I like to eat and drink well. Those are almost my only vices.
For Satu’s birthday we visited A21 Dining, which should combine both of those vices quite well together.
A21 is highly recommended drink bar at Helsinki and A21 dining — as you might guess it — is their dining restaurant, which continues their drink concepts to the dinner world. The place used to be called K-17 because of it’s address, but they renamed it and honed the concept a bit. This way they get the brand equity — though the previous name was funnier as the naming was consistent. A21 was located on Annankatu 21 and K-17 on Kalevankatu 17.
Whatever the name, it is definitely worthwhile your visit.
Dining room is minimal and stylish.
As an appetizer we ordered champagne drink – as the served champagne was Piper-Heidsieck and we do drink it this year quite regularly, where as champagne drinks we get to try quite seldom.
The first part of the drink was a birch ’granite’, which was somehow processes and frozen birch extract and other ingredients in solid form.
As champagne was poured over it, the granite started gradually melt into champagne and add new flavors into the drink.
Sooner or later it was totally dissolved into the drink.
See also my totally awesome cufflinks.
For the food and experience A21 Dining offers themed menus, which take diners to a journey around different tastes which get their inspiration from somewhere. This time the theme was ’Above the Arctic Circle’ and we had reserved the Theme path for both of us. For drinks we opted to try both the wine- and the cocktail menu — to see how they would complement and change the taste of the food.
As with many restaurants, the kitschen sent their greetings — though this time it came from the bar, not from the kitchen. A small molecular cocktail was interesting – and definitely something that made me remember our last visit to the place, when it was K-17.
First course theme: Ruska – beauty of the fall
Lappish cheese, root vegetables, cloudberry vinaigrette and bolete mayonnaisse.
Ruska cloudberry drink with – if I remember correctly – lingonberry or cranberry. On top of it had among other pepper and other ingredients.
Wine for the first two courses was Julicher riesling.
This wine was familiar already for us, as we had tasted it at Grotesk.
I am normally not that much of a fan of root vegetables, but on this dish they were prepared into something delicious and crunchy. I wanted to ask what they had done, but forgot.
Second course: Tunturipuro – Pure mountain stream
Sugar-salted icy white fish, fennel snow land, cold oyster & apple broth.
Celery, apple and what not in the drink. Really, really bitter taste – but opened up quite differently with the food.
Dish itself was really interesting mixture of different tastes and textures – but leave you wanting for more, the actual food.
Third course Loimu – A moment in kota
Charred arctic char, salmon roe and Lappish flatbread.
Wine was interesting new taste, which combines a large selection of different grapes into one wine. Not something we would normally drink and nothing spectacular – as it tasted a bit like mild riesling. Not bad though and definitely good selection for the food.
Cocktail was a beer and whisky cocktail with smoke aromatized malt – served in a kuksa.
And the food? Absolutely delicious.
The salad / cuscus looking part next to the fish is actually really interesting combination of all sorts of ingredients: eggs, capris, pickle and whole lot of other things I forgot. On top of it is egg yellow and smoke mayonnaise – or something similar.
Had the dinner stopped here. We would have been happy.
Fourth course revontuli: The dance of northern lights
Reindeer, lingonberry and Lappish potato.
Wine was spanish wine from really desert area, which cause grapes to have thick skins – and also should be visible in strong taste.
I somehow forgot to take picture of my drink, but it looked somewhat same as the last drink and the first drink. Reason for my forgetfulness was the food.
Reindeer was a total jackpot.
Three different parts of reindeer: shank, neck and sirloin steak. Potato and spinach puree.
Served on a lava stone plate.
Absolutely delicious. The reindeer neck was braised for 12 hours, so it was extremely tender.
Fifth course: Jääkarpalo – Jewel of the snow
Warm and full bodied caramel, white chocolate and Nordic cranberries.
Dessert wine was:
The dish in low light before the caramel.
White chocolate, berries and oats visible.
And the drink.
It is cotton candy…
Then added vanilla vodka and cranberry juice and something else.
End result is sweet and tasty drink.
The dish — or actually the berries — were a bit too bitter to my taste, but it was still extremely good as long as you balanced the bitterness with chocolate or caramel.
All and all extremely well rounded dinner with terrific tastes and experiences, well worth the visit, time and money.
In few weeks the menu will change, so there might not be much time to experience this same menu.