A week ago my cousin and I went to a restaurant called Solna, in Helsinki Finland, for a dinner. It is a nice 'white linen tablecloth' kind of place. For three years the restaurant was recommended by the Michelin guide, but they lost that recommendation this year, because of the pricing, said the waitress.
We both ordered the 'asparagus menu' with the wine package, and wanted to start the evening off with a glass of bubbly, after all, we were celebrating.
The first two courses we were served were beautiful and tasty. The first course was an asparagus soup, the main course Asparagus Hollandaise with crispy parma ham and melon. Very traditional and flavorful.
The dessert, Quark pannacotta with rhubarb was nice, seasonal, but a bit too bitter. They had worked with the presentation, but it was lacking color.
I believe dessert is the most important course of the meal that is often a bit overlooked (and that isn't only because my first love was baking and pastries, and nor course I hold a pastry chef degree). Dessert is the last thing you are eating during the meal. To leave a great, uplifting memory from the meal, it has to stand out, be something extravagant. If the feast hasn't been that great before dessert, it can save you. If the meal has been superb before, like we had in Solna, and then the dessert is a bit 'just there' - it will let the whole experience down. Just a little tip for when you plan a dinner party at home.
The wines we were served with the meal complemented every course in harmonious ways. Sometimes a pre-set wine package can have one wine, that you don't care for, but in Solna that wasn't the case. Great paring of lovely wines.
The server we had, had a great knowledge of the food and wines she delivered. She was personable, and knew her profession well. And she was fast. At the beginning, we had barely started with the aperitif, when the first wine was introduced, and shortly after that the first warm course arrived.
After we finished eating the soup, and were still enjoying the wine served with it, the second wine arrived. The waitress told us we were slow drinkers, to which we laughed and asked if we can get it in writing to our moms. But the truth is, as a customer, you can ask the waitstaff to slower your service. Tell them at the beginning that you want to eat with time, if that is the case. Often with wine package, they don't serve full glasses, but if the restaurant you are eating in does that (you can ask when ordering the package) you can tell to 'slow down' in complimentary way 'we want to enjoy the taste and time', so you don't end up with several different glasses of wine in front of you, or you don't feel pressured to drink faster than you would, to keep the pace of the service. Because the point of the meal is for you to have great, enjoyable, memorable time, not to keep up with the service.
Overall the evening in Solna was delightful, and I warmly recommend the restaurant, if you ever happen to Helsinki, Finland. Just tell the knowledgeable waitstaff to, well, wait, if necessary.
I'm a chef and a pastry chef, and I love food. Preparing a meal for someone is a show of love; for your craft, for the ingredients, and for the ones eating.
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