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Neighborhood, casual gourmet: Helsinki, Finland's Juuri

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Juuri, located at Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00130 in Helsinki, is a little bit off the beaten track. Though you can hear a couple voices here and there speaking , English, it’s definitely a neighborhood favorite – not touristy at all. It’s a smaller restaurant, cozy with high ceilings. There are carriage house-type windows. Foreign cabaret music plays in the background. Dress is dressy-casual. They use organic, local ingredients. I was very glad to be hosted to experience it!

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Juuri’s unusual for a European restaurant in that it actually has a house cocktail, not just an aperitif. The super-refreshing drink has an American bent, too: Lakka-omena sour, with Kukki cloudberry liqueur, Maker’s Mark, cloudberry-apple juice, lime juice, egg whites, garnished with red apple. It’s fun in the way people usually think of rum drinks.

The amuse bouche was salmon tartare with carrot puree’, dill, malted bread crumbs. It was creamy, rich with a tiny bit of crunch and onion.

Bread service was house made foccaia, Finnish rye bread, Scandinavian crisp bread, artisanal small batch butter from a farm in eastern Finland with crunchy sea salt on top.

Juuri also has a “house shot”! Well, ok! Let the fun begin. It’s gin infused with dill: good with savories, it’s served chilled.

The first starter course was duck tongue and apple chip, lingonberry sauce. The meat was fatty, soft, with a salt hit. It’s not gamy and there was good texture contrast.

Then came a potato casserole: a little morsel packed with flavor! There was lamb and horseradish bitter, so tasty. It was very much like Greek pastitio and had a beet puree’ garnish.

The next course was “versace” fish, like a sardine. Maybe it was a sardine! It had a very strong taste.

The restaurant butchers whole beef cows in-house. This week, they served slow-cooked shoulder: fork tender. Also, there was sliced, seared sirloin with braised organic cabbage and barley, along with carrot puree’. It was a hearty, flavorful dish. Fresh herbs really brightened it.

The main dessert was caramel chocolate cake with damson plum sorbet: It was like a chic caramel rye bread with marshmallow cream garnish, the sorbet adding contrasting tartness.

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