This could be my favourite restaurant – and I don’t say this lightly! After several visits to Werner and always being somewhat mind-blown from flavour, composition and just sheer delight in various aspects, I got to visit this amazing place again recently and try a best-of their current and upcoming menu. Fresh from the grill, their dishes are just simply something else. Let me show you why.
Werner’s cuisine focuses on combining many local ingredients with flavours and inspiration from the Mediterranean, without becoming pretentious. The open grill is definitely something that’s unique to Helsinki’s restaurant scene, the bright atmosphere while still being cosy fits the elegant setting on Bulevardi just perfectly. It’s just a sheer pleasure to sit by the souterrain windows and watch life pass while you’re enjoying your meal. Even though the grill theme might give the impression of being a solely meat focussed restaurant – they’re not. The meats are cooked to perfection yes, but the vegetarian options are just equally great.
My first visit was on a dinner date with a dear friend already at the beginning of this year, and it stuck with me as being one of the most memorable meals ever. Yet, it took me all this time before I went back for brunch a couple of weeks ago, which was also insanely delicious and rich which flavours and thought. My most recent visit allowed me a peek into the kitchen as well, to get some input from the head chef and his jolly team, who clearly love their job and the fun with the grill.
We started off with Blue mussels in tomato sauce with feta, some bBeef tartar, fire roasted aubergine and onion alongside of Werner’s own charcuterie. Mussels especially are one of my favourite dishes and it’s hard to find them prepared properly – the combination of feta and tomato with mussels was new to me but it was absolutely delicious. Same with the beef tartar, which is something pretty normal in Luxembourg where I’m from, but it’s difficult to find in Finland. I wonder why actually, it’s not like the temperatures would make it difficult to keep (ha!), so imagine my happiness when I finally got some of that goodness. The charcuterie worked just well on its own, so did the grilled Finnish flatbread and brown butter – chewy, yet soft and flavourful – straight from the open grill. Say what you will, but the Finns know their bread.
The highlight of the menu is very clearly the whole whitefish dish. This isn’t really something overly typical for Finland – fish is usually served as a filet but not really ever as a whole unless you go fish and grill it yourself. Grilled fish gets a unique consistency and of course, the charcoal flavours add their parts. It was joined by sunflower seed pesto, radishes and – my favourite – the orange-braised endive that also came straight off the grill. I’d never thought I’d say this: but oh boy, grilled salad is amazing! It sounds weird, but it’s fantastic. Give it a go!
The vegetarian main dish was grilled mushrooms, kale and some of the best hummus I’ve come around. So despite the fact that it’s a grill and consequently somewhat meat-focused restaurant, both vegetarians and vegans are taken care of with no compromises. We experienced the same at the brunch recently, which offers a fish, a meat and a vegetarian version and all of them were mind-blowingly delicious.
Back to this – time for dessert! Fresh off the upcoming menu came a caramelised puff pastry with baked apple, vanilla cream and a raw-apple sorbet which tasted so pure and fresh of real, actual apples. I’m easily biased with these, as I love anything that entails baked goods and apples.
Restaurant Werner is hands-down my new and current favourite restaurant in Helsinki. I’ve thoroughly had the most amazing food here on all my visits, and it has been fantastic every time. Portions are huge – you won’t be disappointed. This is high quality food, but not fine dining – but as my friend would call it, “honest food”. I can’t wait to go back and take everyone I know here as well!
THANK YOU ladies and gents at Ravintola Werner for making this post possible. You are amazing and I’m hungry now.
BONUS: Brunch magic!
Werner’s brunch also is on top of my list of places to return to. Definitely more of a lunch-type of brunch, you can choose between a fish, meat or vegetarian brunch and you’ll get a massive platter full of chosen delicacies from the grill and salads and spreads to share. A feast for the eye and your belly.