Lehtovaara

Helsinki, Finland

Oops, no #emptyplate picture this time.

But not because I would not have enjoyed it, just forgot to take a picture before it was too late.

Anyway, I mentioned in earlier post Lehtovaara being one of the classics for me in Helsinki. And for many others too, I bet. Restaurant has been there since 1940, but history of the restaurant is much older. It was originally located in Vyborg (which is currently russian territory).

And the classic place has one classic dish: Cœur de filet Provençale 1952. 

I guess the dish was launched for the Olympic Games held in Helsinki in 1952 and therefore it has this year as a postfix. I’ve had this probably ten times and always I have been satisfied. The dish in all simplicity consist of beef tenderloin (the center part, that is where the name comes from) topped with garlic butter, fried garlic potatoes and fried mushrooms.

This time we visited Lehtovaara on Sunday and then they have “Sunday lunch”, where starters and dessert are served as buffet and main dish is server to the table. For main dish you had three different choices, jerusalem artichoke soup, fried acrtic char or some meat dish, which I can’t remember as I had my eyes on the classic. Every sunday you can have also the filet with the lunch menu with extra 10 euros (menu is otherwise 39 euros, children under 12 half price).

Starters were pretty much as you can be expect them to be from a buffer: some herring, gravlax, smoked salmon, potatoes, pâté, roast beef etc. From the dessert table I was happy to find Crème brûlée and lime cake was also good.

And the cœur de filet did not disappoint me this time either. Only mistake was going for the second round, I was way too full after eating it. That is the way they serve it, they bring the meat and the potatoes on a big tray (of course depending how many are having it) and then put some on your plate, while leaving the rest on a hot plate for later addition, if you wish.

 

Baskeri & Basso Bistro (BasBas)

Helsinki, Finland

http://basbas.fi/bistro/

Second visit to this highly popular restaurant. The first one was before I started the blog, so no review from that. But some of the dishes back then were one of the best I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant (especially the tongue!), so expectations were set really high for this time.

Once you find the entrance from the backyard and leave your jackets hanging on the left side, to your right opens one big dining area, usually with most of the tables full. They also rent a private room for groups, which is naturally separate space from the the main room. In one corner of the dining area is open kitchen, so you can get a peek how your dishes are being prepared.

The menus are written on chalk board and one of those is also brought to your table when you are ready to order. Dishes are divided in three categories, starters, pasta/risotto and mains. They sell 2+1+1 menus, (45€) but of course you can select whatever you want from the menu. So menu does not include dessert, but those can be of coursed ordered separately. Starters come to table at same time, so easy to share, if you want to sample more. I would recommend that, as the starters are that big that they can be shared to get a taste. Not enormous, but still you get at least few bites even from half of a dish. And in both occasions the starters have been the highlight of the whole menu.

They don’t have wine menu as such, but of course give recommendations for your selected dishes. BasBas also is following the trend of natural wines. Prices for the wines vary a bit, but go around 10€/glass (16cl, if I’m not mistaken). We would have been easy target to sell a bit more wine, but they did not insist filling your glass, so basically ordered one glass first for starters, then one for pasta, one for main and one for dessert.

For starters to share we got this time, White fish carpaccio (Siika from lake Inari), scallops (fresh from Norway) with Ponzu sauce, roasted butternut squash with leaf parsley-pesto and feta and beef tartar. I listed the starters in the ranked order, the White fish and scallops were amazing. Butternut squash also great and nothing wrong (well, somehow unevenly salted) with tartar either, but I’ve had better.

After starters there were sage risotto (quite heavy on sage, but not in a bad way) and tagliolini with funnel chanterelle. Pasta was tasty and perfectly cooked, I would say one of best pastas I’ve had.

Main dishes did not impress me that much this time either. I had flank steak, quite basic. And tasted a bit from my wife’s pulpo (=Octopus, which she did not really care for), pretty ok as well, but nothing extraordinary.

For dessert I had pavlova with rasberry sorbet. Quite good, but I’ve had recently better home made pavlova. Also the ratio between the pavlova and sorbet was a bit off: little bit more pavlova and little bit less sorbet would have been better in my opinion.

The place is really nice, staff very professional and friendly. This time we were served by one the owners (Nicolas Thieulon) who really shows his passion for food and wine, which is always positive thing. So that added to excellent food, BasBas is a place where I could visit again and again. Only problem with that is that it might not be that easy to get a table in short notice. They take bookings via Web, so be ready 30 days before you want to visit BasBas to book yours. Reservation opens for next day always at midnight. Maybe there are cancellations and you can get a table by calling, but I have not tried that one.

 

Elite

Helsinki, Finland

New restaurants come and some of the old ones go. But the classics stay. One of these classics is definitely Elite (another quite frequently visited for me is Lehtovaara). You pretty much know what you are going to get, so no disappointments, no surprises.

That was the case also this time. I chose “Korttelimenu”, which consisted of salmon pâté for start, for main elk meatballs with root vegetable purée and Jallu-sauce. Dessert was some pears marinated in glögi and blue cheese. Pâté was quite basic, for meat balls I would have wished a bit more gamey taste and dessert was maybe the most interesting part of the whole menu.

They also have wine recommendations for the menu, but I was driving this time, so cannot say anything about that.

Elite attracts a wide mix of people, families with children, businessmen-alike, couples, etc. All this combined with nice looking venue and good basic food makes Elite always enjoyable experience. Although this time the older male waiter was not that great, the guy serving the table next to us seemed much more friendly and chattier.