This is a place which has some 'balls'!
Excuse the easy joke but indeed, you need nerve to open a meatball restaurant in the heart of Helsinki city centre, and with such a concept.
The idea is simple: a meatball restaurant in the New York -style. That doesn't mean any ugly fluffy and terrible factory meatballs you can find worldwide in the blue and yellow Swedish furniture chain. No, here we are talking about true meatball mades with your soul. A typical Finnish dish declined in many relevant variants, and made with love and with local a good product.
But before going further we need to admit that this review is a bit different than all other reviews ever written here. We have been contacted by the restaurant Suola itself to take part of a press tasting dinner, along with professional journalists from well established newspapers and a couple of other amateur bloggers like us. Of course we need to thank Suola for giving us this opportunity, but please believe we won't be kind with them only for that favor. We will continue to tell exactly how we felt about the place and the food.
Let's first talk about the place: Suola in located in Helsinki City Centre at the Crossroad of Annankatu and Iso Roba, so right there where was the legendary last chance club Lost and Found. The team has done a great work in renovating the place, it's hard to remember how it was before. The tables, chairs and coaches were selected in just enough retro way, the main colours of the place being white, black and red. Try to get a table in the back of the restaurant, where there is a nice street art alike painting on the wall waiting for you under the coupole and its chandelier.
Unfortunately we were not there on a regular busy day, so we cannot tell much about the real atmosphere of the place. From how the restaurant looks and how the friendly and polite staff was doing their work, we felt warmly welcomed in.
Let's finally talk about the food. We had a special opportunity to taste almost the whole menu. We will try to summarize and not be too boring in our listing.
First, the Sliders: When meatballs meet Burgers:
The Classic, the basic beefball with red wine sauce, ruccola, dried tomatoes...and served on a home made ciabatta. Honestly, this one was one of my favorite! I am not myself a meatball person, but no offense to all the home made meatballs I ate in the past, the texture and the taste in Suola's classic meatball is just perfect. It is not too hard, not too soft, not too dry, not too moist and really tasty. You can really feel that all is made in the kitchen from scratch and with good products.
The Tokyo slider might be dedicated to the sashimi lovers, with its salmon just slightly cooked, but still raw inside, served with leek, vinaigrette and again this nice ciabatta. This was one of Mademoiselle's favourite.
The Beets, is a very good vegetarian option, or a kind of pre-dessert option. The mix of beetroot and blue cheese is as usual perfectly matching. The beetroot is cooked just as it needs to make you feel its sweetness. Silver medal.
The Veggie sliders has a strong pumpkin base. It's for sure tasty, but I have to admit, it shares the smae problem as in many falafel: it is too dry.
The Ugly Duckling, a nice surprise of duckliver-beefball slider in a truffel mayonnaise. On this one I have to say that the meatball itself and the mayonaise are just perfect, but (yes it is not perfect) it's bread felt a bit too dry or compact. Or perhaps this was the feeling after eating already 4 balls before this one.
And as an extra the chef added on our tasting plate, one of their so called 'heroes' the USA slider made out of pork, homemade coleslaw and aioli. A very good choice as well.
You may find this post already long and it's not even over yet. I told you we tasted almost the whole menu. The staff offered us the possibility to taste small portion of the main courses, so here we go again:
The Classic, in the main is the essence of Finnish home food, close your eyes put some Finnish iskelmä music and you are like at some Finnish grandma place. Definitely a dish I would recommend to foreigner asking a typical Finnish meal.
The Godfather, the name is enough. It's like the dish prepared in Martin Scorcese's 'Goodfellas'.
PataPata, your beefballs are served with a chorizo-bean ragout. It's honestly delicious, but I was expecting something a bit more spicy.
The Hulk, which could be called their incredible vegetarian option: Veggieballs, paksoi, spinach, leek, cashew nuts in a coriander sauce. Very tasty, and contrary to the the vegetarian slider, not too dry at all but just the good texture. Though, it is lacking some taste.
And you think this was enough?
No, one more ball to come, the sweet one: The Salty Chocolate Ball, a marvelous soft white chocolate ball in a dark salty chocolate shell. It's just a bit, not a huge dessert but after this feast the perfect end for a great dinner. I'm almost thinking of making this 3€ chocolate ball as my afternoon snack on a shopping day afternoon.
As you could read Suola has a lot to offer, but they are still clear of that. We didn't even try all of their options. The price list is definitely affordable, for example a plate of 5 sliders will cost you 16€, which is a bargain for this location.
Another interesting details was the wine list which only include good european wine for very reasonable price if you think about the South African piquette served for the same price in many bars around.
So, at last we will simply recommend Suola, even more since its staff is very young and very enthusiastic about making this place a classic in Helsinki. Again these guys have 'balls' as they keep the kitchen open from Monday to Saturday until 2pm. It's wonderful to have a place where you can eat after ten o'clock in Helsinki!