Two dinners in Kuopio
I had made reservations in advance for our dinners in Kuopio. On the first evening, we dined at Keisarinsatama, which is located three kilometers outside the city center. The restaurant is housed in an old brewery building called Kotkan Höyrypanimo (Kotka Steam Brewery). Keisarinsatama means the Emperor’s Harbor. The name stems from the end of the 17th century when the Emperor of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland, Alexander III, spent time at the Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge. When he arrived at the lodge, his ship was anchored at the spot where the restaurant is located. We started off with some local beers while studying the menu. Hubby had the house special Ukko named after Kotka Steam Brewery’s old Ukko beer. This beer is only available at this restaurant. I had a beer flavored with ginger called Skipper’s Ginger produced by Kotka Steam Brewery. Both were tasty and refreshing. For my starter, I ordered Orlov’s soup, which was a morel soup served with savory muffins. Hubby started with Parker’s appetizer consisting of pastrami, pickled cucumber with mustard, and capers. We enjoyed both starters but the muffins that were served with the soup were odd. My main was Aleksander’s Perch, a perch fillet fried in butter, with a cream sauce, dill potatoes, and a warm vegetable salad. Hubby had Tsar’s Salmon, grilled salmon with morel sauce, dill potatoes, and a warm vegetable salad. Both fish dishes were well prepared and tasted good. The food at Keisarinsatama could be described as traditional.
For Saturday I had booked a table at Restaurant Vausti. I read several comments saying this was one of the best restaurants in Kotka so my expectations were quite high. We kicked off dinner with a classic aperitif – a Negroni. The restaurant offered an à la carte menu, a summer menu, and two tasting menus (three or five courses). This time we decided to skip the tasting menus and order our starters and mains from the regular menus. I ended up ordering both from the summer menu while hubby ordered of the à la carte menu. My starter was a watermelon-tomato gazpacho with Serrano ham and Parmesan cheese. I’m not a big fan of ham, so hubby ate the Serrano. The soup was so fresh, and I liked how the watermelon lightened it up. It should come as no surprise that hubby chose the miso flavored tartar with fermented garlic mayonnaise. For our mains we chose a salmon burger with pickled cucumber, salad, and Remoulade sauce and whitefish from Ahvenkoski fried in brown butter and served with tomato and basil butter, spinach stewed in sour cream, funnel chanterelles and lentils. Both mains were good but a bit on the heavy side, which is not that usual for fish courses. Vausti was a really nice restaurant with great food and relaxed service. If I had to choose between the two restaurants we ate at, I would choose Vausti even though there was nothing wrong with Keisarinsatama either.