Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the Blogger’s Dinner at Olo Garden and Bar For anyone not in the know, Olo is one of the four restaurants in Finland to be awarded a Michelin star in 2017. The Olo Garden & Bar is a more relaxed area for food, wine and cocktails located in the inner courtyard of the Lampa House, Helenankatu. Olo has a great reputation in Helsinki, so I was super excited to attend. Looking at their menu, I was a little nervous that they do not list any vegan options, however if you inform them in advance, the Olo team are more than happy to accommodate your dietary requirements.
On entering Olo Garden, you are first struck by the high glass ceiling and airy feel. After a welcome drink we sat down and the feast began. My menu began with a Hibiscus-Lemon tea, dotted with lemon verbena oil. A small notebook on the table contained pressed dried lemon verbena leaves which I sprinkled over the drink to add an extra citrusy note. The zingy tea acted as a great palette cleanser before we were presented with our first course.
A crisp round of buckwheat toast was accompanied by an incredibly tasty cauliflower puree and almond cream. I was in heaven, the creamy cauliflower topping the perfect partner to the crisp, salted toast. This was quickly followed by a delicious dish of marinated tofu, with plump cherry tomatoes, a dark balsamic sauce, topped with crisp lettuce and a sprinkle of almonds. Tofu can often be disappointing, but this was beautifully creamy and contrasted well with the juicy tomatoes and acidic dressing. The food was accompanied by a light and fragrant Sylvaner Wine from Alsace.
Next was one of my personal highlights of the night. A chanterelle-buckwheat porridge with a parsley emulsion. The buckwheat was cooked to perfection and was spotted with fried and pickled chanterelles which popped with flavour. As if this wasn’t enough the dish was accompanied by a side of some of the best roast cauliflower I have ever tasted. As you can see from my picture, the dish was bursting with colour and was almost too pretty to eat. My buckwheat was served with a glass of fruity German Pinot Noir which worked well with the earthy mushrooms.
We were then led to the Olo Creative Kitchen for dessert, cocktails and wine. The creative kitchen is a small intimate area with its own kitchen. Here you can see your food prepared at first hand and even pick up some tips. I was lucky enough to have head chef, Kim Mustonen prepare my dessert right before my eyes. As he decorated the plate with marinated strawberries, liquorice puree, a disc of strawberry juice and frozen sorrel granita, he explained how he loved the challenge of preparing vegan food. I have to say he rose to the challenge! I am usually not a fan of liquorice, but it was simply sublime with the juicy strawberries and sweet sour iced explosion of sorrel granita. As if this wasn’t enough I was handed a glass of excellent Hungarian dessert wine by the informed head sommelier Angel Layos. An espresso Martini later and a couple of glasses of Spanish Red and I was a very happy blogger.
I have to say it was a wonderful evening, not only was it nice to meet some new friends and familiar faces, but the whole Olo team made me feel so welcome. I have to thank them again for creating my own personal vegan menu and a special thank you to Katja Henttunen, Anssi Riihimäki, Kim Mustonen, Paula Lundell, and Timea Slavic for taking the time out to chat with me and listen to my vegan related views! And of course my fellow Brit and Liverpudlian, Melanie.
I would definitely recommend Olo Garden for a relaxed night of gastronomy and can’t wait to return soon.