Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dining and w(h)ining in Helsinki: Pastor Restaurant

The restaurant scene in Helsinki is right now so very much happening I can barely keep up. New restaurant (and speakeasies!) are popping up everywhere. We've had our share or authentic Asian flavours, there have even been a couple of African restaurants and even mex-mex made its long-awaited arrival at Helsinki. Yesterday saw the opening of what is looking like this autumn's hottest ticket: Restaurant Pastor with their take on Peruvian (!) cuisine. 

We (and all the other supermodels...!) checked the place out at yesterday's brunch.

Overall appearance is fresh with a generous handful of that Scandinavian minimalism thrown in - in a way that compliments the beautiful and sculptural lines of the building itself. The date paid special attention to the successfully designed lighting and sound system (the things boys notice...!)

People behind the restaurant include some of the most experienced and successful in restaurant business in Finland. And yes, one famous actor. Fear not though - this is not going to be a celebrity restaurant, I'm told (with laughter!) - it's all about good food.

Peruvian food is a new experience for  me (well, apart from ceviche, that is). Their national dish is not on the menu though... (yes, guinea pig. And yes, I would have had some!)

The menu is described with the world nikkei which refers to Peruvian culinary traditions being happily mixed with the trendy East Easian (and Spanish!) vibe. Ceviche is well represented on the menu and deservedly so. The thing that got my heart pumping though... Octopus confit (!!!). 

As in the cultures the dishes hail from they are meant to be shared. There'sdinner (set menus starting at €52) and lunch (depending on the umber of dishes prices range from €15 to €33). Stay tuned for their laid-back brunch too!

The wine list, hand-picked by Pekka Koiranen is impressive and boasts about 150 choices. And a further couple of dozen outside the list, too. And 50 Cent, in case you're reading this: yes there's Cristal too. 

Drinks menu is equally impressive with tequilas particularly well represented on the list. There are herbs, variety of infused liqueurs and jams galore. Pastor isn't even afraid to put their own twist n the classics. Bloody Mary for instance is jazzed up a bit by a sprinkling of saffron...!

We kicked the merry afternoon off with some bubbly...

... and continued with it even through the hot dogs we sampled. A nice match.

For sweet treats there were these gloriously divine tartalettes that I simply couldn't get enough of. Just ask The Boy Next Door. I even ate his. And then some. 

Relaxed music, great service, wonderful company and all the treats made for such a nice flow we didn't want to leave. So, we stayed on the sample the actual menu too. To start with tostada with marinated white fish. Which was really nice. Guacamole had excellent acidity - points for that!

Then off to chicken empanadas. Dreamily crisp and light crust and perfectly seasoned filling. No, never had better. No, not even in Spain!

For mains we we're recommended Gambas that got their kick from soy, ginger, lemon grass and Peruvian chile sauce. Dios Mios, the size of them! And taste!

And for me...don't tell me you didn't see it coming: octopus confit, claro que si! Why, oh why haven't I ever thought of that? The result? Tender. Lovely. Soft. Lovely. Melt-in-your-mouth-gorgeously lovely. Not a big portion though. Tapenade gave it a good edge. 

I'd put a heart symbol here if only I didn't still remember how old and pathetically un-street cred I am.

With desserts I made history and for the first time ever did not succumb to the tempting calls of crème brûlè. Instead I had Crema Batida (chilli-infused dark chocolate fondant with orange ice cream). And it was good. Not as gooey as I had hoped and the orange ice cream wasn't very orangey, but good nonetheless.

But the other dessert, Blanco (roasted white chocolate mousse with caramelized banana and toffee ice cream) was just what you'd think. Over the top. Sinfully sweet. Heaven on a plate. Especially with a sprinkling of fleur de sel.

A massive thank to the fantastic hosts and good luck with your new venture. Though... with prime location, its casual but decidedly cool vibe, customer service that truly rocks and menu like this... you don't really need luck - this place can only be a hit!




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