From the White Guide Nordic 2018:
- Address: Eteläranta 16, 00130 Helsinki
- Phone: +358 300 472 341
- Web: finnjavel.fi
- Seats: 68
- Opening Hours: Mon–Sat from 6 PM
The DNA of Finnish food
Finnjävel is Henri Alén and Tommi Tuominen’s big restaurant dream come true. Both men have some twenty years of experience working in traditional restaurants in the French tradition. Then came the awakening, and the quest to find out what Finnish cuisine is all about. They consulted old cookbooks, delved into their own heritage and fortunately found living traditions that can still be found in different parts of Finland. It was obvious that poverty and necessity had been great sources of inspiration. Finnish cuisine also had influences from Scandinavia to the west, and Russia to the east. These Finnish (dare)devils distilled their ideas and the result has been a highly successful restaurant at a prime location beside Helsinki’s harbour. The nostalgic flavours and the smells of freshwater lakes and saunas are sure to appeal to every Finn, and are mostly familiar to fellow Scandinavians – but they also happen to appeal to the curiosity of foreign visitors. The kitchen is strict about using only traditional ingredients. Close connections with producers and foragers have been crucial. Imported items are only used if they were already being imported some hundred years ago, like herring, coffee and lemon. Today environmental regulations limit the use of some ingredients, like wild salmon, otherwise the sky is the limit. Even the choosiest international visitors have found something familiar in the menu, like meat jelly, and blood sausage. There are two menus – one with six courses and one with ten in which the different dishes are supposed to complete each other. A lot of the more familiar dishes take the form of something unrecognisable. Take the national dish of Karelian pie, presented here as a heap of rice porridge, boiled egg and rye crackers. But most of the treats are more conventional. The amuse-bouches are interesting, like buttermilk from the restaurant’s own dairy, or “From the pit”, an oven-baked onion. Part of the concept involves the design, which was created specifically for the restaurant by Atelje Sotamaa. All of the tableware and furniture are for sale. Not everybody likes the idea of inventing fork and knife again, and some of the ideas aren’t very practical, but it hasn’t gotten in the way of Finnjävel’s popularity. The food is paired with superior wines and other beverages and the enthusiasm of the staff is contagious. However, the team behind Finnjävel has only committed itself to remaining in operation for two years. On their web site the days are busily ticking off until spring of 2018. But who knows, with success like this, they might be tempted to go on with the show...
To read the whole review go to Buy The White Guide Nordic 2018.