Olo is arguably one of the top restaurants in the Finnish Capital and it’s always been on my list of places to go to for a special occasion. So in all my years in Helsinki, I had never been. Olo hosted a dinner for bloggers the other week and I couldn’t contain my excitement when I got an invitation to that. This evening promised to be exciting and full of amazing flavours – and it did not disappoint.
Olo Garden & Bar is the more casual little brother of Olo Restaurant and is located in the backyard of the same building. With the glass roof and greenery all around, dipped in soft lighting, this setting is definitely a little bit more relaxed and better for big groups than the original restaurant. The food is modern Scandinavian but with subtle influences from Asia (mainly Japan I believe) and all full of deep and dynamic flavours. Olos menu caters to everyone, even though it’s recommended for the vegans amongst you to give them notice before your visit to ensure they can prepare the most amazing meal for you possible.
We started off with some Hibiscus-Lemon tea with lemon verbena oil, with some dried leaves to crumble to add even more of that citrusy flavour and to get your taste buds started for what’s next, along with some potato bread with egg-butter and reindeer-blood-creme (wow) which was pretty heavy but so tasty. For a proper appetizer, there was some crispy lettuce with tomato and strawberry, dark balsamico creme, goat’s cheese from Saloniemi and some crushed roasted almond on top. A perfectly light combination of fresh flavours and I immediately felt catapulted back into a bright summer night. The Sylvaner white wine that was served with it was the perfect companion for this dish.
Oh, the main course! Definitely, the ultimate highlight of this evening was the char-grilled whitefish (siikaa) with the best cauliflower I’ve had in a long, long time. The butter-flavoured white wine sauce with fennel oil was just absolutely heavenly, especially with the fish, but it’s really that cauliflower that deserved the extra-shout out here! Beautifully roasted and with a consistency that is just pure culinary art. Yes, I’m still talking about the cauliflower! Isn’t it remarkable that a seemingly simple vegetable can be turned into a dish that’s just really something else. Our vegan friend was served with a delicious buckwheat porridge with some pickled chanterelles – kindly we got a little taste of this one too – and it was absolutely fantastic as well. Glad to see that vegan options are not an obstacle here! Even though the fish would normally call for a white wine to go with it, the sommelier poured us an amazing German Spätburgunder which was wonderfully smooth and aromatic, without overpowering the otherwise light meal.
For the dessert, we moved up into Olo’s Creative Kitchen. This open kitchen space invites smaller parties to engage in a more social dinner setting, where you get the chance to cook with the chefs, or just observe. Bartender Paula mixed up an excellent espresso martini, while head chef Kim Mustonen got our desserts ready. This milk chocolate ganache with almonds and salt caramel, raspberry jelly, chocolate crackers and lemongrass-flavoured crème anglaise was just the perfect finale to an evening of spectacular food and good conversations.
The evening ended with a beetrooty gin (I don’t remember what exactly it was, but it was delicious) and to top it all off I poured some red wine down my white blouse (I’m such an amateur), but it was worth it. Thanks to Maria this little mishap was quickly taken care of.
Thank you, everyone, at Olo for the wonderful invitation! Especially to Maria Stenberg, Timea Slavic, Katja Henttunen, Anssi Riihimäki and of course everyone in the kitchen! Can’t wait to return!