Restaurant review: SPIS – hidden gem in Kasarmikatu

20 10 2019

Restaurant SPIS is small 18-seat Nordic restaurant in Kasarminkatu, Helsinki. SPIS serves pure Nordic food, therefore it is excellent place to dine, if want to get familiar with local dishes. Visited first time SPIS already in 2015 when it was selected as restaurant of the year. Since then it has been able to keep high standards when it comes to cuisine and service.

Enjoyed Short Tasting Menu because dinner started already at 17.30. Prices vary from 50-57€ depending on ingredients. Vegan menu is also available, which is not yet so typical for fine dining bistros. But this is quite natural for SPIS, as main ingredients used are vegetables.

 

First surprises were “crackers” in two forms, which started the dinner. Had already ordered glass of champagne, which had tiny bubbles and was refreshing.

First dishes were soup and sortiment of local veggies. Tasty and well prepared.

Then restaurant served scallop with cucumber, which paired perfectly with each other. Then it was time to melt food with sorbet.

Main dish was enough big to make you full and now the wine was red.

Two desserts finalized the dinner.

Restaurant is located in Kasarmikatu and when it is closed, it easy to bypass it without noticing.

Pairing wines can be also ordered with the price of 34€. For digestive ordered Helsinki Applejack  which is a spirit produced from the best Finnish apples. Today in Finland there are several distilleries producing famous gins, whiskies and other excellent spirits and The Helsinki Distilling Company is one of them.

SPIS is one of the best Nordic food restaurants in Helsinki. Food served is well prepared, creative and tasty. And I really appreciate that restaurant is willing to prepare all snacks between the dishes.

Service has always been one of the strengths of restaurant. Chef”s bring some of the dishes to tables, which makes the dining more intimate.

Can warmly recommend SPIS!

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

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Restaurant review: The Souk

12 10 2019

Restaurant The Souk was opened in October 2019 in Kortteli at 5th floor in Kamppi Shopping Center. Before The Souk restaurant Jord was at the same location, but it moved to Kruunuhaka. Restaurant still had empty tables on Friday afternoon although almost all other restaurants in Kortteli were already very busy. The Souk does not yet have web pages either it is listed on Kamppi pages when writing this blog. One reason for not yet being that busy as the other restaurants.

Menu as well as wine list are short. The name of the restaurant reflects the cuisine, hints from Middle East and Mediterranean. First you get small tasty bruchetta’s with tapenade.

For starters ordered Cauliflower wings and Warm goat cheese & beetroot carpaccio. Cauliflower portion was huge for starter, could have been shared. Goat cheese on top of beetroots was as it should be. Difficult to fail when warming up cheese on grill.

Main courses were Spinach Arancini and Roasted Chicken Supreme. With main courses one has to choose one side dish, in our case they were Potatoes and Souk salad.

On the menu it is written risotto as one of the main courses, so it was a little surprise to get filled rice balls. Forgot to ask, if this was vegan version of risotto. Arancinis were big enough to fill up really hungry stomachs. But after wings a little bit too much.

Chicken was nicely cut into two pieces. Sauce was tasty and paired well with roasted meat. Side dish was modest consisting of some canned veggies on top of basic green salad.

For wine had Italian Conti Serristori from Sangiovese grapes. Light but paired nicely with low-spicy dishes.

The Souk will be busy in the coming evenings and lunch hours due to location. Kortteli restaurant area is popular especially in the cold and rainy season which has started already in Finland. Restaurant will definately develop during the first months after opening.

 

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





Restaurant review – Penelope

7 09 2019

PLATO PEQUEÑO, GRAN SABOR

Restaurant Penelope was opened late 2018 by celebrity chef’s Hans Välimäki and Arto Rastas. Modern fine dining tapas kind of bistro serves well desingned and tasteful dishes. Restaurant has 60 seats but you can also dine by the bar desk as we did at the first time or in the summer time at the terrace.

Had 8 course dinner when eating first time. This time let you enjoy pictures because Penelope is one of the best restaurants in Helsinki, when it comes to international food.

Ordered for wine Enemigo Mío Garnacha from Casa Rojo. Cherry red wine with purple trim. The nose is fruity and floral, with notes of rose petals. Delicate, elegant, with a rich complexity in which the aromas of red fruits and balsamic. Nice with all dishes enjoyed.

 

Restaurant is cozy and laid-back. You can see chef’s working in the open kitchen.

Food is excellent and dishes well prepared. Service was professional but as we dined by the bar desk, there were some limitations.

Waiting for third visit…

 

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

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Restaurant review: Taqueria El Rey Annankatu

21 04 2019

Taqueria El Rey opened it’s big brother (or sister) in Annankatu in March 2019. First El Rey is small taqueria which earned title “Best tacos in Helsinki” few years ago. New spot is in the same place where one of the first genuine Mexican restaurants Patrona located. With new owners Patrona was later ruined and it closed it doors 2018. So, what would be the better location to continue real Mexican tradition than the corner by Annankatu.

Menu at El Rey Annankatu is more varied and ambitious than in small taqueria, but same tacos are of course available. Also wine selection is more comprehensive and what makes wine menu remarkable is that there is one excellent wine from Baja California, Mexico!

Started the dinner with aperitifs, glass of La Chouette Champagne and Paloma, fresh and tasty Mexican drink made from tequila and grapefruit soda.

 

For starters ordered Guacamole Made daily with fresh avocados, tomato, onion, coriander, chile & lime. Served with traditional totopos, Sopesitos 3 small hand made corn sopesitos, topped with smashed beans & chorizo, crème fraiche, lettuce & queso fresco and Yaca Pibil Panuchos From Yucatán 3 small corn panuchos, topped with smashed beans, jack fruit pibil, pickled habanero & onios

Guacamole and totopos are always perfect combination. And as also “nachos” are home made, which make them lighter and less salty, it is easy to empty the bucket.

Sopesitos were excellent and one can “adjust” the taste by adding spicy sauces which were brought to the table.

In that sense Panuchos were great as they were served with jackfruit. That gave unique taste for the starter as we have not seen this tropical fruit used before.

We also got chance to try Ceviche de Coco Baby coconut, cooked in lime & yellow habanero juice, mixed with seaweed, avocado, onion, coriander & zuccini. Tart and strong flavor made this starter interesting, could even find savor of fish although this dish is vegan. For our taste it was a little bit too sour.

 

Main courses were one of the Chef’s specialities, Pulpo Grilled octopus with garlic, roasted potatoes with habanero & casbel chili oil and baby gem topped with pickle Xnipec and avocado mousse and Tacos Dorados de Camote 3 crispy tacos filled with sweet potato topped with hot chipotle salsa, fresh lettuce, avocado, coriander, onion & vegan creme fraiche and cheese.

Pulpo was crispy and soft at the same time, which it should be, if prepared in the right way. Portion does not necessarily need potatoes but for Finns they are many times very important side dish.

Tacos with sweet potato were delicious. When eating the third one, sweetness started to dominate but with spicy sauces taste could be balanced.

 

Had to order Mexican wine from Valle de Guadalupe although it was the most expensive on the wine list. L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo 2013 color is intensively dark red, it is full-bodied and taste is rich. Only the price might slow down the sales, otherwise it could be the best-seller in the restaurant.

 

Taqueria El Rey Annankatu is propably the flagship of Mexican cuisine in Helsinki. Brilliantly designed menu and well prepared food guarantee the success. Table reservation is good to make beforehand especially for weekend evenings.

Service is professional and polite but suitably easy-going as the idea is not to be too rigid. If that would be the case remember to try tequila from wide selection.

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

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Restaurant review: Cevicheria

31 03 2019

Cevicheria is small Peruvian restaurant and Pisco bar in newly opened dining area in so called Autotalo. Office building does not invite customers to step in to that area, but when you are there you can see sushi restaurant, Nepalese restaurant and couple of other different style dining spots.

Cevicheria claims to be first cevicheria in Finland. Maybe, but Pastor has served Peruvian fusion food including ceviches for many years. Menu consist of starters, ceviches & tiraditos, main courses and 2 desserts. Side dish selection is versatile. Vegan versions are also available.

Ordered for starters Ensalada Quinoa Salad of quinoa with avocado and Ceviche Carretillero Pike-pirch, octopus, greenshell mussel, lime juice, Aji amarillo, choclo corn and sweet potato.

Both dishes were tasty when we got them to table after quite long waiting time.

Quinoa was cooked differently as usual which made it quite special.

Ceviche is actually enough big to be main course. Fish was nicely “cooked” in citrus sauce and shellfishes were fresh although we are in Finland. Dish does not need sweet potato as a starter, but as main course it is justified.

 

For main courses had Carapulcra Sunroot, artichoke heart, chickpea, smoked chilipepper and vanilla and Aji de Gallina Chicken in creamy cocos chili sauce served with rice.

Sauce complemented nicely chickpeas which were enough moist. Typically they are quite dry.

Pulled chicken was delicious in it’s topping. Menu says that side dish is rice but it was served with potatoes. In this case fried sweet potatoes were not needed. But must say they were the best ever eaten in Finland.

 

For wine had Portuguese COROA D’OURO 2016. Pleasant bouquet and smooth, full-bodied and aromatic taste. Produced from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grapes.

 

Ceviche is welcomed new cuisine in Helsinki restaurant scene. Just recently opened dining spot practices serving but most important thing are tasty and fresh dishes.

Location might be slight challenge because restaurant is in the office building without windows opening to the streets. But that should not be problem if food served keeps the level it had during our visit.

 

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

https://www.cevicheria.fi/





Restaurant review: Vinkkeli

17 03 2019

Restaurant Vinkkeli is located in the heart of the Kaartinkaupunki neighborhood, at the intersection of Korkeavuorenkatu and Pieni Roobertinkinkatu. Vinkkeli can be described as a food and wine restaurant, presenting a friendly, honest, and uncomplicated take on classic cuisine, where the wine and drink selection is given the same devotion as the selection of ingredients in the kitchen. 2019 Vinkkeli was selected as 7th in the “50 Best Restaurants” in Finland list. Excellent achievement as we have 6 Michelin star restaurants.

From Monday to Saturday Vinkkeli offers a four course dinner menu which is designed by their chef’s in the kitchen and wine pairings selected by the sommelier. A la carte list consist of three starters and main courses, but we chose the dinner menu as vegan version was also available. One just have to order it beforehand when making reservation.

To add more hunger enjoyed as aperitifs A. Viot & Fils Champagne Millesime 2008. Fresh and cheery sparkling from small producer with lot’s of bubbles.

 

First courses served were delicious masterpieces.

Carrots and sweet potato were main ingredients in vegan dish. Smoked salmon with accompaniments was tasty, leaving the feeling that one wanted to eat more.

 

Next came the soups, onion and pumpkin.

Both were served so that soups were poured on the plates at the table. Some side dishes were already placed on the plate before pouring.

 

After short brake main courses were served.

In vegan dish broccoli and eggplant paste had main role. Veal was fleshy and cabbage, sauce and paste were delicious.

 

For dessert Vinkkeli served home-made ice-creams.

Oat milk ice-cream with blueberries and blueberry ice-cream with crispy cake melted in the mouths. Perfect finish for excellent dinner.

 

Sommelier suggested for wine Portuguese winery Pinalta. This wine was not on the wine list where there are mostly wines from France. Also Spain and Italy are quite well presented.

Pinalta 2010 is produced from the same grapes as port wines are. Smooth aroma and full-bodied taste made the food-wine combination perfect.

 

Dining room furniture and decoration is classic and elegant.  Restaurant itself is in old building which supplements dignified experience.

 

No doubt Vinkkeli earns accolade it has been given. All pieces are in order for earning Michelin star. Food is excellent and portions are impressive. Service is professional and insconspicuous. Dining area supports well classic dining experience which definitely is not too rigid.

 

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

http://www.ravintolavinkkeli.fi/en/

 

 





Restaurant review: Yes Yes Yes – re-visit

23 09 2018

Yes Yes Yes is bar & restaurant where food just happens to be vegetarian or vegan. Spot was opened in November 2017 by the same chef’s who run popular restaurants The Cock and Holiday. One can not find meat or even fish on the menu but dairy products are used in some dishes, which makes the restaurant vegetarian.

Visited 2nd time restaurant in September, ten months after opening. Menu was now renewed. First visit in January only two months after opening was successful. You can find previous review by using search.

Most of the tables are by big open windows. Two bars are mostly meant for diners. In order to eat there it does not require table reservation, which is otherwise necessarily to make.

Menu includes so called Munchies, small snacks, Dips and Tandoori breads, Roots & Greens, Comfort Plates, Extras and Sweetie Pies. Pricing is simple; 10€, 12€ or 14€ per dish. Food is shareable which is todays way to serve and enjoy the dinner.

Recommendation for two: Order 4-5 dishes and share at least 2 of them. Sizes of dishes are like racion, not tapas.

First we got vegan flatbread and dip which included avocado, pistachio and thai basil. Parmesan was left out in vegan version but is was not actually needed. Combination was delicious. Ordered later on “normal” flatbread to accompany so called main course and it was really tasty.

Next we were served Charred kale, pickled grapes, burnt corn and toasted sesame. Crispy kale was perfect and paired perfectly with other ingredients.

As “main courses” we had Black bean noodles, tofu, gems, peanut and sweet chili and Risotto, cherry, lemon, tellicherry pepper, parmesan and flowers.
Noodle dish was tasty, slightly salty but it did not bother. Risotto was the one which raised eye brows. Color and aroma were interesting which luckily did not had an influence in taste.


Last time had for wine Spanish Alma de Casa (Soul of the House), but that was finished. Instead ordered Italian Gianni Tessari’s Pian Alto Colli Berici DOC. Very intensive wine from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Merlot.

Yes Yes Yes is propably the most popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Helsinki at the moment. Restaurant was packed full most of the time. Even the bar chairs were occupaid by diners.

Food is excellent, requires extra innovation to prepare dishes with not so known ingredients.

Last time all dishes came almost at the same time and table was full of plates but this was improved. Dishes came to table one by one and we really had time to enjoy our dishes.

Most of the customers are women, especially groups. As no meat either fish dishes are available that might have something to do with it.

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

https://www.yesyesyes.fi/








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