St. George & Ventuno

This year to celebrate hubby’s birthday I booked a room at the new boutique hotel St. George that opened in Helsinki this past spring and a table at restaurant Ventuno that had opened its doors in September. The room I booked was a Sky Attic Studio at the top floor of the hotel with lovely views of the Old Church Park. The room was perfect for a short stay but would feel quite small for say a week’s vacation. The hotel offers a spa, Wintergarden restaurant and bar, restaurant Andrea – where Nordic and Anatolian kitchens meet, and the St. George Bakery café with the first ever Monocle Shop in the Nordic countries.

 

 

After checking in at the hotel we headed out for some lunch and shopping. We had lunch at Kamppi shopping mall’s Kortteli restaurant world at Beijing8, a dumpling restaurant. After lunch and shopping we headed back to the hotel and visited the Wintergarden bar for a cocktail. I liked the atmosphere in the bar and the cocktail was good too. Then we withdrew to our room to relax and get ready for dinner.

Dumplings with broccoli and edamame sides
 
Wintergarden had some nice private rooms
 

Ventuno was quite surprising, as we walked in, the place seemed noisy and slightly chaotic but when we were taken to our table, the atmosphere changed to a calm and relaxing place. So the front café/bar type area was really bustling, while the dining room/osteria was calm even though fully booked. We started with an aperitif while studying the menu. We ordered the Ventuno Degustazione tasting menu accompanied with the recommended wine package. The menu consisted of: Arancini /Lemon & thyme flavoured crispy risotto ball, thyme-parmesan dressing), Alici & N’Duja (Fennel cracker, spicy n´duja sausage, anchovy, dill, pecorino), Kingfish Bianco (Raw marinated kingfish, green olives, pistachio vinaigrette, lemon jam cremé), Casarecce al Ragù (Braised brisket ‘ragù’, confit garlic, toasted almonds, gremolata), Capesante & Gamberetti (Roasted scallops, dried tomato-shrimp dressing, saffron, trout roe), Pesce Piccata (Roasted fish of the day, olive oil hollandaise, salted halibut fritters) with Gratin di Patate (Potato, cabbage, caramel onions, parmesan) , and for dessert  Limoncello (Lemon pie, meringue, blackberries, blackberry sorbet, limoncello jus). The food was really good and we loved every course except for the Pesce Piccata, which seemed a bit too heavy with both hollandaise sauce, a fritter and creamy potatoes. It also did not seem very Italian to us. However, all in all the menu was really good as where the wines. The service was also good and the waitress followed our wishes regarding pausing between certain courses. The only small faux pas happened with the wine as we had to ask for the third wine when we were served the fish and this wine was supposed to be served already with the scallops. We will come back to this restaurant when the menu changes.

Back at the hotel when we tried to get to sleep we noticed that the control panel for the door was super bright so I had to drape a towel over it. Once the panel was covered we got a good night’s sleep in a bed that was slightly too soft. In the morning it was time for breakfast that on weekends was served until noon, which is a huge plus. The breakfast was quite good but I found the bread selection a bit disappointing. For a hotel that advertises its own bakery only being served a small basket of one type of bread with a small serving of butter was a letdown. Also, the selection of cold cuts was very limited. The omelets and home-made yogurt were a nice touch. All in all, I loved the feel of the hotel and the staff was really friendly but Hotel Haven still remains our favorite boutique hotel in Helsinki.

WeeGee & Moms

Last Saturday we visited the WeeGee exhibition centre in Espoo to see the civil war in Espoo exhibition at the Espoo City Museum, KAMU. The exhibition was very interesting. We also took a look at the Futuro house, which I had wanted to see for some time but it was rather disappointing and I wasn’t even able to get a picture of the house even though I tried. This time we didn’t visit the exhibitions of Emma (Espoo museum of modern art). On the way to the exhibition centre we jumped off the metro at Koivusaari to check out the only metro station in the world located under the sea and that houses Finland’s longest escalator 76,2 meters.

Civil war exhibition
Civil war exhibition
By J-P Kärnä [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
Inside the Futuro house

Back in Helsinki, we decided to stop by a rooftop terrace at Restaurant Loiste for a refreshing drink. Unbelievably this was our first time for terrace drinks this summer, somehow there just hasn’t been the opportunity until now. Then we took the train to Kauniainen where we had an early dinner at Moms. This is now our closest bar/restaurant where we had lunch once but never before tried the a la carte menu. I had Ceasar salad with crayfish and hubby had a turkey sandwich with grilled turkey, focaccia, chili mayonnaise, mozzarella and rocket pesto. The food was really tasty and made with high-quality ingredients. We will definitely go back here for dinner.

View from Loiste rooftop terrace

Poroholma & Kylmäpihlaja – Rauma part 2

Our second day in Rauma started with a short drive to Poroholma camping as that is where the boat to Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse leaves. Poroholma is located on the bay of Otanlahti and offers a camping ground, caravan pitches and cabins. There are several restaurants, one of which is housed in a lovely old lace villa from the 19th century, on the camping ground and a tall ship harbor. As we wanted to make sure we got there on time we were actually quite early so we walked around the grounds for a while and I snapped some pictures.

The boat to Kylmäpihlaja is operated by Rauman Saaristokuljetus and depending on the day there are two to eight trips made per day. The connection is offered from early June to late August. The trip to Kylmäpihlaja takes around 50 minutes and the boat makes a stop at Kuuskajaskari on the way. Kuuskajaskari is a former military fortress island that now serves as a tourist attraction. The boat ride offers nice views and at least for someone like me who loves the sea it was very relaxing.

The Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse was completed in 1953 and it was the last manned lighthouse built in Finland, it also acted as a pilot station. These days the lighthouse is a tourist attraction and houses a hotel with 13 rooms and a 30-seat restaurant. The island also has a beach café, a souvenir shop, two saunas, an outdoor hot tub and a guest boat dock. The lighthouse is built of concrete and bricks. The tower of the lighthouse is 36 meters above the sea level and there and 12 storeys and 104 steps to the top of the lighthouse. The tower and two-storey wing offered housing for 12 pilots, eight cutter attendants and two lighthouse keepers. The light and radio equipment of the lighthouse, as well as the nautofono were powered with large diesel generators. The nautofono’s sound would carry 50 kilometers and the 1.26 million million cd light would carry 27 nautical miles but the range of the light was dropped to 15 nautical miles in connection with a renovation in 1988 and the nautofono has not been used in years. The observation deck near the top of the lighthouse offered magnificent views.

 

The island is quite rugged.