01
Jul
10

Helsinki fine dining: Juuri

The second night of the conference, we ended up at Stadin Kebab, but we had meant to go to Juuri, at Korkeavuorenkatu 27. It turned out we were the only people who chose Juuri out a list of four choices, so we were shifted to a place called Seahorse. We tried to convince others that they wanted to join us at Juuri: You’re in Helsinki. How can you pass up a place offering sampler plates of traditional Finnish cuisine? By the time we prevailed, though, it was too late to make a reservation. J-P and I ate at Stadin Kebab, instead.

The next morning, we overslept so badly that J-P missed the last day of the conference, and we both missed the hotel’s glorious Scandinavian breakfast buffet (more on that next post). The fortunate side effect was that we set out on the hotel’s bikes just in time for lunch and decided to try Juuri after all. Easily the best food we had in Finland.

I had a fried reprise of Havis’ fish with false morels in a cream sauce. No spiders, and the sauce was notably more flavorful than Havis’ already very good version. My meal came with small whole potatoes that had been boiled, then either roasted on pan-crisped. We later noticed a street vendor calling them Parisian potatoes, but I’m going to keep on thinking of them as Finnish. I was also very pleased with the mayonnaise-based salad on offer at the salad bar: it seemed to be shoestrings of cooked turnip with peas and a red pepper aioli.

J-P’s lunch was a savory pancake from the Aland islands, topped with a huge amount of very thick, very smoky bacon and some caramelized onions. Our only regret there is that we didn’t note the name of the dish and so haven’t been able to find a recipe online. I found a few that come close, but it’s going to be more trial and error than I’d hoped for.

Besides being delicious, Juuri was also very cute. Its tiny dining areas explained why our late reservation attempts had been a no-go. The back room, with maybe four tables, had sheets of red and black stained glass hanging in the windows (to block the view of the dumpsters), an unusual take on the white-plastic Scandinavian hanging lamp, and a culinary themed version of what a friend calls the Doris Day clock. Picture a plain polished steel face surrounded by spoons, forks, and spatulas to mark the hours. Although it was a little stuffy at the time, the massive exposed ducts and the 24-hook coat rack spoke of chillier times.

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