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A unique experience with natural local flavours: Restaurant OLO (29. July 2017)

| October 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

What you experience at the OLO is “The Journey” which is basically what you get there – one menu (EUR 109.00) only and there is no other selection. You are allowed to note what you are allergic to and could potentially vote out a couple of courses but the concept really is “one menu for everyone”.

At the end of the menu, you also get a list of what you’ve actually been eating which turns out to be quite interesting – quite some combinations were new to me.

I like when the menu has a descriptive element to it elaborating on the concept of the kitchen – OLO basically focuses on the pureness of the flavours it serves as well as on the seasonality.

As you can see from the menu – you can basically only chose if you want to combine your dishes with wine or not. Else, there is nothing to chose besides the “additional cheese plate”. What I was quite surprised by but also liked a lot was the fact that you get unlimited water for EUR 4.00.

Once you’re seated you find some dough in a put on the table – wondering what it is you are instructed to not touch it, to not poke a hole in it. Well, makes sense that you don’t do that anyway but frankly, it was a bit funny at first. It’ll become clear throughout the night what this bread thing is all about.

The menu starts with a rather interesting first course – “fennel”. I mean, there is not really that much special about fennel but the fact that the fennel including all its leaves (not even sure you call it like that) is served as a starter and you basically eat the whole thing is quite unusual. However, I must say it was surprisingly delicious.

Luckily, they had brought the hot towels to clean your hands before you were served the fennel making sure that you would eat it with clean hands.

When you read “smoked salmon and nasturtium and oyster leaf and oyster” you would expect a bit more than what we got served. It was basically a bed of salads enriched for a flower as well as tiny dots with the taste of oyster – definitely interesting but not yet the big bang.

Next in line was a “dehydrated carrot and seaweed”. While it did look rather boring I must admit that it was actually absolutely mouth-watering. The dehydrated carrots had an amazing consistency and the seaweed which was used to improve the taste of it really added that little extra.

Again, reading the dish really made me wondering about what they were going to serve rather than being excited about the dish – “chicken skin and poultry stock” was definitely not what I had expected. The poultry stock was of an incredible intensity and richness like I’ve never had before. The chicken skin was served in the form of a cracker which was definitely better than any chicken skin I’ve had before.

Now, the “chicken liver with blueberry” which came with the stock and the skin was great as it was served in the form of a ‘chocolate’ and when you would bite on it the blueberry flavour would slightly explode and mix with the intense taste of chicken liver.

When I had read “mushroom pie” I was definitely expecting something different than what we got. However, while it was more a cracker with some mushrooms on it and some mushroom powder, the flavours were once again pure and intense – truly tickling your taste buds.

I had no clue – and still don’t – what exactly “emmer semolina” is but it was served “with reindeer heart”. While I was wondering a bit what would expect me in terms of flavours and consistency, I was definitely positively surprised (despite not being sure what I got) – the dish was great as it consisted of different textures: crumbles, creamy, crunchy.

The next course was “cauliflower and blue mussels” which was then enriched …

… with a reduction. The dish was absolutely sound but nothing extraordinary.

My absolute highlight was the next course – to some degree the simplest course but on the other hand definitely the best one: “Olo’s bread and baby lamb from Meri-Lappi”. At first you would only get a wax paper with a wooden knife and some butter. Given I was still quite hungry I was just trying a tiny bit of the butter and it was absolutely amazing. Basically, the butter was gone before the rest was served …

Besides the butter, they served different spreads like “fermented garlic”, “olive oil and balsamico” and “broccoli”. Definitely more interesting than your average everyday spread.

And finally, the bread was served. The one which was standing as “dough” on your table when you arrived. It was warm, intensely smelling like fresh bread, and it was mouth-watering! What made the whole dish even better was the “lamb tartare” which was also served with the bread. Now, I never really had in mind that one could eat lamb meat raw – but hell yes, you can! It was absolutely exceptional.

Next in line was a course called “tomato and goat cheese” which was interesting as the powder in the bowl was basically dried tomato powder – intense yet delicious.

At first, I considered the “sole with summer potatoes” rather boring until …

… it was refined with a reduction making it quite a well-balanced and yet interesting dish.

The tiny slice of “pike perch with fish flakes and caviar” was interesting but the crunchiness of the flakes was a bit too much for my personal gusto – especially as the crunchiness is rather rough and not like bread crumbs but of a rough consistency.

The refinement with the reduction – third by now – made it better but still didn’t compensate for the “too crunchy flakes”.

The opinions about the next course were quite different at our table – some of us really loved it (e.g. I did), the “sweetbreads of veal with onions” – others disliked it due to its rather smooth consistency.

With the reduction (number 4), it made for a great dish – at least in my book.

We decided to go for the “cheese platter” (+ EUR 14.90) which was quite interesting as the cheeses were all quite intense and flavourful. Especially the blue cheese though. I would have been happy to know what kind of cheese I’m eating – but unfortunately, it was never explained.

As a little break in betweeen, they served a “strawberry drink” which reminded me a bit of strawberry toothpaste I’ve had as a kid.

Now, when the next course got served you were kind of wondering why the hell they would put stones on your plate …

… but it turned out to be “frozen yogurt stones with dill and cucumber”. Not a natural combination for dessert but it seems to be a thing in Finland as we also had it at another restaurant a few days later. However, it was actually quite refreshing!

After a couple of hours we came to an end – well, almost, that is. The “summer berries, milk and lemon verbena” looked truly gorgeous …

… and the little frozen balls of lemon added a bit to the picture. Now, looks are one thing but the truly interesting part was the combination of flavours – a lovely balance between the fruity berries of the forest and the acidic taste of the lemon.

After all these courses, it became time for the friandises which were “raspberry and rose” …

… and “blackcurrant jelly”. While the friandises were good they were not good as the courses throughout the evening.

What I loved a lot about the place – besides the fact that they have an open kitchen and you can watch them prepare your dishes – was the decoration. Especially the chandelier was lovely consisting of small illuminated leaves.

With regards to the service, I must admit that there is – again – a difference in the quality of the service depending on who is your waiter. In the very beginning we have had another waiter which wasn’t really up to the task. However, after that, we had a new waiter called Mikael, and he did a marvelous job. Always friendly, always helpful, dealing with all complicated requests of all members of our table while even being jovial at the appropriate times. Thumbs up to that!

When it comes to alcohol, the prices are kind of incredible – but not in a positive way. For rather simple things you pay quite a lot – a bottle of “Tabula, Ribera del Duoro, 2014” you end up paying EUR 100.00, for a bottle of “Broccardo Barbera d’Alba, 2015” EUR 50.00 and for a “Botijo Rojo Plo” EUR 75.00. At least the other beverages are decent in terms of pricing (e.g. a double espresso accounts for EUR 5.70 and unlimited sparkling water for EUR 4.00).

Overall, the OLO is definitely worth visiting – lovely food – just one menu – intense but natural flavours – great interior – and exquisite service! Just how it should be! Just make sure to book your table in advance!


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Contact Details:

Restaurant OLO

Pohjoisesplanadi 5

00170 Helsinki (FI)

Tel.: +358 10 320 62 50

E-Mail: info@olo-ravintola.fi

Homepage: http://www.olo-ravintola.fi

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.
EUR 975.00 (incl. tip) Filed in: Helsinki (FI), Restaurants

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