Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dining and w(h)ining in Helsinki: Limetree

We had a date night a while back. But you know, a very casual one. So casual in fact we didn't even bother leaving our beloved neighbourhood. But so date-y I did leave the camera at home, so there won't be any extensive portrayals of the decor and general ambiance. 

Seeing how I've totally fallen for Instagram I did have my iCandy with me, though I do keep making these crazy promises to myself about not becoming one of those sad addicts feverishly poking their screens throughout their meals. By the time we tasted our starters however, we agreed that the place warranted a proper blog post so sorry folks, you'll just have to make do with iPhotos!

Asian restaurants in Helsinki are a bit on the dull side. None of them has really stood out and the first visits have primarily remained the last. So far my favourites are Twisted Street Kitchen, run by among other people, an Israeli and Farang - the crown jewel in the totally Finnish restaurant empire of Tom Björck.

After walking around half-heartedly we stumbled upon restaurant Limetree, located at the corner of Töölöntori. I had in fact spotted the place a while back in one of those neighbourhood newsletters but their culinary expertize isn't usually anything to write home about. I did remember this place being recommended for "clean, authentic flavours and fresh, contemporary atmosphere". 

And fresh it was - minimialistic even. All the cliches of Asian restaurants had been happily tossed aside and the decor was simple and airy. You know, with a couple of wooden elephants thrown in. For fun. 

The menu is, the way it always seems to be in these places, extensive. But luckily, it was tempting too. And totally MSG-free too

For starter The Boy Next Door, true to his ways, had wonton soup (€7.50/ 14) and I had Tom Kha Gai - a chicken soup made with coconut milk-based broth infused with lemon grass and chilli among other things. I like my tastes (and diamonds...) big and bold, so for me won ton soups always tend to be a bit on the thin side. The Boy Next Door loved it. It made him "see misty mountain views"...

Tom Kha Gai (€7.50/€14) was easily, hands down, unequivocally the best I've had in Finland. Beautifully balances flavours.

I had to take a moment (or three) to decide on the main course. Pork knuckle braised slowly in home-made star anise sauce sounded divine. But so, too, did crisp fried duck in red curry sauce (€19). Based on the waiter's recommendation I had the duck. Crisp fried it wasn't, but excellent nonetheless. And beautifully presented too.

My date had noodle soup with selection of seafood and couldn't get enough of its "breeziness". It was good, sure (the mussels came out of a tin, mind you) but had that last Templar-come-Holy Grail guardian knight from the Last Crusade been there, I would have been the one at the receiving end of that slow, appreciative nod: "you chose wisely". 

Desserts in Asian restaurants are never their forte - there's only so many times you can have deep-fried banana. In addition to that and the token ice cream plate there was something on the menu that sounded intriguing: Thai tapioca noodles cooked in sweet coconut sauce served with coconut ice cream. It had clearly sounded intriguing to other people as well seeing how it was out. So, deep-fried banana with coconut ice cream it was. Still, best deep-fried banana I think I've ever had.

The food along with a couple of Tsingtaos per head set us back € 80,20. And this time the first visit won't be the last - I'm going to have to get my hands all over that pork knuckle!




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