Bryan, my husband, often travels for work. Occasionally, armed with his trusty little Sony camera (affiliate link!), he will take photos and send me his thoughts on some of the more note-worthy restaurants he has visited. Other posts I've written for places he has visited (but I have not!) are Sushi Yoshitake (3-Michelin stars) in Tokyo and Luce in San Francisco. This post is also part of the #31PostsInMay challenge where I aim to publish a new post every single week day.
One of the world's most famous restaurants, Noma in Copenhagen, skyrocketed Nordic cuisine to the forefront of food enthusiasts' "must-try" lists when it repeatedly won the top spot in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef René Redzepi's intense focus on sustainability and obsession with only using local, foraged ingredients (despite the cold winters in Denmark), showed the world that exquisite and world-class cuisine was not only possible, but better, this way.
He's not the only one.
Olo, a modern Nordic cuisine restaurant located in Helsinki, Finland, aims to take the raw ingredients of the region and provide diners with a menu that brings to the table "what is best at a given time." Their philosophy is simple.
"The natural and clean flavours of land and sea reign in Olo's kitchen."
Olo has boasted a Michelin Star since 2011, and has also won a number of regional awards.
Olo opened in 2006 and in 2013, moved to a new location inside the historic Lampa House (built in 1817!) on the waterfront.
On top of a number of private dining rooms, there is also spacious inner courtyard. You almost feel as if you are sitting outside, even though you are protected with a greenhouse-like glass roof over your heads. The inner courtyard is bright and spacious yet warm and inviting at the same time.
Bryan had a unique opportunity to visit Finland and Sweden for a couple days this past spring for a business trip. Without much time to do research on restaurants, he used the Michelin Guide to pick this place, which was also conveniently located right in the heart of Helsinki (not too far from his hotel).
With the U.S. dollar being so strong recently and the Euro being weak, this meal felt like a bargain. There are several different tasting menus: a four courses for 59 €; a five courses for 69 €; and a six courses for 79 €. Finally, you can dine family style and try a bunch of seasonal dishes by ordering the "Food Market", which is 41 € per person.
On Fridays and Saturdays only, there is also a special four course "Weekend Path" tasting, which cost 49 € (tax and tip are included!) offered inside the inner courtyard (described above), called Lampa Hall. This is the tasting menu that Bryan decided to order while dining solo on on his only free evening in Helsinki.
The meal began with Olo's bread, in this case a special seed and multi-grain flatbread cracker served in a wooden box filled with grains.
The Kitchen's Greeting changes daily, and that day was a sugar salted salmon served with sea beans and a creamy white sauce.
King Crab with Fennel celebrated spring with its emphasis on fennel.
Bread with Roasted Garlic Soup came with a creamy garlic soup in which you dipped your freshly baked crusty bread.
The next course, Swede and Organic Egg, consisted of slices of Swedish rutabaga, also called "swede", sliced paper-thin to cover an organic egg. A clear broth poured table-side completed the light dish.
The final main dish was the Baby Lamb with Malmgård Rye. Malmgård Rye a special organic rye grown at a Finnish family-owned estate that has stayed within the same family for twelve generations (all the way back to 1614!).
Sea Buckthorn, a Scandinavian berry that is often used in herbal medicine to treat a variety of disorders, was served as a palate cleanser. This particular fruit came from Merimasku in western Finland and was served with on top of sour cream and licorice.
Bryan decided to enjoy the optional Additional Cheese Platter (15,20 €) with a luxurious 1974 port called Porto Quevedo Colheita from Portugal.
A final "Small Treat" ended the lovely meal.
Bryan really enjoyed this meal.
Though he had been warned by some colleagues that food in Finland wasn't that good, he was really impressed with his dinner at Olo. It turned out to be his favorite meal of his entire trip to Scandinavia (which included short stops in both Finland and Sweden). He continued to rave to me about how good of a deal the meal was. Even at the current exchange rate, 49 € is only $55 USD (tax and gratuities included!) for this 1-Michelin starred 4-course tasting (which, when you include the "Kitchen's Greeting" and the two sweets, it's actually more like a 7-course tasting).*
It's really time to look for those plane tickets to Europe.
+358(0) 10 3206250
Tue - Fri 11:30 - 15:00 and 18:00-24:00
Saturday 18:00 - 24:00
Closed Sundays and Mondays
*Do keep in mind Bryan's meal cost more because he ordered the extra cheese course, the port, and wine with the meal as well.