New Restaurants in Helsinki
In or out of season, makes no difference, restaurants in Helsinki are popping up like mushrooms in the forest. Competition’s wild and all it’s doing is raising the bar. I’ve been on a recce of the newbies in town.
… is what every vegetarian and vegan in town is saying to this new spot that has opened up that MacDonald’s used to occupy. Its owners Richard, Alex and Ville are dab hands at making it work keeping a close eye on what’s what in the world of cutting edge dosh. Matcha, the shot of the moment at New York Fashion Week 2018, features in the sweets while black tahini with roast yams and peanut and fennel aioli are thrown together in a warming, winter combo. If the tables are taken, sit at the bar and get into the whirl of this delightful place.
Iso Roobertinkatu 1, www.yesyesyes.fi
Wino has taken its title seriously and puts out some deadly food and wine in a slick, pro manner. What used to be a real sleazy dive has been transformed into an elegant bistro which pulls the young locals even on a snowy, stay-at-home evening. Wines are listed on a blackboard, that’s because they change, the menu is a little more constant. Reindeer tongue with fingerling potatoes (a cultivar, I was also wondering) which turn out to be mashed with crispy slivers, is complete with the natural Syrah from the Rhône valley. Baltic herring, borsch with whole baby beetroot, and even a Scotch egg all find their way onto the menu of small portions to be shared or gobbled up by yourself.
Fleminginkatu 11, www.wino.fi/en/
New gal in town and she’s straight from the American South with her crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, brisket and grits, jus’ wouldn’t be the same without grits. Housed in a stylish former colonial merchant’s home, plush is green velvet, just like Scarlet’s curtain-dress from Gone with the Wind. Special menus change with the seasons, and service, well ma’am, simply meticulous.
Eteläranta 16, www.sue-ellen.fi/en/
‘Levain’ makes ‘le pain’ twang with a sour dough chewiness that’s reminiscent of Grandma’s best. This new addition to the BW family owned by celebrity chefs Tomi Björck and Matti Wikberg. These guys know how to make you happy and they’ve passed on all their expertise to the people working for them. The bakery cum restaurant has so much eye-candy in the vitrines you can drool for hours. Lunch is a carefully crafted bowl of tastes, textures and surprises and with that delicious bread to mop up whatever’s left, it’s no wonder you have little space left for that cake that’s got your name on it. But squeeze it in, you will, believe me.
Kankurinkatu 6, www.levain.fi
Get your mouth around that gyros and let the simple ingredients do the rest. Flavours of herbs explode around the meaty lamb held together with a pita that’s straight from the mother country. It’s street food at its best in this casual joint in Kallio where wine is served in enamel cups. Hmm…. not so sure about the latter but the content does its job, a good fit with the food. Choose lamb, pork, chicken or Portobello mushroom stuffing, in bowl or bread and know that you don’t have to be Greek to make it authentic. The owner and chef, Tommi Ripatti, can testify to that.