Fine dining on tour in Finland

Asko offers his suggestions for fine dining restaurants to try around Finland.

If you are as much a food lover than I am, here are some of my suggestions for fine dining restaurants to try around Finland.

In the Nordic countries, using quality local produce is an important philosophy and you find each region will have their own traditional specialties and ingredients.

On my last trip to Finland, I was lucky to visit three regions around Finland, Helsinki, the foodie’s capital, Lapland and North-Karelia.

Restaurant Nokka, Helsinki

This restaurant is located in the Katajanokka neighborhood by the waterfront. During the summer months, you can enjoy your lunch or dinner in the outdoor area just at the water’s edge (pictured above).

On my visit, our party all had the Helsinki menu. This menu showcases only Finnish ingredients and the menu changes every season. You have an option of 4 or 6 courses with matching wines. The Helsinki menu is a new idea promoting the region as part of the "Taste of Finland" concept  - restaurants that makes good use of pure, Finnish raw materials. Local thinking and season's ingredients are the main themes in the menus.

In summer, fresh fish would be main ingredient with the menu, but as I visited during the winter months, the menu was a bit heavier. We had beautifully cooked reindeer, which just melted in my mouth. The cheese platter was the highlight, with a selection of Finnish cheeses. The service was superb, and the atmosphere with real candles in this old redbrick storehouse was amazing.

You can also find a small shop at the entrance. If you in Helsinki in the summertime, why not get some beautiful Finnish cheeses and other produce and walk down to the park for a picnic lunch.

This restaurant is a special occasion restaurant. Please ask us to make a reservation before you travel to Helsinki as it is popular.

Finland Restaurant Guide - Nokka Finland Restaurant GuideNokka Restaurant

Restaurant Petronella, Saariselkä

Next stop on my trip was Lapland, and our Christmas tour, Santa, Elves and Glass Igloos escorted tour. This tour is based near the Ivalo airport and there is also a small ski resort town called Saariselkä only about 15 minutes drive from the Arctic resort.

After the Christmas tour, I stayed in Saarisekä over the New Year in a private log cabin with friends and family. As with all ex-pats, my visit home had to satisfy my year long craving for my favourite Finnish food and luckily, one of my favorite restaurants in Finland is located here, the Restaurant Petronella.

Restaurant Petronella serves classic French style cooking, but with Lappish ingredients and local specialties.

Our menu included Blinis with whitefish roe as an entrée, roasted breast of a snow grouse and reindeer pepper steak as main and chocolate in four ways for dessert.

You might find reindeer on many menus in Finland, especially in Lapland where they come from. But there are always other options on the menus as well, such local fish, king crabs or more traditional beefsteaks. Of course if you wish to have vegetarian option, this will be always available as well.

The same owners also have a restaurant called Pirkon Pirtti just next door. This restaurant is more casual, and from the menu you can find Lappish traditional dishes, soups, pizzas and even a reindeer burgers.

If you are going on our Christmas tour Santa, Eves and Glass Igloos or our Northern Lights and Winter Magic tour, it’s a good idea to stop for a day or two in Saariselkä for skiing and to try these restaurants. Please ask more details when booking your trip to see the Northern lights.

Petronella

Restaurant Kielo, Joensuu

This restaurant is located in my hometown in Finland and this was my first visit here with my family. The food is all local and mostly organic produce from the North Karelia region. This region’s food culture is a bit different from the coastal areas or Lapland. Fresh water fish has an important role within everyday food as Joensuu is located around the lakes. But anything from the forest is also very important, berries, mushrooms and game meat.

For an entrée I had a small tasting plate, with five different starters to taste and then for the main course, I had slow cooked elk fillet and my family had grilled pikeperch. And for dessert, I loved the beautiful parfait. Again, the menu changes here by the seasons as well, about six times a year.

If you are planning your summer self drive trip to Finland’s Lake District, Joensuu is located at the eastern Finland, not also far from Russian border.

Finland Restaurant GuideFinland Restaurant Guide

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