Actually, this is not a dinner date, as I actually took myself out for lunch. But hey, let’s not be pedantic here, it’s food! And for me this delicious visit was certainly a great inspiration to return for the dinner menu!
My first taste of Juuri was almost three years ago, at the Taste of Helsinki food festival. Back then they blew my mind in a way that I promised myself to only ever go back for a very special occasion. So, all these years passed and no occasion really ever seemed special enough to me, so I needed to fix that.
The last few weeks for me have been extremely busy, and especially regard of the third summer in a row without an actual holiday, I need to learn to take proper time off. Self-employment is really great and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but sometimes it’s easier to work than to remember to take a break too. I have massive FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to potential job opportunities or client contact of any kind, not so much on any kind of experiences, with those I’m very conscious and happy. But when it comes to work things, I’m still not in that phase were things are so stable that they would run on their own. And here’s a funny thing: I have SO much material for blog posts and articles, so many ideas and drafts piled up, that I don’t know where to start and as a result I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. Such paradox. But I pledge to be better, as one does. Anywho, the other day I did some light e-mailing in the morning and then looked at my calendar and my to-do list and realised that that day was actually pretty chill. Spontaneously, I decided to take the rest of the day off. I closed my laptop, put on lipstick and thought about what I could treat myself to, when it hit me: I will go for a fancy lunch. Lately I have been working from spaces near Juuri a lot, so I walked by all time, and that was my sign. Luckily they had a table for a late lunch available.
Juuri lies in the heart of the Helsinki Design District. “Juuri” means “root” in Finnish, showing their actual dedication to working with Finnish ingredients and with the developing food culture, without losing touch of the roots of it. Finnish food is generally very underappreciated and I’m happy that local restaurants take interesting approaches to interpret in in their own way. Juuri is famous for its “Sapas”, but even though the idea relates to small Finnish starters, they quickly turned into being the Finnish version of Tapas. Small, fine dishes, of which during the dinner menu you can order as many as you want, the lunch menu offers them as part of the starter or main course menu. This restaurant has been around since 2004, which is pretty remarkable, but then again, it doesn’t surprise me
As I was in for a proper treat, I went for the full three course menu, which during lunch hours is priced at a very affordable 26€, which would maybe get you a main course during dinner hours, so the lunch option is an amazing deal. I got started with some delicious bread along with some sea buckthorn juice, to complete my Finnish experience. I do judge restaurants a lot by their bread, something so simple requires so much skill and yet also the modesty to not exaggerate it while trying to make it special. For the starter I got a refreshing pea soup with pickled cucumber and some pike perch that melted in my mouth. The pea soup is a staple of Finnish cuisine, typically eaten in a very hearty way with meat, and some pancakes for dessert (usually Thursdays), but this version surprised me with a light texture, strong flavours and even the pickles fit in just perfectly, and I have to admit that those made me a little sceptical.
The Sapas were naturally what I was most excited about. The very colourful selection featured a super smooth carrot mousse – yes, that actually amazed me, again, so simple yet it can be so tricky! On the main plate I got an egg yolk confit with a cream and I think they were lentils (?), with a unique combination of textures and flavours that, in combination, was probably my highlight of the lunch feast. Along came arctic char with a delicate potato salad and cottage cheese; spring chicken with pickled onion and carrot (probably the least impressive, but still delicious) and a lamb sausage with cabbage, sauerkraut and home-made curry salt.
For dessert, I was lucky that it was a black currant dish, as currants are one of my favourite kind of berries. I like the sour taste and the natural sweetness in them. The black currant mousse and something like a thick pudding, was joined by a some sour cream and milk chocolate. Perfectly paired on this very afternoon with a unique blend of coffee, exclusive to the restaurant.