Answers from Our Experts (1)
The anthem repeats itself, “Seasonal, fresh, local, close as possible and if we must, further afield!” the chefs around town exclaim. Let’s leave out the Michelin stars and focus on some of the other stars of Finnish cuisine.
With a jaw-dropping view over the city, the grand dame of Helsinki restaurants, Savoy Restaurant’s head chef Kari Aininen manages his team like the ice-hockey player he is. “We all have to work together to achieve great results,” he says, and these guys know how to do it, time after time. The menu is small, but then it has to be for such handcrafted delicate works of art that appear on your plate. The expert sommelier is at hand to pair each dish with a perfect wine.
Best in the city in 2012, is a little gem tucked away on the pretty, colourful street called Huvilakatu. It’s Chef et Sommelier where Sasu Laukkonen (head chef) and his right hand man Johan Borgar (sommelier) hold high the banner of organic food and wine. “We like to use the whole thing, throw away as little as possible, leaves, roots, innards, as much as is edible and create something delicious out of it all,” says Sasu. It’s tiny and hence booking in advance is absolutely necessary.
If ever the phrase ‘word of mouth’ worked, then it’s for Kuurna, another small joint in upmarket Kruunuhaka. The sign outside reads ‘Ravintola’ i.e. restaurant so you could miss it if you didn’t know it was there. Their concept is plain and clear: 3 courses, each with a choice of 3 dishes of either veg, fish or meat, all prepared with heart, all to drool over. The wine selection is excellent and includes many New World products. Book in advance, it’s small
Farang’s owners love Asian cuisine with its hot, sour, salty, sweet flavours which chef Serko Rantanen combines with craftsmanship and skill. Tasting menus include soft shell crabs with green mango, mint and caramelized peanuts, veal cheek in chili broth, crispy pork with palm sugar caramel. Flavours are there, not too delicate but expertly blended into a balance of taste sensations.
The menu appears on a blackboard at Copas Y Tapas and changes at the whim of chefs Tarja Silvani and Sami Tallberg in conjunction of course with ever-present owner Jari Lahdenoja. Have a few tapas with your wine, or if you’re hungry go with one of the main courses prepared on the grill. The cheese selection is one of the best in town and the wines are mostly from the high-ranking Torres stable. And talk about service – they make you feel as if you’ve been wrapped in a blanket!