Don’t Ask Why
Filip Langhoff’s and Linda Stenman-Langhoff’s 26-seating, Michelin-awarded restaurant Ask believes in organic produce, wild herbs and local food. And, we believe in Ask. “Organic produce is a self-evident choice. I offer organic food to our kids, why wouldn’t I offer it to my customers?” Filip says in an interview.
Out on the floor Filip believes in his wife Linda. And so do we. Linda has charmed Helsinkians with her tales of wines and by creating a spontaneous and relaxed atmosphere, which is why the punters are in no hurry to leave. A dinner can easily take four hours.
“If the guests feel at home we have succeeded”, Filip Langhoff has said. We say that he has succeeded with perfection.
← Parsley root and egg
Demonstrations of Cool Fine Dining
It is a good question to ask what Demo is a demo of, too perfect the restaurant seems. Let us consider: when Demo opened in the 90s it was a demo of a more-relaxed form of fine dining. Today, the service still holds on to a certain coarseness and openess of the Helsinki streets. The Michelin star has not taken that away.
Demo may also be a demo of the ever-developing restaurant culture of Helsinki. Both the popular BasBas and Ox, for example, trace their roots to Demo. Therefore, it is best to start your exploration into the finest restaurants in Helsinki from here.
← Fermented cloudberry foam with caramelized butter ice cream
That Scandinavian Feeling
Olo represents the finest in the technically skilled and cut to perfection Scandinavian fine dining and the atmosphere is in form – gracefully formal. After the two-star Chez Dominique closed Olo has taken its place as the leading star in Helsinki with ease.
Creative Kitchen is a late-night novelty in Olo: the long menu is probably the most advanced form of home cooking in the world. The chefs are at hand and the atmosphere is intimate.
It is difficult to translate olo into English. It is a profoundly Finnish expression mixing feeling with being. And that’s exactly what Olo does. In the highest order.
← A mosaic of sugar-salted pike-perch from Oulujärvi
If Savoy opened an inn the result would be Vinkkeli – and, in a way, that’s exactly what has happened. Vinkkeli is the first restaurant by the long-term Savoy sommelier Antti Uusitalo. His business affiliates, the chefs are all from Savoy, as well as many of the floor staff. Many customers also look familiar.
Why wouldn’t they? Vinkkeli embodies the most classical quality down to the finest detail. “A boring menu!” cried the skilled amateur chef and a foodie friend of mine. “When you make the same Crème Ninon, we can continue the discussion”, I remarked.
Classics made to perfection, a beautiful classic service attitude and the space itself created the long waiting list as soon as the restaurant opened last May. Still, it’s worth calling in for a cancellation by phone.
← Lamb from Åland with summer vegetables and dark garlic sauce
Sasu & Sommelier
Many in Helsinki know the Michelin-awarded chef Sasu Laukkonen by appearance. The large kitchen window of the tiny Chef & Sommelier opens tight out to the street. Some parties have been served their first glasses of wine out on the street by the sommelier Johan Borgar.
Therefore it is small wonder that Chef & Sommelier has been able to fade away the barrier between the restaurant floor and the kitchen. The chefs serve tables as do the floor staff, and everyone knows the menu by heart. There’s no way of leaving the restaurant without getting to meet Sasu.
← Carrots, cheese and sunflower seeds
Finnjävel is as elemental as the strongest of Finnish swear words: perkele, the devil. Finnish Devil, finnjävel, is an ancient Swedish monicker for a Finn. Now, it is borne with pride. The food itsef is elemental to the bone. Finnjävel is influenced by the most Finnish and most humble of food traditions and turns it into gourmet. The restaurant has gathered wide admiration since the initial confusion died down.
The website hosts a clock, Finnjävel is here for exactly two years. The restaurant was opened in spring so there is still plenty of time to visit. And there is even a reality TV show about the place.
← The Ice Master’s Salmon