The Sofia building was designed back in 1913 already, and is a central part of the historic centre of Helsinki. Once home to Stockmann, in the last years it was home to a café and office space, but since August 2018, Sofia Future Farm has opened its doors. Combining an elegant co-working space with event areas and a wonderful lunch bistro, it has brought much attention through its warm and modern design, really providing a platform for the creative community to get together, and also, have great lunch. The latest addition to the offer of the space, is Sofia Gastro, a cozy and low-key fine dining restaurant that not only stunning because of the amazing view, but also thanks to the culinary creations from the kitchen.
I was away by myself during both Christmas and New Year’s, so we went to treat us to a nice dinner. Yes, I’m probably a bit biased as I’m a member at Sofia Future Farm (which gives me a discount, but this dinner wasn’t sponsored) and work in their beautiful space, but I honestly have only good things to say about the place as a whole, so it was only a matter of time and curiosity that I wanted to try the newly opened Gastro side as well. We went for the 6-course surprise menu, one vegetarian and one regular version. We got a call two days before to confirm the reservation and to notify them of any dietary restrictions or allergies – which was already a great start to the service experience.
The setting is pretty minimalistic, not much decor besides the small table lights and some plants. The room itself feels a bit like a living room, it’s facing the Senate Square – and let me tell you, that view is the most perfect backdrop for a fancy dinner. When one of my favourite songs was playing when we came in, that was already setting the perfect tone for the evening, so thanks to whoever chose the playlist – because it continued just as wonderfully. We always say that a good restaurant can be judged easily by the simple things, like the bread offering. And we were off with a good start as we got some Sea buckthorn berry malt bread, Black baguette (coloured with squid ink), Brioche and Poppy seed and cumin crackers, along with Hay smoked butter and Caramelized carrot puree. Hell yes. This was amazing, especially the Sea buckthorn malt bread that was really something, sticky and warm and so unique. The black baguette was my second favourite, crispy and soft – I’m so happy we got offered “refills” on the bread all night.
The Amuse Bouche that was served along our glasses of Champagne to start this night, were vegetables from the Kaupunkilaiten oma pelto biodynamic farm, and here the presentation already set the bar pretty high for the rest of the dinner. Pickled carrot with tarragon, Onion ring with freeze-dried vinegar and beet root and Beet root stalk with black currant.
For the starter, I got a hand-dived scallop from Norway, the veggie counterpart being organic tofu, with a white chocolate with Yuzu fruit, sea weed and mesquite smoke. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of scallops – as in, I wouldn’t order it, but I gladly try it if it’s part of a menu – and this wasn’t my favourite part of the dinner, it did enjoy it. It was easily outshined by starter #2, which was Kobe beef – and this marked a premiere for me, with gem salad, parmesan and black pepper emulsion topped with a tarragon vinaigrette and frozen horseradish. This was absolutely amazing. I never knew what was meant with “the meat melts in your mouth”, and let me tell you, now I do. Totally wowed, I’m just gonna say that event the nicest confit fennel couldn’t keep up with this. And I like fennel.
The next highlight was the floofy soup – “Vichysoisse”. Floofy because it wasn’t liquid, but also not solid, but. Well, floofy. Like a foamy cream, that’s probably the closest description I could come up with. In the “soup” were potatoes cooked in coal butter and pickled and burnt leek. I could eat this every day.
For the main dishes, I started off with the seafood course: Black root celery sprinkled with silver, accompanied by radishes and scallop paper, cashew nut puree and Caviar and some Beurre Blanc sauce. This was another winner, and both the vegetarian and the fish version of this dish were beautiful and delicious, my first thought was that it looked like a dragon. By this time, we happily devoured also the third tray of bread. Yes.
Anjou Pigeon was the meaty main for me, which was another first, and roasted Jerusalem artichokes for the Veg side. Both came with False morels stuffed with confit pigeon and portobello mushrooms (still interesting that false morels are both toxic and deadly if not handled correctly, but are considered a totally normal delicacy in Finland and other Nordics) in addition to chestnuts, Jerusalem artichoke puree and pigeon raspberry sauce, respectively cabbage onion sauce. An amazing dish full of flavour, the meat was as soft and tender as it could be, and an absolute pleasure. The sauce went perfectly with it, and the false morels were interesting and tasty, especially with that filling.
Then, I learned that there is such a thing as pre-dessert, which I can absolutely get behind. Every dessert should have a pre-dessert. Even though lemon marengue is probably another thing I wouldn’t opt for if given choices, the pear sorbet was nice and the frozen champagne marengue and pear foam were delicious. This could have easily been the main dessert as well, but given my complicated relationship with citrussy desserts, I was quite happy that the actual dessert was way more up my alley: it was a Chocolate Dome with Espresso mousse, Chocolate nemesis and the smoothest Black currant sorbet I have ever tasted. All in all this was the perfect closing to the menu.
The whole evening was so special, and I do wanna give an extra mention for the service, both to the staff who helped so kindly with the selection of the wine and made sure everything was going wonderfully and at the right timing, but also to head chef Pauli who brought out and explained every detail of every single course. At Sofia Gastro you really get a VIP treatment, a delicious menu that was thoughtfully curated, with mainly organic ingredients and is pure visual art, all while managing to not be pretentious at all, with a stunning view in a wonderful atmosphere.
The 6-course dinner takes about 2.5-3 hours, and sets you back 68€ which I honestly think is great value. There’s also a 3-course version available, but the longer version is an incredible evening-filling experience and I’m happy I changed my mind to that. Do book in advance as there are not that many tables. For a more affordable yet still delicious experience, drop by the Sofia Bistro for their lunch.
Remember to ask for extra bread.
Address: Sofia Future Farm / Sofiankatu 4 – entrance though from the Unioninkatu side!