A few weeks back I heard the concept wild food for the first time. It all makes sense now, several restaurants offer self picked kale, or apples from the chefs backyard. It is not just about growing with ecological methods, its about picking food from the wild. Ingredients without any production-like manipulation. That is wild food, and supposedly it is very cool.
I am not sure how I feel about concept of wild food. It kind of feels like it’s the in-food of 2015. Not sure how long its affair with the world of foodies will last. However, I must say I have just had one of the best restaurant experiences of my life at Chef & Sommelier (Helsinki) specializing in this niche. Maybe its not just a trendy term. Perhaps there is more to it. Our food experience at the restaurant was accompanied with a set of fantastic nature wines, so I feel this whole experience must be shared on the blog.
The restaurant has a varying menu, depending what the chefs have been growing/ catching that week. You can choose from 4 to 9 courses. As it is still technically winter, many of the courses featured game and root vegetables. We actually both took 5 course menus (from a selection of 9 dishes all together). As always, we ended up choosing completely different dishes (except for the cheese, that we both had), so we were able to taste absolutely everything. The list of foods looked the following:
- Deer and mushroom
- Artichoke and reindeer
- King crab and pike
- Goodio and cherry (dessert)
- Potato and almond
- Carrot and pumpkin
- Root celery and blackcurrant
- Parsnip from Majvik (dessert)
The big surprise of the night was the parsnip, which was a dessert. It was super sweet and tasty. It was the type of experience where you realize that you have hated parsnip for no reason at all. You have just never had good parsnip. Other highlights were the potato and almond and carrot and pumpkin dishes. These guys really know what to do with their veggies. All in all, there was not one dish that was even mediocre. All were really good if not fantastic. The price of the five course menu was 60 € (nothing).
We also took a wine flight, starting with a glass of bubbly each. I went for the Eric Rodez Cuvee des Crayerez champagne and M tried something quite unusual, an Italian sparkling, Mio Malvasia, that was made with the ancestral method. The sparklings were followed by some amazing whites: Langhe Bianco 2004 from Piemonte, and a Cheverny from Herve Villemade. The best of all was however Le Puits Sauvignon Blanc from Olivier Lemasson. We also tried some dessert wine and a ruby reserva port. The wines together (around four glasses each) cost us around 80€. Yes, all together. Not a bad deal at all.
The best thing about the restaurant was definitely the food, but I would not like to undermine the service. It was great. The chefs took their time to serve the dishes and chat about where they have sourced their ingredients. Even though the restaurant was full, the staff never seemed stressed or in a hurry. It is an art of its own to manage a busy restaurant like that. Reminds me of the spotless yet casual style of the French Laundry. The service was like a dance and I have heard the staff there all take ballet classes to move around in a graceful manner. Well I doubt the buys at Chef and Sommelier took ballet, but they definitely seemed genuinely happy to be there. M was particularly pleased as one of the chefs was a bit of a coffee-geek and we got the perfect cup of White Label Ethiopian as a digestive.
So I would rate this as a perfect experience. There is nothing I would change. Nothing at all.