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.

026

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: Sasso

25 05 2013

Sasso

Sasso, we have dined there before reform, but never have had so conflicting opinions as we had this time.

Royal Restaurants Ltd make up one of Finland’s largest private enterprise in the restaurant field with 27 restaurants in 21 locations. One of them is North Italian kitchen restaurant Sasso which Palace-Kamp Group sold to Royal Restaurants early 2013. After restoration Sasso was re-opened on 1st of May for May Day lunch.

Sasso chef Eero Vottonen, chef of the year 2012, was hired from Michelin restaurant Luomo. Ambitious objectives for the kitchen, obviously. Restaurant and its widened terrace are located in Pohjoisesplanadi 17 in Torikorttelit. Restaurant Fishmarket downstairs has same address.

Dinner started with Campari sodas and some bread. Butter or margarine had really salty olive groats on it.

Campari Soda

For starters ordered Mortadella di coniglio con ciliegie e pistacchio and Spigola marinata con olive verdi e basilico. Rabbit was confusing because of bitter cherries and salty olive paste, it did not taste at all. Seabass was great, it was ripe although waiter said it would be raw. This portion could also be main course if bigger with new crop potatoes.

For main courses had Salmone all’olio di oliva con carciofi e limone and Vitello ai ferri con asparaghi e pomodori. Again fish was well prepared and tasty. See the position of veal, is the new trend to place food on the other side of plate? Did something forgot from the plate? Veal was like entrecote, too greasy.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Because of small portions we had plenty of space for desserts; Tiramisu and Rabarbero all’arancia con latte di mandorle. Tiramisu was a relief for meat course, delicious and sweet with soft biscuits. Again, see the new trend in placing the food on plate! Almond milk was replaced with sorbet because of milk. Remember that in Spain we got almond milk without cow’s milk.

???????????????????????????????Dessert

Because of totally different views we had to judge meals (meat and fish) separately. Overall grade is 4 because of location and window table we had; opportunity to watch Havis Amanda statue and  Market Square. WInes are mainly Italian but moderately priced. Got first too warm white wine which was replaced without asking, polite gesture.

REVIEW for FISH: FOOD 4/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4/5

REVIEW for MEAT: FOOD 2+/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4/5

http://www.sasso.fi/etusivu (website is still unfinished and only in Finnish)

MantaRestaurant SassoMarket Square





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: Pirate Helsinki

21 04 2013

PiratePirate

Restaurant Pirate Helsinki is located in Southern Helsinki, Lauttasaari. First Pirate restaurant was established in Hanko and it serves also pizzas which Helsinki restaurant does not. You have to order food from the bar because there is no table service.  Pirate is a summer restaurant but it is open in December providing ambitious Christmas lunch with famous chefs.

Visited Pirate just when it has just opened also for weekends for the summer time.

For starters ordered Tomato Mozzarella and Parma Ham Rucola Bruschettas with Country French fries. Both bruschettas were nice and french fries really well made. Portion were quite big so they might even be enough for lunch but as we were having early dinner had decided to eat also main courses.

BruschettaMozarella bruschettaParma ham bruschetta

For main courses ordered Grilled king prawns, octopus with french fries, marinated vegetables and hollandaise sauce and Pirate smoked salmon with morel mushroom sauce and warm potato-vegetables salad. Prawns were OK but octopus was chewy; would also have prefered sauce in separate scoop. We had asked that for morel mushroom sauce…. Fish was well prepared as it was not smoked too long. Both portions included same looking side dishes; only difference was potatoes with salmon. Maybe too much oil used in vegetables.

Shrimps and octopusSmoked salmon

Restaurant Pirate is laid-back bistro and especially in the summer terrace is pleasant place to have a beer or two. Because restaurant was just opened we were the only diners at 0530PM. Because spring is so late all boats were still on the ground and surrounded restaurant.

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

If you visit Hanko some day, try Pirate because it is quite popular in the summer.

http://www.pirate.fi/?pinc=1&lng=helsinki

Pirate





Restaurant review: PureBistro

17 09 2012

PureBistro is a modern bistro and bar at the Market Square in Torikorttelit area. Restaurant serves uncomplicated but handmade and modern bistro food. PureBistro is owned by Michelin star restaurant Luomo chef”s Jouni Toivanen and Mika Mattila. Dining room is quite small as well as tables. Ask for window table and you can enjoy sea view and watch what happens at Market Square. At 8PM restaurant was full and you could mostly hear english and swedish; well marketed to hotels or travel agencies.

As the core value is fresh materials, the menu is short, but there is changing daily specials available. There might be for example a whole bird, fish or shellfish to be shared. This time restaurant had lamb as daily speciality. If it would still be summer you could enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the terraces.

Fresh bread is served in paper bag with caramelized butter. Unfortunately butterscotch taste did not match so well with white bread served, maybe it would have with rye bread.

Three courses cost 44€, if you order dishes separately bill would be 50€. During this visit prices were a little bit high compared to the level of portions.

For starters ordered SKAGEN and DUCK IN JAPAN. Skagen included brioche, shrimps, whitefish roe and chili mayonnaise. Not so typical brioche and chili could have tasted more. Duck in Japan was duck leg and foie terrine, bacon dashi and miso mayonnaise. Terrine was really delicious but could not found the taste of Japan.

For main courses ordered daily speciality LAMB MOROCCO STYLE and SALMON CONFIT ‘APIACEAE’. Lamb was too greasy and without taste of Morocco. Salmon was stewed in olive oil and should include set of flowers.  Fish was stewed perfectly as it was still partly red inside but set of flowers remains mystery. As pyre was asked to left out oufit was close to soup but no spoon available.


For dessert had QUEEN rasperry and blueberry and BANANA SPLIT. “Queen” was fresh but more like a juice. Banana Split was daily speciality but quite ordinary dessert.

Suggest to order from a la carte list instead of daily speciality. Hope PureBistro uses more spices because oriental names of the dishes make believe they are well flavoured. However, the location is perfect and athmosphere casual for chatting groups.

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

Restaurant website may be a little bit shocking… http://www.purebistro.fi/

http://www.torikorttelit.fi/fi/cat/ruoka-ja-juoma/





Restaurant review: Wanha Makasiini

4 08 2012

Restaurant Wanha Makasiini may be the best privately owned restaurant in Lappeenranta. After two experiences it earns recommendation; if you visit Lappeenranta dine at Wanha Makasiini! Old building itself is worth to see as it is “Old Storehouse”, pictures on the walls describe briefly the history of the building. Restaurant is located in the harbour near Sand Castle which is built each summer to attract tourists to Lappeenranta. You can dine inside or at the terrace depending on the weather. Although restaurant has fine dining menu you can also order pizzas which makes Wanha Makasiini versatile place.

Arrived to the restaurant at about 7PM and it was full; at 930PM it was empty; early dinner. Only Finnish diners this time although in Lappeenranta there are many visitors from neighbor country, Russia

For starters ordered again delicacy from the visit last time, no letdown this time either. Smoked vendace toast, smoked vendace mousse and roasted rye bread. Very simple but so delicious could have eaten 3 portions. Soft and suitably salty mousse blended in with rye bread roasted with butter tasted out of this world. Turkey pastrami, turkey on herb salad bed, marinated red onion and walnut vinaigrette was also simple dish. Turkey was tender; not too dry as it usually is.

Again fish for main courses. This time chose Fried salmon with spinach-pearl barley risotto and season vegetables. Chose this one because wanted to taste and compare barley vs rice as risotto ingredient. Taste and look was almost the same; a little bit bigger pearls but definately worth of trying, can recommend. Roasted whitefish and grilled prawns with lime sauce and grilled vegetables was the weakest link. Fish was over roasted and lime or bearnaise sauce not so attractive. Also prawns were quite small. Last year whitefish portion was excellent and roasted perfectly.

Because main courses were so generous decided to taste ice creams with tea and espresso. Home made Rasberry sorbet and Baileys ice cream ended the dinner appropriately. Next time have to try Mud cake because usually it “separates wheat from the chaff” when it comes to competence of the kitchen.

Because of easy-going athmosphere, renovation of the old building and location in the harbour, Wanha Makasiini earns 4 as an overall grade.

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

http://www.ravintolawanhamakasiini.fi/

http://hiekkalinna.lappeenranta.fi/en/

Some figures from Sand Castle below.





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/








%d bloggers like this: