Anniversary dinner at Penélope

We celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary in early June and chose Penélope as the place for our anniversary dinner. The owners, Hans Välimäki and Arto Rastas, say that they decided to open a restaurant where they would like to go. An uncomplicated restaurant that focuses on high-quality ingredients and friendly service. A restaurant where customers are treated like you would treat your guests at home. Every portion has a story that has become etched in out memory thanks to its deliciousness – a story we want to share with you. Before dinner we enjoyed some champagne at the Champagne bar at Stockmann. I decided to try something a little different, Veuve Clicquot Rich Rosé, which is a very fruity champagne with 12% red wine. It has a higher dosage of Pinot Noir than the traditional Veuve Clicquot (45%) which gives the flavor more depth.

Inside Penélope, picture from hs.fi/nyt/

I immediately liked the vibe of the place. We started with an aperitif and took some time to study the menu. There was a nice selection of cocktails to choose from and the ones we had were tasty and refreshing. The menu is divided into seven sections: Bread & Dips, Small, Charcuterie, Medium, Large, Sides & Extras and Desserts. The idea is that you can mix and match from all sections and the food is brought to the table whenever it is ready so it’s not the traditional starter, main & dessert approach. There was also a separate specials menu.

My aperitif cocktail

We decided to both have three small portions and one large portion each. I had Siikli, vendace roe & smoked fresh butter, Scallop & summer truffle, and an Asian inspired Arctic Char dish from the specials menu. Hubby ate Asian style beef tartar & shiso, Gambas pil pil, and Quenelle de brochet. All the small portions were lovely and there were some clever ideas like the smoked butter with the potatoes, the crispy potatoes on top of the scallop, and the coriander and sesame oil with the tartar. My large portion was Pan fried white fish & wild mushrooms and Penélopes ”Clam Chowder” and hubby’s was Chicken “Piri Piri” inspired by Carlos Henriquez. We had planned to share a portion of Patatas fritas mojo rojo with our large portions but forgot to order them, which was actually not a problem because there was plenty of food anyway. The large portions were also nice. The only issue was that the small portions were served relatively quickly but then we had to wait quite a long time until eventually a waiter came around to ask if everything was okay and I said yes but we were waiting for our mains. This resulted in the mains being served so quickly that my guess is they simply had forgotten to serve them and the food felt like it had waited under a heat lamp for quite some time. This probably affected the food somewhat and I’m sure the large portions would have been better if they had been served right away after preparation, for example the skin on my fish was not crispy at all, which I believe it was supposed to be.

Siikli, vendace roe & smoked fresh butter
Scallop & summer truffle
Asian inspired arctic char
Asian style beef tartar & shiso
Gambas pil pil
Quenelle de brochet
Pan fried white fish & wild mushrooms and Penélopes ”Clam Chowder”
Chicken “Piri Piri” inspired by Carlos Henriquez

The food and atmosphere at Penélope were great and apart from the small mishap with the mains the service was also good. The place was packed and without a reservation there was no way we would have gotten a table. I really liked the idea of the different portion sizes and would like to go back for a cocktail or two and some of the smaller dishes instead of a full-blown dinner. I am also interested to see how the menu evolves depending on the time of the year.

We rounded off the evening with G&Ts at Casa Largo. A great anniversary celebration and now we start our 23rd year of marriage.

Birthday dinner at Sikke’s

This year for my birthday we had booked a table at the recently (mid-April) opened restaurant Sikke’s. The restaurant calls itself a neighborhood bistro that you can easily pop into for a glass of wine and a small bite at the bar or stay longer and have dinner. We arrived a couple of minutes early and had to wait a while for our table. Once we were seated we were asked if we would like an aperitif. I ordered a Negroni and hubby a Dry Martini.

A classic Negroni to start

We looked over the menu while enjoying our drinks. The menu consisted of four starters, four mains, four side dish options and five desserts. There were also a specials board with a few alternatives. I decided to start with mozzarella, salted lemons and thyme and hubby chose the beef tartar with crispy capers and an egg yolk. I ordered a glass of Riesling with the food and hubby had a beer. While we waited for our starters I noticed that other tables were served bread, but we did not get any. When the waiter brought the starters, he noticed that we didn’t have any bread and said he would bring some. I would have preferred to have the bread served before the starter which it apparently was supposed to be but at least we got some bread, which was delicious. The starters were both lovely and I was inspired by the salted lemons, I want to try to make them at home.

Mozzarella and salted lemons, a brilliant combo
The tartar meat melted in the mouth

For my main I had Arctic char with a sour milk and cucumber sauce and green asparagus and hubby ordered grilled rosemary Baltic herring with dandelion. With the mains we also ordered a serving of fries seasoned with rosemary salt and served with ketchup and aioli. The mains were well made with top notch ingredients and we enjoyed both. The fries were tasty, and the aioli was good, but we could not decide if we liked the ketchup or not – it seemed to have cinnamon in it, which was quite interesting. Once we had finished eating our mains we still had some fries left but the waiter was extremely quick to come and clear the plates and also took the fires away without asking if we wanted to finish eating them. This seemed a bit odd. The next less than perfect experience was that once the plates were cleared no one came to ask us whether we wanted something else, like dessert or more to drink. After waiting for someone to come for closer to 30 minutes I finally caught the attention of a waiter walking by and asked for the check. It was then brought rather promptly but once we had laid the card on top of the check to pay, we again had to wait for quite a while for someone to come and take the payment.

Beautifully fried Arctic char
Baltic herrings on a bed of dandelions

All in all, a nice dinner in a pleasant restaurant but the service still needs some tweaking. I am sure we will come back, and it will be interesting to see how the menu changes with the seasons. The restaurant also hosts something called pasta Sundays when they serve four different pasta dishes, a salad and focaccia to start and a dessert to finish. I would also like to check this out at some point.

The happy and well-fed b-day “girl”

Kokkeriet – well worth the money

On our last night in Copenhagen we had reserved a table at a one Michelin star restaurant called Kokkeriet. Kokkeriet describes itself as modern and old-fashioned, innovative and traditional, decadent and minimalist, formal as well as down to earth. The restaurant puts out dishes that lean on Danish tradition and grandma’s recipes but does so with a twist and a modern approach. The head chef Morten Krogholm describes his inspiration and philosophy: “For me, food is one of the most beautiful things in the world — it speaks for itself entirely. My style is based on four elements: nature – simplicity – flavor – Danish. In my gastronomic interpretation, Danish is when I’m able to create something that my guests do not immediately recognize, but which can suddenly take them back to childhood memories and experiences with a single special or recognizable scent or dish – although fragmented and assembled anew”.

Exterior image from thefork.com

Kokkeriet is a relatively small restaurant locate in Nyboder’s charming neighborhood in one of Copenhagen’s beautiful, old buildings. The restaurant received a Michelin star in 2006 but lost it in 2007 and managed to regain it in 2009. The Michelin inspectors’ comments on Kokkeriet in the 2019 Michelin guide: “The kitchen takes Danish classics and adds its own modern interpretation; dishes are fresh and colourful and all have their own story. The focus is on the tasting menu; veggies and vegans are well looked after. This very welcoming restaurant, once a corner shop, is intimate and contemporary.”

Interior image from thefork.com

Visiting a Michelin starred restaurants has been a dream of mine for years and now it was finally time to realize that dream. Kokkeriet that offers separate tasting menus for carnivores, pescetarians, vegetarians and vegans seemed like the perfect option. You can choose a shorter (8 course) or longer (12 course) menu which both begin with an amuse bouche. There is an option of a wine or juice pairing with the menus. We decided to try the 8 course pescatarian menu with the wine pairing. But before you even get to see the menu and order you are served 5 snacks to give you an idea of the food the restaurant serves. After the snacks you are presented with the menu from which you can chose either individual dishes or one of the tasting menus.

The first snack is served: egg – pearl onion – ash
Potato – anchovie – roe
Smoked bread – cream cheese – leek The bread rested on smoking pieces of wood
This one was challenging: octopus – lemon – chervil, as I don’t like octopus
The last snack rye bread – chocolate – pistachio was also called beer porridge
The amuse bouche lumpfish roe – buckwheat – cress
The bread basket was absolutely adorable
On to the actual menu, first starter scallop – cabbage – pear
Pike perch – blueberry – licorice Hubby wasn’t too conviced of pairing blueberries with fish but I liked it
Last starter halibut – caviar – thyme
Beetroot – cherry – tarragon Not my favorite as I’m not a big fan on beetroot and his had loads but it didi work well as sort of a palate cleanser before the mains
On to the mains turbot – ramson – celery
Cod – parsley – onion
The actual palate cleanser before the dessert pine – pear – yuzu
And finally, the dessert apple – sunflower – chamomile

The whole dining experience was excellent: the food, the ambiance, the wine pairings, the service… I could not fault anything. It was also a joy to watch the restaurant staff do their job, everything worked like a well-oiled machine. The only time we had to ask for something (more water when we had basically finished eating) the waiter seemed mortified that we had to ask. There were several small touches that I am sure have contributed to getting a star. When you asked for the restrooms you were taken there not just told where they were. One time I went to the restroom and left my napkin on the table it was changed as it had gotten slightly dirty when using it. The check was hand written and with it you got small individually packed handmade confections and a copy of the menu including the wines. As you were ready to leave, the entire staff that had served you came to bid you farewell. Naturally this was not the cheapest dining experience but well worth the money. Now I cannot wait to test out some other Michelin restaurants.