Return to Eevert

My birthday is in late May and this year we had birthday dinner at Eevert. This is the same restaurant we tried out in early December last year soon after it had first opened. I picked Eevert for my b-day dinner because I really liked their spring menu. I must say I am a bit of a spring/early summer child also when it comes to food, I love the tastes of Finnish spring/summer much more than those of autumn/winter. My birthday was on a Tuesday so the restaurant was empty when we arrived and I was wondering if we’d get to keep the whole place to ourselves but soon another party arrived. Unfortunately no more guests arrived that evening, which was a stark reminder of how poorly restaurants tend to fair early in the week.

Heading to my b-day dinner

We started with a nice gin-based cocktail and then had Eevert’s tasting menu (8 courses) with wine package. The menu consisted of three starters, two main courses and three desserts (well actually the sixth course was more of a palate cleanser than a dessert). The courses were: Salmon & Cucumber, Asparagus & Strawberry, Deer & Wood Sorrel, Perch & Nettle, Hereford & Tarragon, Napue & Citrus, Finnish Cheese and Rhubarb & Meringue.

Slightly cooked salmon with a cucumber jus
Asparagus three ways with a strawberry & champagne reduction
Melt-in-your-mouth deer tartar
Perch with nettle sauce, asparagus and carrots
Hereford with tarragon bearnaise & carrot puree
Napue sorbet
Goat’s cheese cheddar with apple compote
Rhubarb dessert with meringue and parfait

All courses were super tasty and hubby even liked the dessert despite him not being a fan of rhubarb. The only course that seemed to have a bit too much going on on the plate was the beef main. One sauce would have been enough. The menu had also been nicely designed in that even though you were full after finishing you weren’t stuffed so the individual portions were not too big (well maybe except for the beef, but as I did not eat all of my meat it felt fine). As on the first visit, the dessert was served by the chef, which I always find to be a nice touch. I am convinced we will return to Eevert again sooner or later.

Bday at Haikko Manor

Hubby had his birthday in early October and I decided to pamper him with an overnight stay and dinner at Haikko Manor & Spa. This is one of those places where we return regularly for relaxing minibreaks away from the daily grind. The manor hotel was opened in 1966 and expanded in 1974 when the spa hotel was completed and again in 1983 when the congress center was opened. Today the hotel has over 200 rooms of which 24 are in the manor house and 184 in the spa hotel.

The first historical recording of Haikko manor is from 1362 and the manor was owned by the Stenbock family until 1871 when it was sold to General Sebastian von Etter, whose family owned the manor for nearly 100 years. The manor has housed many famous guests including the grand duke Kirill Vladimirovitš Romanov and his family, painter Albert Edelfelt, and Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. The current manor house was designed in 1913 when the previous manor house had burned down. Due to the war, the construction was not completed until 1932.

The Mano House, picture from
Inside the spa, picture from

We arrived at Haikko on Saturday afternoon and spent time in the spa, after which we withdrew to our room to have some champagne and relax before dinner. Dinner was a four course Menu Nordic  designed by Chef Pekka Terävä, who is the co-owner of the one Michelin star restaurant Olo in Helsinki. The dinner was served at the Manor restaurant, in the main dining room, which was originally planned as a chapel. The restaurant has an historic ambiance of the Russian imperial era.

Manor House entrance hall, picture from
Dining room, picture from

We started with an aperitif, I had a G&T and hubby had a Bloody Mary. Then we were served Cep soup with deep fried kale. The soup was lovely with good-sized chunks of mushroom. Next came a Tartar of lamb from Åland served with pickled chanterelles. The meat simply melted in the mouth and the pickled mushrooms provided a nice vinegary contrast to the meat. The main was fish: Roasted trout with horn chanterelle consommé. The fish was very well seasoned and cooked. Dessert was Apple porridge with Kyyttö’s milk ice cream, which was a nice refreshing dessert. With dinner we enjoyed a nice bottle of white wine. The menu was a well though through whole that was very tasty. To round off the meal that left us stuffed we headed to the Manor Club for a night cap. The surroundings were a bit shocking but the whiskey went down well.

In the morning we went for a morning swim, had breakfast in the Romanov Dining Room which is part of the Manor restaurant, and then we headed back home. This was a great way to spend a weekend relaxing in historic surroundings with a cozy spa and delicious dinner. And the best part is it’s only a thirty minute drive from home. We will probably be back again in a few years.

Food glorious food in Antwerp

Despite the conference schedule being quite exhausting I did have time to enjoy some nice meals in Antwerp. I decided to kick-off the week with a true Belgian classic – Frites (also known as fries). The Belgians cook their fries twice, which makes them extra-crispy. As I was quite hungry and not in the mood to go roaming around to find the best Frites vendor I simply opted for a tourist trap near my hotel called Frituur No. 1. I had the special fries with mayonnaise, ketchup and onions. Not the best frites I’ve had but definitely edible.

On Tuesday, we had a nice dinner with the conference attendees at a restaurant called Huis De Colvenier. The restaurant itself was very interesting, located in an old townhouse with several different rooms for dining, a wine cellar, a kitchen you get to walk through to get to the dining area, etc. We started in the wine cellar with a Tartare of Fresh tuna with a tomato vinaigrette and green herbs and a glass of sparkling wine. Then we headed upstairs to the dining room for a three course meal. The starter was a Trio of North sea fish with vegetables, butter sauce and grey shrimp accompanied by a glass of white wine. For the main we had Duck breast with a sweet sauce, vegetables, and potato garnish, I am usually not a big fan of duck but this tasted nice. The duck was served with a glass of red wine but I personally opted to stick with the white wine which also worked well with the duck. For dessert we got Panna cotta with Madagascar Vanilla served with red fruits and ice cream made of almond cream. To polish it all off they served us coffee or tea with an assortment of cakes (I had to skip the cakes as I was already stuffed). The dinner was absolutely delicious, the service was friendly and with a price of EUR 60 including the drinks I would even call it a bargain.

On Wednesday, I met up with my niece and we headed to Otomat for pizza. My niece is a vegan so I had her pick a place that had some good options for her. We got to the pizzeria around 7 pm, which was a good thing as later the place was packed and people had to wait for a table. My niece had the Las Vega pizza, which had a vegetable curry sauce, baby leaf spinach, garlic and mushrooms, topped with a homemade extra spicy chili pasta and a foam made from soya yogurt. I went for a vegetarian option called Zorba the Freak, which was a white pizza with feta cheese, tomatoes, eggplant and mint. We both had beer with our pizzas. The pizzas were really good even though the spicy one was very spicy and the service was nice even though the waiter spoke a mixture of English and Dutch.

On Thursday, I found something really interesting, a place called De Peerdestal (I believe it means the horse stable) that serves horse meat. I love horse meat but it is rarely available. As the place offered its own gin I simply had to start with a G&T. It was the first time I had G&T served with a cinnamon stick but I liked it. I ate a 225 g Horse filet ‘Rossini’ with Béarnaise sauce. It was served with vegetables and fries. The meat was absolutely lovely and cooked to perfection. I naturally had a glass of red with the meat and the recommended wine worked really well.

 On Friday, it was time for another Belgian staple – mussels. I chose a place called Grand Café De Rooden Hoed (the red hat) which was also near the Grote Markt. This time I decided to kick-off my meal with a glass of champagne to celebrate the end of the conference week. Among the various mussels choices I picked Mussels Pastis with fennel, leek, white wine, pastis, onion & cream. These were naturally served with fries and mayonnaise. I barely touched the fries as the smaller serving of mussels was 1.2 kg and I could not even finish that. I washed down the mussels with a beer. The mussels were very nice and I loved the anisey flavor of the fennel and pastis. All in all, the food in Antwerp was really good and I can’t wait to go back one day and sample some more of the local delicacies.