Saturday, 12 October 2013

Dining and w(h)ining in Helsinki: Bar Teos

Bar Teos, located on Runeberg street in Helsinki is a tiny little piece of Spain in the middle of  my neighbourhood of Töölö and a place where I've often medicated my longing back to Andalusian sun. It's been the venue of my birthday celebrations along with lengthy and leisurely lunches with The Gentleman. At some point I was even toying with the idea of having our wedding reception here - gathering our closest friends around one of their long tables to enjoy a tapas marathon full of sunshine and laughter. The place is popular so reservation is highly recommended.

Though Helsinki has seen its fair share of tapas restaurants come and go, this has remained a firm favourite of mine (and many others) - both because of the wide selection and affordable prices (all the tapas à € 2.85). Even all the wines (excluding Champagne) cost less than €40 a bottle. The customer service (even some of the staff are Spanish!) warrants a special mention.

Another special mention should be reserved to the peculiar frescos...

I could probably recite the menu in my sleep (in case my dreams were not reserved for something a lot more fun, featuring a man in Andalusia...). So I've come to find my own favourites. Though this time the quality didn't quite live up to the previous visits.

Marinated mushrooms were a hit even with my companion who usually abhors the members of the fungus family.

Carpaccio was sadly very bland. Though when I make my own, I like it with a sprinkling of truffle oil which some find a tad overpowering.

Boquerones, made of European cisco were excellent. The comic nature of this did not go unnoticed though - bringing someone from Kuusamo, raised on this very fish to sample the delights of exotic foreign cuisine: European cisco.

Cray fish terrine was good as always. This I should make at home, too.

Serrano ham with melon was ok. But I can tell my palate has been spoiled rotten with Spanish ibericos, paletas and bellotas - any old ham simply won't do anymore!

From the menu of warm tapas we had fried boquerones. Good choice. Same cannot , unfortunately, be said of artichoke-mushroom-chorizo- combo. Artichoke was minuscule, chorizo was burnt and potato (which the portion did not use to have) was also burnt dry. The dry herb mixture that covered the dish could not save the dish which normally is one of my favourites.

Another one of my favourites, green pepper paté was also sadly overcooked - the dry consistency resembled that of crisp bread.

The country style sausage was nondescript bratwurst. Which is sad, because Hakaniemi market hall and Harju's sausage factory stock such delightfully meaty and spicy chorizos there's no need to settle for something as generic than this.

Luckily chipirones did not fail this time either. Even my companion whose diet has managed to survive for over half a century without octopus of any kind was pleasantly surprised.

Peñascal rosado, which I and The Gentleman have been known to consume barrel loads several bottles at one of our regular haunts back in Spain was out, so we settled for the house red. It was Tempranillo so typical for our part of Spain. The dry, harsh tannins are not my favourites, but at €13 a bottle I can't complain. The staff, the price range and the down to earth- approach to food all remind me of everything I love about the traditional tapas bars we love sourcing in Spain. But there's no place like Andalusia...




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