises as Sokos Hotels. Same Spanish concept is used in Sevilla restaurants in the capital area. We dined at Torero Joensuu during Eastern time.

Menu consists of pinchos, tapas, fish and meat from the grill and other delicious sounding food. You could even order paella, which is not the easiest one to prepare.

After ordering we were first served warm tomato-goat cheese soup with fresh bread. Quite nice gesture from the chain restaurant to serve actually quite delicious appetizer. Have you ever served real appetizer in chain restaurants?

Appetizer at Torero - reijosfood.com

As friends of tapas we decided to try them as starters. We ordered Tapas Penedes Piquillo peppers filled with cream cheese and chorizo groats, Tapas Las Palmas (what a name…) Chicken breast, celery salad, piquillo peppers and chorizo ​​crumb and Pimiento de Padron Salted sweet green peppers.

Green peppers were as good as in most places in Spain, enough soft and not too much salted. Chicken breast was the weakest link, meat was already dry but celery salad compensated a little bit. Piquillo peppers were also excellent, maybe a little bit too much cream cheese but it did not bother.

Tapas at Torero - reijosfood.com

For main courses we had 2 x Chicken breast, creamy sherry pepper sauce, Spanish vegetables and French fries and 2 x Grilled salmon, shellfish sauce, roasted beetroot, pak choi, roasted almonds and tortilla española.

Chicken portion was not so Spanish as it could be; why not includ Papas Arragudas instead of French fries? Did not either understand why vegetables were Spanish; standard oven vegetables. However, for chain restaurant, basic portion. Salmon was overcooked but beetroot was roasted perfectly. If you like Spanish omelette, you would have liked this one.

Chicken at Torero - reijosfood.com

Salmon at Torero - reijosfood.com

For wine we chose Chilean Tormenta from Viogner grapes from Torres, which paired well with all dishes. Grapes are organically grown which makes the purchase more sustainable.

Torres Viognier - reijosfood.com

Torero is good choice for hotel restaurant, if you like Spanish-style food. Suggest to focus on tapas and pinchos because they are delicious. Of course every dish is not made from the very beginning in the kitchen but you get full belly and mostly can enjoy the food.

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

http://www.raflaamo.fi/torero

 

 





Restaurant review: Bronda – 4th BW restaurant in Helsinki

9 04 2014

Beef tartar at Bronda - reijosfood.com

Bronda, the 4th restaurant in Helsinki by Tomi Björck and Matti Wikberg, opened it’s doors on Monday 10th, 2014. Located on the corner of Eteläesplanadi and Korkeavuorenkatu, large space with high ceilings and big windows with otherwise plain interior design, offer interesting dining experience. Nautical roof lamps and mirrors on the wall are eye catchers.

The lounge bar is open until late and it offers view to Park Esplanade. It surely will be one of the most busiest bar in the district.

Bronda name comes from the building restaurant is located.

Bronda - reijosfood.com

Bronda’s dishes should reflect Europe and particularly countries Spain, Italy and France. The food is meant to be shared as in other BW restaurants Farang*, Gaijin* and Boulevard Social (*reviews available on reijosfood.com). Bronda concept is copied from those succesful Bib Gourmand restaurants; even same drinks with same exotic names are served.

First look at the menu was challenging; you could choose from snacks, fresh and/or warm dishes. So we decided to choose one of the two tasting menus, Menu Esplanad, with suggested wines.

Tasting menu at Bronda - reijosfood.com

Dinner started with Sashimi, aioli prawns and sorrel which were served on a wooden plate. Sashimi was prepared from lavaret (whitefish). Fish was soft and mellow and shrimps were fresh of course. In overall excellent combination after sorrel soup was poured into the bowls.

Sashimi and prawns at Bronda - reijosfood.com

Second dish was Beef tartar with butter milk and dried bread. If your read menu, you can see that there are lot’s of different ingredients used. I am not sure, if we could find all of them, but beef was tender anyway. This was also the first dish to be shared, so portion had to be divided in two parts.

Beef tartar at Bronda - reijosfood.com

Then we were served third and fourth dish at the same time; Fish stewed Basque style and  Risotto Milanese. Basque style meant mussels, chorizo and sherry flavored stock. Tempting, but at the same time challenging dish for the kitchen. Fish itself was ok, but one of the 5 mussels had not opened. No chorizo taste at all, actually one small bite was found. Risotto had waited serving some time as it was not so warm anymore. To prepare perfect structure, kitchen needs some more practice.

Fish and risotto at Bronda - reijosfood.comFish at Bronda - reijosfood.com

Last so called main course was dissappointing. On the menu it says Cotoletta which means schnitzel. However, more detailed description tells that you should get crisp pork chop. Bronda served dry Wiener Schnitzel with fennel salad and tomato compote. This dish dropped food grade below 4. I am sure this dish will not be as such on the menu in the future, but side dishes could be the same.

Wiener Schnitzel at Bronda - reijosfood.com

Dessert should have been Tiramisu, but as we had asked one menu lactose-free, one portion was replaced with Lemon pie Bronda without informing beforehand. However, both desserts were delicious and crowned the dinner. Pie included rosemary and thyme which made the experience exciting.

Tiramisu at Bronda - reijosfood.comLemon tart at Bronda - reijosfood.com

When it comes to recommended wines they are overpriced. You pay 50€ for 2 1/2 glasses of basic wines. Choose instead a bottle or glass from the list, because some wines are quite reasonably priced. For the tasting menu first wine should have been riesling but it was replaced by gruner-veltliner. Second glass, pinot noir, was poured from 1,5 litre bottle. Third, dessert wine, was 5 years old Madeira which paired well with desserts.

Bronda was full when we entered and was still full when we leaved. Relaxed athmosphere and loud background noise make restaurant perfect place for group gatherings. As snacks and some food are served in the bar, it will be the the most succesful part of concept. You can see Park Esplanade from the windows while dining and at the same time  can observe other people present in the bar. Although portions are well designed and look impressive, propably food is not the main issue. Main idea is social interaction.

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

http://ravintolabronda.fi/?lang=en

Read also this http://nyt.fi/a1305818948042





Restaurant review: Presto – A mangiare!

29 03 2014

Aperol Spritz at Presto - reijosfood.com

Italian restaurant Presto was opened on the 19th February, 2014. Restaurant concept consists of trattoria, caffe bar, prosecco lounge and shop.

Location is excellent, next to the Espa (Park Esplanade) and in the same building as restaurant Savoy. Presto replaced at the same time restaurant Katsomo, which used to serve Savoy theatre customers.

You can find traditional Italian dishes from the a la carte list like bruschetta, pasta, risotto and pizza. One speciality are mozzarella starters, which are served on a wooden plate with side dishes like salami, bresaola or parma ham.

Best way to evaluate the level of Italian kitchen in Finnish restaurant is to try those traditional dishes.

Started the dinner with Aperol Spritz, glass of Prosecco and excellent Focaccia, which was served after placing the order. First restaurant in Helsinki in which I have seen serving Aperol Spritz as aperitif and it is on the drinks menu. Unfortunately it was too dry, not enough Aperol.

Foccacia at Presto - reijosfoo.comAperol Spritz at Presto - reijosfood.com

Continued with Italian trattoria dishes and ordered for starters Bruschette with Bresaola and from Mozzarella bar Mozzarella di Bufala with artichokes and olives. We did not choose any cold meats with Mozzarella, as we had Bresaola with traditional bread.

Bruschettas were excellent and pieces of Bresaola tender. Could not be better in Italy. Also Mozzarella with side dishes was enjoyable. Soft and moist cheese comes from Italy; therefore difficult to screw up. Some restaurants use mozzarella made from cow milk and that is inexcusable.

Mozzarella at Presto - reijosfood.comBruschette at Presto - reijosfood.com

For main courses chose Pasta Orecchiette all’arrabiata Pasta with spicy tomato sauce and Salsiccia sausage and Melanzane alla Parmigiana Eggplant casserole.

As pasta’s and one risotto are not listed as “Primi Piatti”, expectation was that they would be enough big to be main courses. Pasta was enough big, but unfortunately it did not meet Italian pasta requirements. Tomato sauce was not enough spicy and it lacked sweetness. Or at least sausages should have been spicy, if sauce was not. Eggplant casserole was luckily delicious which compensated dissappointment is pasta.

Pasta at Presto - reijosfood.comEggplant casserole at Presto - reijosfood.com

Had to try desserts and selected from the list Torta alla Presto Pie of the day and Gelato Self-made ice-creams.

Both were mouth-watering! Lemon pie was really delicous and Peanut ice-cream and Cherry ice-cream one of the best ever tasted. It is possible just to drop by for espresso and dessert, which we shall certainly do.

Lemon Pie at Presto - reijosfood.comIce-cream at Presto - reijosfood.com

Presto claims to be trattoria, not ristorante, which is true. Recommend to ask table downstairs or from the small plateau between ground and second floor. You can see Park Esplanade plus downstairs is anyway more lively. Trattoria is on the second floor. Choose that if you want to eat at more restful dining room.

Prosecco Lounge in the 3rd floor has special hours between 16.00 – 18.00 on work days, but is is mainly reserved for theatre visitors. It was empty when we checked it at about 22.00 on Friday evening. The decor is the same as it was in restaurant Katsomo, not Italian type. If you take a closer look at the figures in the pictures on the wall, you might found some interesting.

Presto - reijosfood.comPresto bar - reijosfood.comProsecco Lounge at Presto - reijosfood.comDecor at Presto Prosecco Lounge - reijosfood.com

If pasta would have been better, Presto would have got 4 for food grade.  Higher overall grade 4+ comes because of nice concept which has not actually existed in Helsinki before, when it comes to Italian kitchen. Reasonably priced fresh and delicious food (most of them) in an relaxed athmosphere.

Wine list is short but again prices for wine glasses are reasonable. Some local, so called Italian restaurants, serve wine from barrels with low prices but the quality of wines is lousy. Presto serves proper Italian wines, no reason not to choose house wines.

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

http://www.ravintolapresto.fi/

https://www.facebook.com/prestohelsinki





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





Restaurant review: Yume – modern Asian cuisine

28 02 2014

Restaurant Yume - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Yume is part of Kämp Group, which also operates legendary luxury hotel Kämp. Yume serves asian flavours and dishes in a modern decor and is located in the same building as hotel Kämp. Inspired by the Jack Yoss Experience pop up restaurant which was at Yume in July 2012, restaurant’s menu changed and offers today a wide variety of modern asian food.

We arrived early at 5PM when restaurant opens. Reason for early arrival was Michael Buble concert, where we should be at 8PM latest when the warm-up band or actually accapella group Naturally 7 should start singing. Although we would have a little bit more than 2 hours to eat, we decided to order longer tasting menu

Menu Tiong Bahru

which included 7 dishes. Shorter menu would have included one dish less.

First two dishes were brought to the table at the same time

Fresh Spring Rolls

Fresh veggie spring roll, sweet chili sauce and black vinegar

Yellowtail Sashimi

Yellowtail sashimi, sweet soy-chili sauce

Veggie ment mainly sprouts which made first dish one-sided although rolls were delicious with sauces.

Sashimis were perfect, two pieces of soft fish for both. Suitably flavored sauce and vegetables made the dish masterpiece. We used chopsticks for sashimis as they were an option to be used for eating.

Sprubg rolls and sashimi at Yume - reijosfood.com

Third and fourth dishes were again at the same time on the table.

Pork Ribs

Pork Ribs and thai-chili sauce

Som Tum Salad

Spicy green papaya salad with cucumber and carrots

Pork ribs were juicy, crunchy and crisp at the same time. Sometimes candied pork, which is usually offered in modern asian restaurants, can be dry. These ribs were not candied and the way the were prepared was new for us. Extremely scrumptious, if you happen to like a little bit greasy pork.

Salad supplemented well this combination, better than rice would had. Noticed that kitchen had not yet served any rice which was good idea. Sometimes you might eat too much if rice is all the time on the table.

Pork ribs and salad at Yume - reijosfood.com

Pork ribs at Yume - reijosfood.com

Hot Stone

Beef/Lamb/Tofu tai Tiger Prawn

We chose tiger prawns instead of meat. Waitress instructed us first to fry prawns on the hot stone, then dip them to the sauce and add salt and chili powder. Understandable, because otherwise whole restaurant would have been filled with stick smoke as most of the tables would have used hot stones.

Tiger prawns at Yume - reijosfood.comTiger prawns on stone at Yume - reijosfood.com

Whitefish “sweet and sour”

Roasted whitefish, black sweet and sour sauce, fresh herb salad

Whitefish was best of all portions. First fish was roasted perfectly and then placed to the sauce in in order to get more flavor. Mint and other herbs completed this taste of heaven. And if you would still be hungry big bowl of rice would take it away. You could choose whitefish also from a la carte list from “warm dishes to share” section but for two I would suggest to order two portions. You would not like to share this one 🙂

Whitefish at Yume - reijosfood.comWhitefis and rice at Yume - reijosfood.com

Passionfruit Pudding

Passion pudding, coconut sorbet

Dessert was one of the best in asian type of fine dining restaurants. Not too asian but still asian flavors. Means that sometimes different type of vegetables and herbs used in desserts make them almost snack or main course, not dessert.

Pudding at Yume - reijosfood.com

Interesting detail was the location of extra cutlery. They were hidden in a small box under the table, but only on one side.

At 5PM restaurant was still empty as it has just opened it’s doors. At 7PM most of the tables were occupied although Canada played against USA in Sotshi Olympic Ice-Hockey games. Unfortunutely Finland had just lost to Sweden and will play for bronze medal.

Cutlery at Yume - reijosfood.comYume - reijosfood.com

For wine we chose Gysler Weinheimer Riesling Trocken 2010 from Pfalz, Germany. Dry, but not too dry riesling with enough acidity and fruit flavors paired well with oriental tastes. Also had glass of pinot noir from Bourgogne, France with ribs. This wine would have been served if you would have ordered matching wines with tasting menu.

Yume is one of the best “gourmet” asian cusine restaurants in Helsinki. As it is in the center of the city, next door to Hotel Kämp, it’s location is also perfect. Modern rhythm music is not too loud and most of the tables are not thick on the ground, which makes discussion possible. A little bit more spices in some of the dishes and then food would have also scored 4,5. Service was professional as expected.

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

http://ravintolayume.fi/en/





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: Blue Peter – all year round open yacht club

2 02 2014

Blue Peter - reijosfood.com

Blue Peter, covered by snow and ice, is a restaurant in Lappland…….Not exactly, but snowfall during the past 24 hours made me imagine so.

Blue Peter - reijosfood.com

Actually 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. On the evening we dined, there was a private party for 140 people. Not bad at all for summer restaurant.

For starters decided to order Smoked salmon mousse with malt bread and Thai-salmon soup from Soup and Salad menu, which ended the same day we dined.

Smoked salmon was more like hash than mousse because it was quite dry. Otherwise tasty starter. To add asian style spices to salmon soup is brilliant idea and must try also at home.

Smoked salmon mousse - reijosfood.comThai-salmon soup - reijosfood.com

Main courses were Reindeer fillet with game sauce and potato gratin and Whitefish, soy-ginger sauce and jasmin rice.

Reindeer was soft and tender and perfectly prepared. Potato gratin, I think, might have been more or less convenience food or not. Whitefish could have been fresher than it felt and sauce seemed to be more soy than ginger based. But whitefish is always delicious, choose it always if it is available in restaurant you eat.

Reindeer at Blue Peter - reijosfood.comWhitefish at Blue Peter - reijosfood.com

For desserts had to order the favourite one; Crepe with strawbarry jam and vanilla ice-cream. As the only lactose free dessert was sorbet we asked if kitchen could prepare something else and they did; Chocolate muffin with vanilla ice-cream.

Crepes are best in Helsinki, as I have stated in previous reviews, and can confirm it again. But pimped dessert was bull’s-eye, just baked muffin with ice-cream was really a sweet. We even suggested that restaurant should add it to their a la carte list. Let’s see if that will happen.

Crepe at Blue Peter - reijosfood.comMuffin and ice-cream at Blue Peter - reijosfood.com

For wine we had Weingut Liebfrauenstift Riesling QbA Trocken which is guaranteed safe choice. Suitable amount of acidity and minerals.

As you will get Geisha and/or Fazerin Sininen chocolate with coffee and bill that might be enough for dessert. Or nice take away to pamper yourself later.

Wine at Blue Peter - reijosfood.comCeisha chocolate - reijosfood.com

Blue Peter is especially summer restaurant but it does not mean that in can be cozy also in the winter time. Evening we visited there were decorations from past DTM, German Touring Car Masters, race in Helsinki. Wonder if there was some kind of remembrance earlier on coming next weekend?

???????????????????????????????Fireplace at Blue Peter - reijosfood.com

Desserts earned 4+ for Food but unevennes in starters and main courses dropped points. Our waitress forgot one of our orders, but as we got espresso and green tea for free, it corrected the event.

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 3,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4-/5

http://www.bluepeter.fi/articles/632/





Restaurant review: Pastis – French bistro

26 01 2014

Mussels at Pastis - reijosfood.com

Pastis is an anis-flavored liqueur and aperitif from France, but it is also French style “fine dining” bistro in Helsinki.

Pastis was opened in April 2013 by restaurant Muru celebrity chef owners. Similar concept but focus in French kitchen. Always available a la carte dishes in changing list are mussels, snails, sausages, fish and meat from France. On Fridays and Saturdays you can also enjoy fresh oysters for 5€ each or 12€, if you take 3.

Tables are located on two levels in small dining rooms but you could also try to pop in for a look if there is room by the bar counter. Reservations are for 2 1/2 hours which is just enough to eat three couse dinner. This is nowadays typical custome for popular “gourmet” bistros.

Started the dinner with Pastis, of course, Ricard. First hesitated a little bit to order ice cold aperitif, because if was freezing outside, around -13C degrees.

Ricard at Pastis - reijosfood.com

For starters we ordered Roquefort gratinated Bourgogne snails in pastis butter and Smoked mackerel, cucumber and fennel salad, marinated red onion.

Usually you get snails in snail pan where all snails are in small cups but Pastis served them in small open pan. Taste of Roquefort was perfect because if it would had dominated, starter would have been to salty. Mackarel was served with toast instead of brioche, as we asked it too be without lactose.

Snails at Pastis - reijosfood.comMackarel at Pastis - reijosfood.com

For main courses ordered only available fish portion Catch of the day Antiboise. Fish, “Cliff sole” was accompanied by tomato-based sauce/stew and by one of the 3 side dishes, Mixed salad with sherry vinegar, which had to be ordered separately. Also ordered large portion of Mussels á la Pastis with curry and Truffle salted french fries for side dish.

Fish was fried in oil and the level of maturity was perfect. It was a pity that it was over-salted. Mussels were smaller than you usually see, which was good as the big ones are chewy. About 10 had already came loose from the shells. Salt in fish and mussels under the broth were minor grievances, but took one quarter point out of the Food scores.

Fish at Pastis - reijosfood.comMussels and fries at Pastis - reijosfood.com

Dinner had to be ended with Calvados Domfrontains which is mix of apple and at least 30% pear. Had only tasted apple Calvados earlier and noticed that pear makes the flavor softer. Also ordered one House chocolate, which was truffle.

Calvados at Pastis - reijosfood.com

Restaurant or bistro Pastis is refreshing piece of French kitchen in Helsinki. Concept, which might by expanded to another locations, is French from decor to music. Chansons sang by Edith Piaf and check in a nice tin were the frosting for the French dinner.

Wines come mainly from France, of course, but it would be convenient to list also those which are available in glasses. Asked recommendations for wines for dishes ordered. Pinot Noir for snails was good choice but white wine for salty macarel not so felicitous. Riesling Vignoble d’E, Domaine Ostertag  from Alsace for both main courses was excellent choice.

Extra + for overall grade comes from the well planned and implemented French concept.

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

Pastis - reijosfood.comCheck at Pastis - reijosfood.com

http://www.pastis.fi/

https://fi-fi.facebook.com/pages/Ravintola-Pastis/249978811804861





Restaurant review: GOCE Bar & Kitchen – “gourmet” tapas in Helsinki

16 01 2014

Tapas at Goce - reijosfood.com

After vacation in Spain it was important to arrange smooth return to everyday life. Especially as winter arrived in Helsinki the same day. Therefore we decided to dine at new “gourmet” tapas place GOCE Bar & Kitchen.

Restaurant was re-opened in new premises in November 2013. We made reservation on 6th Jan and noticed couple of days later that a la carte list had shortened. Only two main courses and desserts. Reason why we decided to try a big bunch of tapas portions, which sounded delicious and were familiar from previous visits to Spain.

Chose 9 portions from the list. 10th, Grilled Secreto and Sofrito, was recommended by waitress. All portions looked well prepared when they arrived to the table.

Goce menu - reijosfood.com

First we got Pimientos de Padron, which were exactly as they should be. Warm, soft and not too salty.

Pimientos de Padron at Goce - reijosfood.com

Then arrived Gambas Plancha, see the burning flame in the middle of the plate! Delicious ones, but only three pieces.

Gambas Plancha at Goce - reijosfood.com

Annoying events started at this point.

As we were early diners, in fact the first ones, after restaurant had opened at 5PM, kitchen decided to prepare everything at once. That might be typical for affordable tapas bars, but at GOCE‘s price level, you expect to be able to enjoy warm dishes warm.

Our gambas were still uneaten when we got Patatas Bravas and Beetroot to the table. Both were delicious especially beetroot but we were now confused; which portions to eat next?

Potates and beetroot at Goce - reijosfood.com

We already had 4 dishes on the table and got 5th, PulpoOctopus. This one was not so successful as previous portions. It should have been more crisp or solid, but instead was too soft.

Pulpo at Goce - reijosfood.com

We managed to fill up our small plates in a hurry with mixed selection of 4 tapas portions but during we emptied plates came Boquerones, Chorizos, Iberico -pork and soon after that Green salad and Manchego cheese. It was easier to take a picture of all of them than to try photograph portions one by one.

Unfortunately we had to send back sausages and Iberico -pork because they were already cold when we started to focus to eat them. However, had tasted pork plate and did not want a replacement for that because meat pieces seemed to be mostly pigskin. Would not have done that, but waitress had encouraged us to order it.

Sausages were juicy as they should be and Manchego was ok. It could have been a little bit older compared to the price.

There was a pile of croutons on green salad which is odd, is it then green? As we were served fresh bread to start with, it would have been enough.

Goce tapas - reijosfood.com

Green salad at Goce - reijosfood.com

Restaurant and dining room are huge compared to any other bistros or tapas bars. Decoration is stylish, one of the most elegants in the city for concept GOCE has.

Goce Bar & Kitchen - reijosfood.comGoce - reijosfood.com

If we would have had enough time to enjoy tapas portions, GOCE Bar & Kitchen would have earned better scores for service. Waitress said that she tried to slow down the speed kitchen had. Therefore suggest to take couple of tapas to start with and then try main courses. Also would have appreciated if our plates would have been changed once or twice. We were asked if we want clean ones when we had only one piece of cheese left….

Would also hope that there would be more affordable choises for wines in the glass. At least found interesting basic tempranillo, Disco 2012, which paired well with all tapas portions.

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

http://goce.fi/





Restaurant reviews in Helsinki 2013 – breakthrough of “gourmet” bistros

10 01 2014

SPIS - reijosfood.comRestaurant Muru - reijosfood.com

Year 2013 ended up too soon. Did not have time to visit all those restaurants had planned. Anyway, breakthrough of “gourmet” bistros highlighted the year.

Bistros are relaxed, unformal dining spots with decent service and food.

In Helsinki, there has been established during couple of last years “gourmet” bistros, which compete with unique decoration, good service and well designed, delicious dishes. They also have short a la carte list and one or to menu alternatives. We could call some of these bistros restaurants, but part of them do not use that naming.

Example of “gourmet” food can be found from picture below which is taken at Spis. Whole portion consists of fresh vegetables but also of fish, which is uniquely prepared.

Salmon at Spies - reijosfood.com

As we were not able to visit all “gourmet” bistros in Helsinki, results were as follows:

1. Spis 13,50

2. Gastrobar Emo and Grotesk Winebar 13,25

3. Glogatan 4,  Meche and Muru 13,00

4. Farang  12,75

From these restaurants I would say Spis, Gastrobar Emo, Grotesk Winebar, Meche and Muru are so called “gourmet” bistros. Add also PureBistro which got 12,50 points and we can really call year 2013 “year of bistros”. 4 of the restaurants above have link to Michelin star restaurants, can you guess how?

Glogatan 4 is more restaurant than bistro and Farang serves asian gourmet kitchen, which you can not miss.

How Spis differs from other “gourmet” bistros? It serves greetings from kitchen between courses which others do not. That is one reason why it took the first place this year. It also has longer menus than others (full review at reijosfood.com)

Snacks - reijosfood.com

Why Grotesk Winebar succeeded although it is quite new? It serves rare delicacies which you do not get in other bistros. It also provides professional wine pairings with dishes (full review at reijosfood.com)

Quail - reijosfood.com

Why Gastrobar Emo earned 2nd place although it is one of the newest restaurants in Helsinki? It is partly owned by Pekka Terävä who owns Michelin star restaurant Olo. Olo might be the next 2 Michelin star restaurant as Chez Dominique closed down it’ doors.  (full review of Emo at reijosfood.com)

Halibut at Emo - reijosfood.com

Year 2012 results can be found from blog page Restaurant reviews – rankings.

Year 2014 will continue with review of “gourmet” bistro or tapas bar Goce which was opened in November 2013. We also might visit some of the most prestigious restaurants although “gourmet” bistros have modified restaurant field a lot.

Thanks for following my blog, commenting posts and liking at least some of them!





Restaurant review: El Senador – two lunch experiences

6 01 2014

El Senador - reijosfood.com

Had to write another post from winter holiday, because this restaurant does not let you down when it comes to Spanish food.

Restaurante El Senador is situated by the Maspalomas beach near Faro lighthouse. Have visited El Senador several times since 2006.  Because of the location it seems to be quite expensive compared to the restaurant premises. But on the other hand all tapas portions are so huge that they could be shared with 4 person. Both dining areas and bar are always crowded during lunch time.  This year review covers two visits.

Lunch 1:

For starters ordered Sopa de pescadores del Atlántico which was excellent. It included some bites of fish and shell-fish, mainly mussels and shrimps. Soup base was really delicious, but slightly over salted. Soup was brought to the table in big bowl. Then waitress ladled hot soup on the plates which was a proof of long tradition.

El Senador - reijosfood.com

Main course was our favourite Lubina a la sal con espinacas a la crema y patatas hervidas – Sea bass baked in a salt coat. Fresh fish is baked in salt coat, then it is brought to the table, waiter removes fish bones and you just enjoy the fish and side dishes. It is easy to overcook the fish when it is prepared this way. However, the taste of fresh sea bass is unbeatable. If you travel to Finland our whitefish tastes almost the same.

Lubina at El Senador - reijosfood.comSea bass at El Senador - reijosfood.com

Lunch 2:

Second lunch started with Pimientos de Padrón fritos – Deep-fried small green capsicums with coarse salt and Pan con ajo crujiente. As we had decided to eat Fideau for main course started had to be modest. In this restaurant Paellas and Fideua are huge. Small capsicums are, we think, the best available in Spain. Portion is huge which means two person can not empty the plate if main course will follow.

Small capsicums at El Senador - reijosfood.com

Main course was indeed Fideuà ciega (con choco, gambas y pescado limpios). Mostly Spanish eat Paella made from rice but as once ate in Salou so delicious Fideua, had to taste it also here. Unfortunately Fideua here did not beat the one is Salou. This was good no doubt about it, but as you have once had the ultimate taste experience, it is easy to be deviced slightly.

Fideua at El Senador - reijosfood.comFideua - reijosfood.com

El Senador is best place to eat local food for lunch in the area. Do not set too high expectations for the service. Restaurant serves thousands of visitors per day, so do not be too upstage. Service is enough good in order to keep the mood high.

If you decide to have drinks at the bar area you can also order food there and eat it in very, very relaxed athmosphere. But not among troublemakers because everyone is enough sophisticated to enjoy life evenly.

El Senador - reijosfood.com

Interesting detail is that you can find dry riesling white wine from Torres at the restaurant. That is what we had with Lubina, mostly enjoyed Vina Sol which paires enough well with tapas dishes.

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

http://www.restauranteelsenador.com/index.php/en/





Restaurant review: Ambassador – New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner

2 01 2014

Taittinger at Ambassador - reijosfood.com

The first review in 2014 is from last day of 2013, New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner at restaurant Ambassador. Restaurant is in Hotel Lopesan Costa Meloneras Resort, Spa & Casino where we stayed for couple of weeks.

One might think that Gran Canary Island is worn and old-fashioned which is partly true. But there is certain area, Costa Meloneras, which is new and peaceful. Lot’s of good restaurants but no disturbing pubs or night clubs. All hotels are 4-5 star large complexes but well designed and equipped.

Restaurant had prepared menu which sounded promising, but was it what we expected?

Restaurant Ambassador - reijosfood.com

Dining room was decorated well beforehand in order to create solemn athmosphere.

Ambassador - reijosfood.com

After mojito aperitifs, dinner started with four starters which was maybe the weakest link. Clams were ok, but otherwise ensamble did not convince. However, although the expectations were high were were not disappointed.

Appetizers at Ambassador - reijosfood.com

Asparagus with quail fillet paired well. As quail was so soft all you needed was spoon.

Asparagus at Ambassador - reijosfood.com

Turbot was perfectly cooked which might be difficult when kitchen prepares it to around 100 diners in quite tight time schedule.

Turbot at Ambassador - reijosfood.com

Between fish and meat champagne sherbet was served. It was sweet which is not typical when you still have one main course to go. Stick holding strawberry was also eatable.

Sorbet at Ambassador - reijosfood.com

Beef tenderloin continued the high level of competence kitchen has. Solomillo is popular meat dish in Spain and this one was one the best I have eaten.

Beef tenderloin at Ambassador - reijosfood.com

Forgot to take a picture of dessert which was really delicious. There was small cake inside mousse which crowned the dessert. Fresh fruits complemented dinner also quite nicely.

Dinner included whole bottle of  Taittinger Champagne which you could drink at the table or enjoy later when the year changed. That is what we did because after aperitif, couple of glasses of white and red wines it was good to have short break. Noticed that all that wine which was served was also enjoyed by couple of tables. Maybe not good idea thinking about morning feeling.

The whole dinner was real success! Food was good, service professional and you could really be satisfied for the set up arranged by hotel restaurant. Most of the diners seemed to be Spanish and I shall bet we were the only ones from Finland.

Tradition is also to get “party bags” as presents after leaving dining room. Found quite nice mask from it and used it almost he whole evening.

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





Restaurant review: Pirate Helsinki – Christmas buffet

20 12 2013

Santa Claus - reijosfood.com

Traditional Finnish Christmas buffet usually includes freshly salted fishes, roes, Christmas ham, casseroles and rosolli (beetroot, pickled cucumber, apple, carrot and whipped cream). Restaurant Pirate Helsinki did not serve casseroles but instead of that many rare delicacy traditional dishes.

Pirate Helsinki served 5th time Christmas buffet in cozy and vivacious athmosphere. Silent Santa Claus welcomed guests next to the entrance.

Menu is unfortunately only in Finnish but it includes for instance herrings, roes, smoked fishes, game dishes and different type of roots. For dessert you can choose Finnish cheeses and sweet desserts.

Pirate Christmas menu - reijosfood.com

Only dish served to the table, first on the menu, was chestnut soup, which was delicious. Mulled wine, however was not the best one tasted, as it was partly based on Wana Tallin liqueur.

Chestnut soup - reijosfood.com

All other foods and dishes were on the buffet tables. Because of the wide selection of dishes available, I am not going to bore you by writing detailed description and review of each piece of food tasted. Instead, picture is worth of a thousand words.

Pirate buffet - reijosfood.comPirate buffet - reijosfood.comPirate buffet - reijosfood.comPirate buffet - reijosfood.com

Buffets can be insidious, you can eat too much and you notice it only after you have finished dinner. But if you decide just to taste small pieces of each food, then you can survive.

First plate: roes, freshly salted fish and herrings

Second plate: not picture but included warm fish dishes

Third plate: raindeer and elk with parsnip pyre and boletus stew

Fourth plate: Finnish cheeses

Fifth plate: gingerbreads, gingerbread cupcake, macaroni, marmalades and chcolates

Pirate - reijosfood.comPirate - reijosfood.comPirate - reijosfood.comPirate - reijosfood.com

Pirate manages well in serving Christmas buffet dinner. In the summer time going is more simple but as relaxed. Chef Markus Maulavirta was helping in the kitchen which could be seen in the high level of buffet. One + more for the overall grade if wine list would have been as luxorious as buffet. Three white and red wines do not necessarily pair with all available savory foods.

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

Santa Claus II - reijosfood.comMerry Christmas - reijosfood.com

http://www.pirate.fi/index.php?pinc=1&lng=joulu





Restaurant review: SPIS – pure Nordic cuisine

1 12 2013

Spies - reijosfood.com

What is Nordic cuisine? It is delicious fresh food with lots of vegetables, good service, pleasant athmosphere and Nordic/Finnish background music!

Restaurant Spis is cozy 18-seat Nordic, maybe the smallest fine dining restaurant in Helsinki. It is open only in the evenings from Tuesday to Saturday. Because of the size and popularity, you have to choose to dine early at 0530PM/0600PM or to eat at later table setting at 0830PM. Spis serves two tasting menus, there is no separate a la carte list available.

Visited first time Spis over a year ago and experience was impressive. Restaurant got 13,25 points which is as good achievement as this years leaders have been able to get. Or maybe we have been more picky this year?

Dinner started with snacks; several of them which differentiate Spis from many bistros in Helsinki.

First we were served crispbread with sauerkraut mayonnaise. After crispbread we were served root fireworks! You started from right with potato, carrot, striperoot and ended up to turnip. Not sure if striperoot is right translation for raitajuuri, but it is like beetroot. Each Finnish delicacy, which were eaten with fingers, included right seasoning or herb. Forget potato chips and peanuts, offer this type of snacks also at home.

Crisbread - reijosfood.comSnacks - reijosfood.com

Greeting from kitchen, which was brought to the table by one of the chef’s, was vorschmack with sour cream. Good example of Finnish traditional food but prepared totally different way than usually. Minced meat was not so salty and greasy as it usually is and taste of anchovis was in balance.

Vorschmack - reijosfood.com

For starter we got vitamin bomb which included beetroot and yellowroot. As snacks alread included one relative root you really have chance to try many Finnish fresh and good tasting roots.

Starter at Spis - reijosfood.com

First warm main course was salmon with dried carrots and carrot spaghetti. Salmon was almost raw but it was not at the same time. Probably it had been steamed as it was so soft but there was no frying or roasting marks. Carrots had been first dried for 6 hours and then boiled. Prepared that way sweetness of carrots came to prominence and complimented salty (not too much) salmon well.

Salmon at Spies - reijosfood.com

Between main courses we got apple sorbets, nice way to clean the mouth.

Sorbet  - reijosfood.com

Spis served for second warm main course lamb ribs with potatoes. Best part of this portion was French red wine which paired perfectly with lamb. Unfortunately meat was too greasy for us and potatoes reminded too much of those you can get from frozen food lockers. But the sauce was scrumptious and it saved a lot.

Lamb - reijosfood.com

Intermediate dessert consisted of pear cake and meringue. Auts, it was so yammy you could have continued eating for ever. But as you might guess, portions are not so big…

Sorbet - reijosfood.com

Actual dessert was silver toffee ice-cream which made you hesitate thought you had when eating previous dessert. This one you could continue to eat forever…. Silver toffee (hopeatoffee) used to be favourite candy in the childhood and now you can again get it from the supermarkets, excellent! Using silver toffee in dessert is big proof that you are eating in a genuine Nordic/Finnish restaurant as this type of toffee is available only in Finland.

Spis also takes care of food allergies, therefore one dessert was sorbet.

Silver toffee - reijosfood.com

Gittasorbet - reijosfood.com?

Dinner ended up with tea and espresso. But as you are able to taste Ålvados which is calvados from Åland you have to do it. Take a look at the bottle, there is glass apple inside. And with dessert drinks still some sweets. Great way to end the dinner.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Ålvados - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Spis would have earned 5- for food if the lamb would not have been so greasy (most people would have liked it that way). Service was professional; contents of portions were explained well and suggestions for wines were one of the most succesful so far.

The food itself is excellent and probably one the healthiest you can eat at the restaurants. Background music was mainly new Finnish and Swedish sounds which is also quite unique.

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

And last but not least, take a look at Marimekko Unikko towels in the restroom! If we are not in THE Nordic restaurant, then where? SPIS is now new leader with 13,50 points!

Marimekko Unikko - reijosfood. com

http://spis.fi/

https://reijosfood.com/2012/08/10/restaurant-review-spis/








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