When it comes to dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, I actually prefer lunch to dinner. It is usually a calmer time to visit and the price of a menu is easily half compared to having an evening meal. Especially when living in London, the starred restaurants had fabulous lunch and pre-/post-theater deals starting from around 20£ for a set three courses. God I miss London! Last week we visited one of the newer restaurants in Helsinki that has been rewarded a star by Guide de Michelin, Restaurant Ask.
The concept of the restaurant is pure ingredients, produced ecologically or bio-dynamically, sourced from local (or as close by as possible) farms and producers. The place reminds me of Volt in Stockholm and the concept is very trendy right now. Almost, but not quite, passé. The wine list has also been thoroughly considered and sourced from small and medium-sized producers. The champagne list is to die for (Selosse, Doquet Tarlant, Veuve Forny etc) and the selection of reds and whites interesting, however, only from the “old-world”. Next time, I will make sure to come with a bigger group so that we can order by the bottle.
The lunch menu was simple: four courses selected by the chef. There was a possibility for a drinks pairing, however we came to the conclusion that it was too early for too much wine and decided to just pick and choose a few glasses: an aperitif and a glass with the food. The bubbly by the glass was Veuve Forny & Fils Blanc de Blancs served from a magnum bottle. I really like Veuve Forny and think it is a good value for money champagne, however, the blanc de blancs fell a bit short, and at 17€ a glass it was not really worth it. I was happy though that it was served from a Lehman glass. I have been meaning to try those out.
The food was absolutely beautiful, and tasty of course. We had Tagates and greens for a starter, a white fish for seconds (M had some new potatoes and egg as he is not the one for seafood), ox and roots for the main course and a sweet strawberries with elderflower shaved ice. On top of that we had home baked bread with yummy butter, root chips with a yogurt dip, and as palate cleanser, spruce sorbet. The food was very well made and we enjoyed every bite. I paired the food with a Portuguese, dry Vinho Verde (green wine) and M with a local micro-brewery beer. Both tasted wonderful with the fresh ingredients. To finish the meal, Ask had coffee prepared with a Chemex! This is a big plus as it is not many restaurants that cater to the coffee-curious. We have never really understood why quality coffee is so widely neglected at great restaurants. It is, after all, the last “course” on the menu and the last memory of the meal. Ask’s selection of coffees was from Johan & Nyström. Good, but nothing exciting, so we passed and headed somewhere else for our coffees. However, I really appreciated that Ask had thought about this.
All in all the experience was very positive. Not outstanding, but I get it why Ask received it’s star. Service was very friendly. Not as knowledgeable (wine-wise) as I think it “should” have been, but really the waiter was very sweet and sought answers to all of our questions (even the stupid ones). The price for the four course lunch was 49€, so I would say it was ok, but not cheap. The drinks pairing was priced at 41€ (I expect it contained 3-4 drinks). But as we just took individual glasses, the restaurant charged us 10€ per drink. This, I feel was way better value than the champagne aperitif.
Dear Ask, I will definitely visit again. And next time, I will bring some friends and raid your wine-list. Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us next time!