April 11, 2012 by yc
Don’t Hold Your Breath for Dennis to Satisfy
BY YC FELIN
Breakfast is the most important meal they say. My dream breakfast is a marriage between the English and French cuisines. The English breakfast resembles a round-bellied gentleman, bringing the lust for meat and grease to the table- crispy bacon, creamy scrambled eggs and fried mushrooms. The French counterpart is a coy sweet maiden – rich pain au chocolat, a glazed strawberry tart and a buttery croissant. The reality is that I haven’t had breakfast, again. As I dream about the marriage made in heaven, I rush to the shopping center Kämp Calleria. I am supposed to meet up with the singer-songwriter Selja Sini – whom I’m happy to be related to – for her fitting for the upcoming opening party of Finnish design Katri/n. Luckily the Juice Jungle Bar is right next to the pop-up store and I grab a smoothie while Selja tries out the dresses that are lighter than feather.
Both starving we call Daniela to find out if she is up for a late lunch. Her boys are not in the kindergarten today and she is venturing downtown with them. To me that sounds like a suicide mission, I would be terrified of traffic and animals, anything that could attack an entourage of a mother with more than one child. Selja and I spotted them far away, side by side, the boys – Julian and Noa – never straying away more than a couple of steps from Daniela. Kudos to her!
Daniela suggested the Ristorante Dennis (on Bulevardi), because boys like pizza. A caravan of two mothers, two babies, two boys and one artist move on to the destination. The restaurant is almost empty, and we take over most of the space. Daniela and I have a Carini pizza, the boys have a pizza with ham and pepperoni and Selja has a Rucola pizza. Daniela asks about the price of Coca Cola - wisened up after the experience at the Senaatin Hiili - and gasps at the 4.40-EUR request. In the future we might have to smuggle a 1,5-litre bottle of Coca Cola with us; that drink is just overpriced in restaurants.
Pizza Carini, with artichoke, fresh tomatoes, olives, goat cheese, garlic, mozzarella, rucola olive oil.
The coleslaw is served as complimentary appetizers. Not so appetizing though: the portion tries to kill our taste buds with the excess of pepper. It tastes like having been made in the morning and then forgotten in the room temperature. Pizzas arrive and the sheer size of one pizza is overwhelming, big enough to feed a whole team of tiny cheerleaders. Pizza Carini (13.90 EUR) is barely acceptable. Rucola olive oil is flooding the plate, no freshness in the minuscule tomato bits. A faint memory of goat cheese can be detected. Selja’s Rucola pizza’s dried tomatoes are hard to chew. The ham in the boys’ pizza is clearly those pre-sliced ham bits you can find in a bag at the grocery store. The knives are so dull that everybody struggles with cutting up the gigantic pizzas. The upside of the ordeal is the Restaurant’s Orange Sorbet (5.90 EUR), refreshing with bits of orange peel balancing the sweetness. The waitress knows that it is not made by Dennis, guesses that it is Carte D’Or. Then why call it “restaurant’s sorbet”?
During a round of gossiping after meal, Selja spots the first one. A tiny black dot buzzing on top of our leftovers. Ever an optimist, I imagine it to be a sign of spring, a fruit fly greeting us. Until a bigger dot joins the party. And a plump third one. It can only mean that they have more relatives buzzing around in the other parts of the restaurant. Besides, other things don’t add up at Dennis: the constant not-so-friendly stares from the nearby table of two men. The children’s corner tucked under the staircase downstairs, hidden from the sight of parents. The waitress and young cooks chatting happily in the kitchen while we are up to our necks in dirty dishes.
Ristorante Dennis calls itself a “classic family restaurant where it is fun to eat lunch and dinner – with family or friends”. We need more family restaurants in Finland for sure, but not the likes of Dennis.
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