Another restaurant review, in Finland.
Vanhankaupungin Ravintola is located in the cute old city of Kokkola, named Neristan, which consists of several old wooden houses. The place is really beautiful, even though it is hardly developed as a touristic attraction. You will find in this restaurant the classical Finnish fish and meat, in a mix of French and Finnish style. The result is a very convincing cuisine, especially since the quality of the products is perfect. I have been visiting this place many times and I noticed that a great improvement with the last seasonal change of menu: the level of the cooking has risen. The preparation are more elaborated, the presentation is better and the meals are pleasant to eat from the first bite to the last one. With these changes, the restaurant reach the level of the very best. However I must say that it sometimes underperforms…
Menu changes every 4 or 6 month, pricing is fair considering the portion: 12€ the starter, 20 to 30€ for the main dish and 11,5€ for the desert. Menu is at 40€. The wine list is short but regularly expanded and improved. Pricing is also very reasonable, from 30 to 150€. Ten wine or so are available by the glass. And that’s it for the facts. Let’s go a bit deeper…
The restaurant is of average size, installed in one of the old houses of Neristan. This gives the very pleasant impression to stay at somebody’s dinning room. Atmosphere is peaceful and relaxed. Service is clean and simple. No particular defect is to be mentioned. Eating there a 3 course meal will be done in less than a couple of hour. The wine service is good unless you have special request (like decanting), I would enjoy more suited glasses for high-end Champagne and a little less thick ones in general but this is a little detail.
Food is very good, nowadays even better than just a few months ago. The style has taken an inventive curve that is for the best, and takes for example the shape of a saffron ice cream with a very fine salt-marinated salmon. Also, the balance of flavor achieved by the Chef has greatly improved. The food is there typically Finnish considering the ingredients: you will find salmon, zander (pike-perch) or reindeer; with inspiration from French technique or aromatic balance like confit or seared meat. The menu itself changes often and offers around fifteen different meals. Right now, I would advise to taste the Jääkellarin lohta, the Confit and the Poronfileetä Wellington.
As I said, the winelist is very good. Wines are picked according to the menu and suggested with each meal. The list also changes during the year. You will find there only very carefully selected products, most of them being exclusive wines. At the moment, the greatest surprise comes from the Jacquesson 1997 a rare champagne which you can enjoy twice cheaper than in any other places I have visited, especially in France. Martin Codax, Schloss Goebelsbourg, Albrecht, Glaetzer, Dom Pérignon are among the names you will find there.
My appreciation: Highly recommended
- Atmosphere: Formal –, relaxed, quiet, classical
- Cuisine: Classical, local inspiration, good presentation, generous
- Wine: Very good selection, around 30 wines, price range: 30-80€,
- Service: Standard +, friendly, wine service is ok (no decanter).
- Internet site: HERE (excellent and comprehensive)
- Reservation is better but in general not necessary
- Last visit in May 2012