March 7, 2012 by yc
The Best Kept Secret in the Heart of Helsinki
BY YC FELIN
Pavements free of snow and ice. Automatic doors and empty elevators. Soothing music, gentle brightness and the welcome of nine restaurants. For mothers with prams battling icy blizzards for the sake of a decent meal, the renovated shopping mall Kluuvi is as close to heaven as it gets.
In Kluuvi, Daniela and I decide to visit the new restaurant called Senaatin Hiili. We’re guessing that the first part of the name “Senaatti” comes from the nearby popular tourist attraction called Senate Square. And “hiili” (which means coal in Finnish) because they like to charcoal grill their meat there. As the lunch menu presents the option of rosemary roasted lamb racks (17 EUR), we decide to put their grilling skills to the test. It is the last lunch hour and we are among the few customers in the dimly lit bistro bar. With its main decorative elements being metallic grey walls and black chairs, the bistro can be described as a “hip and edgy modern canteen.”
Rosemary lamb racks with mint bulgur and lemon tea raisin sauce.
It doesn’t take long for our roasted lamb racks to arrive. Unfortunately my baby girl decides to wake up and wailingly protest the new foreign location. I soothe her by walking in circles, while watching Daniela nodding approvingly after her first bites of the bulgur in lemon tea sauce. My stomach grumbling, I inspect the portion: on top of the colorful heap of bulgur, herbs, bell pepper, and yellow raisins, the lamb racks seem to be perfectly cooked – crispy outside, pink inside.
It is the most tender meat of lamb racks we have tasted in ages. The usual strong gamey smell of lamb is absent, and a faint taste of mint leaves room to appreciate the grainy texture of the Middle Eastern bulgur. The portion of five lamb racks is perfect to satisfy our appetite.
The lunch is a surprising feast. Senaatin Hiili receives the highest honor one can get from Daniela, a hobby chef, because she leaves the place planning to reconstruct the dish at home. As for me, I cannot wait to uncover more hidden gems of the restaurant scene in Kluuvi in the future.
Five lamb racks instead of the usual four.
In the absence of more customers, the silence is almost eerie.
We are sad to hear the the Senaatin Hiili has closed its door.
Daniela picked up camomile tea for Herman from the tea shop Chaya in Kluuvi
For dessert, we go indulge ourselves in the ultimate hot-chocolate experience. It is Karl Fazer’s hot chocolate for 6,90 EUR. It is rich in chocolate taste, and you can add spices and cream to it whichever way you prefer. It is a must-try for hot-chocolate lovers.
This article is the first in a series of restaurant reviews, called Restaurants for Mammas. We’ll be test-driving all restaurants in Helsinki for you. Or most of them. Stay tuned.
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