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.





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/





Restaurant review: Kappeli

14 07 2012

Restaurant Kappeli – “the pearl of Espa” –  was opened to the public 1867 as summer restaurant but since 1970’s it has been open all year round. Latest renowation was in autumn 2011 still keeping same traditions in building structure. In the summer one can also dine at the outside terrace which is at the end of the building behind main terrace. If one wants to sit in the middle of the main terrace but inside, ask for oriel window table for two. It is small but charming and one can even watch bands and singers on stage opposite the restaurant.

A la carte consists of menus honoring famous Finnish artists or writers like Eino Leino, Sibelius and Juhani Aho. It also includes Finnish traditional fish and meat dishes. Wine list is artless and expensive which provides opportunity for the restaurant to improve it. Service needs some experience, forgot to serve us bread and no towel or cloth for Prosecco bottle.

For starters ordered Kappeli’s fish assortment – smoked salmon mousse, cold smoked Baltic herring skagen, smoked whitebait, cold smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and Caesar salad and chicken. Fish assortment was diverse but skagen was too salty.Wonder also why scrambled eggs were included? Caesar salad was as it should be.  Even the chicken was much better than last year, without skin and fresh. Great improvement!

For main courses had Grilled whitefish with spinach, Hollandaise sauce, potatoes with dill, butter and onion and Smoked salmon with creamy false morel sauce, potatoes with dill, 
butter and onion, baked tomato and zucchini. Whitefish was a little bit over grilled but potatoes in their butter onion sauce were excellent in both portions. Salmon was also a little bit too much smoked. Good achievement was that both portions were warm, almost hot.

In the summer the terrace of Kappeli is always crowded. Most of the diners inside were tourists; heard Spanish and German in nearby tables. Because of historical building and athmosphere Kappeli earns 4 as an overall grade.

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

http://www.kappeli.fi/index.php?id=frontpage





Island restaurants in Helsinki

4 07 2012

Kaivopuisto  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaivopuisto  (Kaivari) is one of the best known parks in Southern Helsinki. There are several nice cafes to stop off by the sea if one walks on the promenade. Many ambassadors of foreign countries locate also in one part of Kaivopuisto quarter.

One should try in the summer one or two of the fine dining island restaurants in front of Kaivopuisto. They are usually open only in the summer time because one has to go there with connection boats or water taxis. Summer starts on 1st of May when residents of Helsinki meet in Kaivopuisto for a picnic and island restaurants open doors for May Day lunch. Most of the restaurant buildings are worth to see as such. Remember; when crayfish season starts on 21st of July, island restaurants are fully booked.

The kitchen of restaurant HSS Boathouse offers seasonal treats with flavours from the New World.  The round two-storey dining room is in the architecturally unique building, which was built in 1949. Restaurant’s own description: Casual and relaxed. Stylish and fun. Those would most likely be the words used to describe Restaurant HSS Boathouse, if it was situated in, for instance, Martha’s Vineyards, Massachusetts.

http://www.palacekamp.fi/in_english/restaurants/boathouse/

NJK, the villa-type restaurant, located on the small island of Valkosaari, was built in 1900. The tall, spacious Middle room is surrounded by a bright covered veranda with large windows and a view towars the Market Square and Katajanokka. You can catch ferry to NJK near Olympic terminal.

http://www.ravintolanjk.fi/en

Restaurant Saari is located on the island Sirpalesaari. Saari provides Finnish delicacies of the season from land and sea as well as stunning views and genuine maritime atmosphere. You can catch connection boat to Sirpalesaari near cafe Carusel, but do not jump to water bus, it goes to Pihlajasaari. Visited Saari last summer and the experience was worth of 4+/5.

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

From Restaurant Saaristo in Klippan one can see the Empire-Helsinki skyline in the North, the ingenious walls and bastions of King Gustav style Suomenlinna in the South.  Atmospheric restaurant is over a hundred years old with crafty and romantic Jugend-style wood cuts and wood-carved animals in the beams and balconies. Previous name Klippan referred to name of the island. Connection boat serves from pier located near to Olympic terminal, next to the Peace Statue.

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

In the 18th century a fort was constructed on Särkkä island just off the coast of Helsinki to defend the city. Some wars later, in 1924, restaurant Särkänlinna was opened in that very fort. To this day it holds its place as one of the most unique summer restaurants in Helsinki. You can catch connection boat to restaurant near cafe Ursula.

http://www.palacekamp.fi/in_english/restaurants/restaurant_sarkanlinna/

Restaurant Uunisaari is only island restaurant open year around. In the winter time one can use bridge which will be built on the ice every year. Connection boat can be found near cafe Compass.

http://www.uunisaari.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=3&lang=fi

Hopefully you find this writing useful when choosing restaurant in the summer. Gonna dine in one of the above restaurants soon.





Restaurant review: Gastone

1 07 2012

Note! Kitchen under construction until Christmas 2012!

Restaurant Gastone represents Italian kitchen with style. It is privately owned one of the best Italian restaurants in Helsinki. In the summer one can dine at the small terrace. Inside tables are quite close to each other and at busiest time it might be quite noisy.

Home made bread with olive oil is always served as soon one has placed the order. Wide selecion of Italian wines to choose from the wine list.

For starters ordered Carpaccio organic beef carpaccio with parmesan cheese and aioli and Capesante marinate al lime e gamberi tigre Lime marinated Scallop, Grilled Tiger Prawn and Aioli. Carpaccio was tender and but not frozen as it might sometime be. Would have changed aioli to plain olive oil. Scallops are better when they are fried, prawns were a little bit too salty.

For main courses Pasta del pescatore Fresh Linguine Pasta with Tiger Prawns, Octopussy, Garlic and Herbs and Arrosto di Salmerino con sughetto di zafferano Roasted Arctic Char, saffron Broth and Fennel. For the fish ordered one of the four available side dishes Patate novelle alla Gastone Gastone Summer Potatoes.
Pasta
was delicious though it was a little bit over cooked. Fish portion included also onion which was not listed and neither waitress mentioned about it when asked. Archtic Char was also a little bit over roasted.

Ristorante Gastone has proven to be genuine Italian fine dining restaurant. Would have given 4 for food in several earlier visits.

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

http://www.gastone.fi/eng/index.html

On the other side of the street locates Grill Glöd https://reijosfood.com/2012/04/01/dinner-at-grill-glod/





Restaurant review: Farang

30 06 2012

Farang is a restaurant which serves modern Asian cuisine, located within the premises of the historical Kunsthalle. Farang offers unique and fresh flavors from Southeast Asia. Restaurant’s simplified, modern and atmospheric decor combined with the warm service and strong expertise in Asian cuisine creates an excellent setting for a comprehensive dining experience. One can also drink aperitif in the bar inside dining room and observe other diners. Farang is mentioned on Michelin guide as charming and best value restaurant.

Dediced to enjoy Farang Tasting menu which was real fireworks:

CHA PLU LEAF WITH SMOKED TROUT
roasted peanuts, trout roe

HAMACHI SASHIMI, VIETNAMESE STYLE
kingfish sashimi, asian herbs, black vinegar dressing

SOFT SHELL CRAB
green mango, mint, caramelized peanut, green ‘nahm jim’

CRISPY PORK WITH PALMSUGAR CARAMEL
crispy fried, braised pork with caramel and rice vinegar

THAI-ROTI BREAD, REDANG CURRY MORNING GLORY, CRISPY FRIED SALT & PEPPER TOFU
chinese water cress, bok choy, soft bean curd, battered crispy tofu

VEAL CHEEK ‘SEREMBAN’
slow braised veal cheeks, aromatic chili broth, ‘chili jam’ -sprout salad, noodles

THAI JASMINE RICE

‘HOLA HOLA 4′
Thai style marinated fruits, sweet peas, lime, vanilla-coconut stock, mango passion fruit sorbet

First dish was superb, rolled leaf around trout and enjoyed crisp and tasty dish. Kingfish was soft and spicy dressing complemented the flavour of fish. Crab was crispy but maybe a little bit too much fried. One of the favourites crispy pork with palmsugar caramel did not disappoint. In Taste of Helsinki it was a little bit over cooked but in an authentic environment just perfect. Tofu and thai roti bread were excellent; one could have eaten only bread with those sauces. Chinese watergrass is close to spinach. Veal cheek was tender and with dressing a great experience. Dessert was 4th version of Hola Hola, tasted better than we had a year ago. Tasting menu has not changed much since eaten last time, but can absolutely recommend it becase one has a chance to get familiar with different asian flavours. By ordering from a la carte list only few savors can be enjoyed.

Farang has few own Australian wines on their wine list. Red one suited well with pork and veal.

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

Only annoying fact due to strong and delicious aroma of spices is that one might need to air clothing after scrumptious dining.

Note: Farang is closed 2.7 – 30.7 due to summer vacations. Prepare to book table well in advance as restaurant is always full.

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

http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/web/Restaurant/Helsingfors-00100-Farang-308850-41102

If you have time to visit to Kunsthalle after lunch or before dinner it is worth of it – http://taidehalli.fi/english/





Restaurant review: Havis

23 06 2012

Restaurant Havis specializes in seasonal Finnish and Scandinavian seafood. It consists of three different dining room styles. Dining room Havis looks as historic as building restaurant is located. Decided to reserve window table from this room. One can see old Market Hall from the windows http://www.wanhakauppahalli.com/. Dining room Kitchen is by open-plan kitchen and dining room Terrace is more relaxed sheltered patio restaurant which might be cold sometimes.

Dinner started with kitchen’s greeting which was marvelous. Whitefish roe, smoked fish mousse and red onion; could have eaten dozens of those “glasses”.

For starters ordered Toast Skagen a la Havis and Terrine of cockerel from Viskilä farm with apple and parsnip. Toast Skagen was real fine dining, maybe best ever.  Terrine was tender and best parts were sweet sauces and pyres which complemented flavours.

For main coursed had  Pan-fried perch, spring vegetables and browned butter and Grilled fresh-water pike-perch with beetroot risotto and false morel.
Both fishes were great. Also ordered new potatoes because one might survive only with those during Midsummer. Maybe peas and pine seeds could have been left out from Perch but otherwise well done. Kitchen also was flexible as they were ready to modify portions.

Dessert this time was as many other times before Assorted cheeses  (piece / selection). Chose one French Livarotti and one Finnish Peltola Blue (blue cheese).
Both were tasty and recommend to purchase Peltola Blue to home instead of often too salty rivals if you like blue cheese.

     
     

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

http://www.ravintolahavis.fi/en

FYI: If you visit Helsinki in Midsummer, notice that almost all restaurants are closed on Friday and Saturday. Finn’s can be found from their cottages, boats and festivals, not from the city.








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