Hella ja Huone: Putting a new spin on classic fine dining
By Ndéla Faye | Photos: Aura Saarikoski
H ella ja Huone – meaning stove and room – has been a go-to place for fine dining in Tampere, Finland, for over 20 years. When chef Ilmari Saarikoski and sommelier Humberto Pulido Gracés took over the place from the previous owners, they wanted to carry on its long legacy, but bring in fresh, new twists to classic tastes.
Just glancing at the menu, it becomes immediately apparent that Hella ja Huone is all about classic European and Scandinavian dishes – with exciting, sometimes surprising twists. Lièvre à la Royale – a French classic – has been transformed into an interpretation with rabbit from the nearby farm, served with duck pâté from the local market, alongside truffle-potato purée. Meanwhile, the classic, Spanish nougat confection, turrón, gets a new spin at Hella ja Huone, where it is made using pine nuts and served with chanterelle ice cream. “Our techniques and tastes are inspired by flavours from around Europe. We bring the classic dishes into our kitchen, and then work out how to give them our own, Finnish twist,” Saarikoski explains.
The food is innovative and beautifully presented, and the flavours are unique. The restaurant’s tasting menu offers a selection of six or nine dishes, served with a specially designed drinks package. Wines are also an essential part of the Hella ja Huone dining experience. The restaurant’s wine cellar boasts quality wines from around the world to further entice serious wine connoisseurs. All wines have been carefully chosen to complement each dish. “We constantly change the menu to suit the wine offering, and vice versa. We have been known to even change the ingredients used in a dish if they do not perfectly fit with a particular wine we’ve had our heart set on,” Saarikoski says.
On Fridays and Saturdays, alongside the à la carte menu, the restaurant also serves apéro, consisting of canapés and refreshing aperitive drinks. From oysters to meat cuts – cured and freshly prepared in-house – to cheese boards or blinis, this dining experience is bound to tickle the senses. The delicious flavours, made up of high-quality, fresh ingredients, make this dining experience one-of-a-kind.
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