After a long first day wandering the streets of Helsinki, we started looking for a nice place to have dinner. After passing on many restaurants (so expensive!), we wanted to try Strindberg but on a Saturday night, they were totally full and wait would have been one or two hours. (We actually tried to return on Sunday night but they were closed!) After a disastrous attempt to get into an Italian restaurant and my putting my foot down at a restaurant that served Finnish, French and Asian food, we just decided to go to this centrally located steakhouse, Baker’s.
At first, I thought this was some kind of chain, what with the cartoony cow logo and the huge building, but the building was made up of a bar, a cafe and the restaurant upstairs (this seems to be the norm in Helsinki). And I’m not sure as I cannot read Finnish but there may be a sauna there too!
When I saw reindeer on the menu, I knew I had to try it! It was listed on the menu as roast reindeer, Baker´s seasoned butter sauce flavoured with vodka, potato mash with herbs. We both ordered it too! After taking our orders, our waiter directed our attention to the bread buffet – yes, a bread buffet! Is this a typical thing in Finland? We had quite a bit of the tasty brown bread and the flat rye rolls (these had a pleasant natural sweetness to them) and the accompanying soft butter and soft white cheese with plenty of those red peppercorns on top.
After perhaps a little too much bread, our reindeer arrived.
This was my plate. Now what was strange is that while my plate had a normal sized portion of reindeer sliced into four, poor Blai received a much smaller piece sliced in two. Oh, how forlornly he looked at my plate! I gave him one of my pieces and we were again on equal footing!
The reindeer was gamey as one would expect but the iron flavour was very subtle. The meat was lean and superbly tender (we had it cooked to medium). The accompanying sauce was just delicious and we used the mash to wipe up every last bit. Reindeer is a meat I wouldn’t mind eating again!
There was definitely space for dessert! Blai had the frozen raspberries, warm white chocolate sauce and chocolate mousse
while I chose the cloudberry vanilla parfait and melba sauce.
What really struck me about the desserts were how unsweet they were, something I had noticed with a blueberry tart we’d had in a cafe earlier that afternoon. Even the chocolate mousse had barely any sugar in it, making it for one of the most cocoa rich mousses I’d ever tasted. Is this a typically Finnish dessert trait? I chose my dessert as I wanted to try the famous Scandinavian/Finnish cloudberry and it’s flavour wasn’t exactly what I was expecting! Don’t get me wrong – it’s not unpleasant but I think I was expecting something akin to a raspberry. Instead, it’s… well, it’s hard to describe but I would say it’s almost like a mixture of tropical fruits. If you want to try them, the Ikeas in the UK sell cloudberry jam. The whipped cream in our desserts (under the berries and decorating my parfait) had a strange powdery texture and again, it was unsweetened – I chose to just leave mine on the side.
We left full and content; I felt that we’d stumbled onto a gem of a place. It wasn’t a cheap restaurant but I felt that the quality of the food was consistent with the price (read: I didn’t feel ripped off). So, lesson learnt: if there’s a particular restaurant you want to visit, book it! If not, it doesn’t matter, you might end up discovering a great place.
Baker´s Bar & Restaurant