Restaurant Ask Helsinki's Best Dining Experience

It was in Stockholm that I first met Filip and Linda Langhoff – the owners of Ravintola Ask, which is the proper Finish name of the place. To be precise, it was after the launch party of the new Nordic Cities Michelin guide. Somehow I ended up at one-Michelin-star restaurant Volt with Arve from Noma, Esben from Maaemo and his girl, Rasmus and Sasu from the Helsinki restaurant Chef & Sommelier which I will write about next.

Restaurant Ask ravintola Helsinki FinlandAfter Volt we took a taxi to the late night chef’s hangout Babette in Roslagsgatan. I was talking to Sasu most of the night. He is such a humble and nice guy, and in addition to being a chef and restaurateur, he is also a proper foodie who travels and gets inspiration all over the world. After some time we were joined by Filip and Linda from Ask, and I was struck by their similar characteristics to Sasu. So humble and nice, and easy to get to know. That night we decided there was no excuse, I had to get to Helsinki for the first time in my life.

The menu looks simple enough, but hides a proper show of a meal...
The menu looks simple enough, but hides a proper show of a meal…
Bubbles? Yes, please, don't mind if I do
Bubbles? Yes, please, don’t mind if I do

This was all the way back in June when I was writing at Two Foodies Eating. You can read Andrea’s take on the night here. We had booked Ask the first night, just a few hours after we landed at the airport. I did not know where my expectations should be, neither for this place nor for Chef & Sommelier the following night. All I knew was that they had one Michelin star each, and they both did New Nordic cuisine with a focus on organic, local produce and foraging.

We got some gluten free snacks to start with. Buckwheat chips and rice crackers with an elderflower yogurt
We got some gluten free snacks to start with. Buckwheat chips and rice crackers with an elderflower yogurt
The amuse-bouche. Pike perch stock flavored with blackcurrant leafs
The amuse-bouche. Pike perch stock flavored with blackcurrant leafs

We were celebrating Andrea’s birthday, so there was never a doubt about having the full menu with the complete wine pairings. I love when restaurants have a simple menu, but keep surprising you with a lot of small snacks and extra dishes. That is exactly what Ask did, to a great extent. So many interesting ingredients and new flavors were placed in front of us, we were just in awe! On top of that, they were exemplary at providing gluten-free options to Andrea in every serving.

A variety of snacks before the actual menu. Last year's salsify with a juniper berry in the front. Lamb tartar on a sorrel with mustard seeds on the right. Flat breads with goat milk cheese on the left. Pak choi with marigold mayo in the back
A variety of snacks before the actual menu. Last year’s salsify with a juniper berry in the front. Lamb tartar on a sorrel with mustard seeds on the right. Flat breads with goat milk cheese on the left. Pak choi with marigold mayo in the back
Radish, yogurt and whey
Radish, yogurt and whey
The bread serving. Luckily for Andrea they used very little gluten in general here, and they were able to adapt the few exceptions like bread
The bread serving. Luckily for Andrea they used very little gluten in general here, and they were able to adapt the few exceptions like bread

By the time the actual menu servings started I was already in love with this place. In addition to their impressive food, they have a great atmosphere in the beautifully decorated restaurant, wonderful waiters and sommeliers who pay close attention to you, and a great eye for detail in stuff like the ceramics work they use. I would say that almost every dish deserved its place in the meal, and the wines they served were all of the excellent quality and good matches.

Sonnentropfen Wachenheimer Riesling. A well balanced dry wine with nice acidity and fruit. Just up my alley
Sonnentropfen Wachenheimer Riesling. A well balanced dry wine with nice acidity and fruit. Just up my alley
"Goat's milk & herbs". Fresh goat cheese with wild herbs, rye crackers and a vinaigrette made of the whey from the cheese production.
“Goat’s milk & herbs”. Fresh goat cheese with wild herbs, rye crackers and a vinaigrette made of the whey from the cheese production.

Filip and Linda remembered our short meeting back in Stockholm, and came out to speak with us during the night. Filip used to be the head chef for many years at restaurant Feinschmecker in Oslo. Linda has worked as a sommelier for many years, also in Oslo for some time, and she is responsible for matching the wines to Filip’s cooking. Together they make a great team! Ask is a must-visit when in Helsinki. I can’t wait to go back.

Malvira 2007. Malvira means "the wrong place", and the wine is named thus because the vineyard of the two brothers who make it is located on the North side of the hill, while the south side is where everyone wants to be. A complex and aromatic wine, with a hint of green fruits and citrus. Nice sweetness too. I was in wine heaven.
Malvira 2007. Malvira means “the wrong place”, and the wine is named thus because the vineyard of the two brothers who make it is located on the North side of the hill, while the south side is where everyone wants to be. A complex and aromatic wine, with a hint of green fruits and citrus. Nice sweetness too. I was in wine heaven.
"Vegetables & yeast". Carrots, turnip, yeast sauce, rapeseed oil and crispy chicken skin.
“Vegetables & yeast”. Carrots, turnip, yeast sauce, rapeseed oil and crispy chicken skin.
Aphros Ten 2012. A Vinho Verde from Portugal. Quite musky and perfumy. Acidic and semi-sweet.
Aphros Ten 2012. A Vinho Verde from Portugal. Quite musky and perfumy. Acidic and semi-sweet.
"Perch & greens". Perch and nasturtium with a miso sauce on the roasted bones of the perch.
“Perch & greens”. Perch and nasturtium with a miso sauce on the roasted bones of the perch.
Having the final touches put on your plate at the table really increases the dining experience
Having the final touches put on your plate at the table really increases the dining experience
"Das ohr" Kerner 2013. It means "the ear". Our sommelier said that drinking this was "like licking a limestone". Acidic with a nice minerality to it.
“Das ohr” Kerner 2013. It means “the ear”. Our sommelier said that drinking this was “like licking a limestone”. Acidic with a nice minerality to it.
Owner and chef Filip Langhoff at our table, explaining the philosophy of the restaurant
Owner and chef Filip Langhoff at our table, explaining the philosophy of the restaurant
"Egg & cucumber". My favorite dish of the night. Poached egg, pickled cucumber, a fat acidic Hollandaise sauce and topped with dried brioche and wild flowers
“Egg & cucumber”. My favorite dish of the night. Poached egg, pickled cucumber, a fat acidic Hollandaise sauce and topped with dried brioche and wild flowers
A nice contrast in texture from the dried brioche, which sadly lacked on the gluten-free version. Pickled cucumbers gave the acidity needed to break the fatty egg and Hollandaise flavors
A nice contrast in texture from the dried brioche, which sadly lacked on the gluten-free version. Pickled cucumbers gave the acidity needed to break the fatty egg and Hollandaise flavors
Dr. Burklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling 2012. A very classic Riesling. Minerality, green fruits, nice acidity and sweetness.
Dr. Burklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling 2012. A very classic Riesling. Minerality, green fruits, nice acidity and sweetness.
"Pike perch and ramsons". Smoked pike perch, a sauce flavored with ramson oil, spring onions and ramson flowers. Simple and very tasty
“Pike perch and ramsons”. Smoked pike perch, a sauce flavored with ramson oil, spring onions and ramson flowers. Simple and very tasty
Heinrich. St. Laurent 2011 from Burgenland. the first red wine, with nice red forest berries at the back
Heinrich. St. Laurent 2011 from Burgenland. the first red wine, with nice red forest berries at the back
Our wonderful sommelier of the evening
Our wonderful sommelier of the evening
"Lamb & onion". Slow cooked lamb , grilled onion, a sauce on lamb's broth and onion puree, with oregano, mint and dead nettle.
“Lamb & onion”. Slow cooked lamb , grilled onion, a sauce on lamb’s broth and onion puree, with oregano, mint and dead nettle.
Tannat by Fabien Jouves to go with our cheese serving. Apparently the most tannin rich wine in the world. Also called "vino nero", meaning "black wine". Very sweet and at the same time tanning rich (obviously), which is a remarkable combination unlike anything I've tried of dessert wines.
Tannat by Fabien Jouves to go with our cheese serving. Apparently the most tannin rich wine in the world. Also called “vino nero”, meaning “black wine”. Very sweet and at the same time tanning rich (obviously), which is a remarkable combination unlike anything I’ve tried of dessert wines.
Half-a-year-old Finish cow's milk blue cheese. Served with pickled beets (since last autumn) and caramelized pickled elderberries
Half-a-year-old Finish cow’s milk blue cheese. Served with pickled beets (since last autumn) and caramelized pickled elderberries
A refreshing pre-dessert. Wood sorrel granita with fresh wood sorrel
A refreshing pre-dessert. Wood sorrel granita with fresh wood sorrel
Domaine Ostertag, Fronholz Vendanges Tardives de Gewurztraminer 2011, from Alsace, France. A classic dessert wine where the grapes have been affected by "noble rot". Aromatic, sweet, fruity, but easy to drink
Domaine Ostertag, Fronholz Vendanges Tardives de Gewurztraminer 2011, from Alsace, France. A classic dessert wine where the grapes have been affected by “noble rot”. Aromatic, sweet, fruity, but easy to drink
"Spruce & rhubarb". Spruce ice cream, fresh spruce and rhubarb, buckwheat and a sauce on rhubarb
“Spruce & rhubarb”. Spruce ice cream, fresh spruce and rhubarb, buckwheat and a sauce on rhubarb
Many restaurants use special ceramics these days, but not all manage to lift the presentation of a dish to a new level, like Ask does with their ceramics
Many restaurants use special ceramics these days, but not all manage to lift the presentation of a dish to a new level, like Ask does with their ceramics
Lorenz Auslese Riesling. A less sweet wine, with a more fresh mouthfeel
Lorenz Auslese Riesling. A less sweet wine, with a more fresh mouthfeel
"Flowers & milk". A lemon cream, ice cream of last year's apples, with pieces of a broken tart and wild flowers
“Flowers & milk”. A lemon cream, ice cream of last year’s apples, with pieces of a broken tart and wild flowers
The gluten free version with buckwheat in stead of tart
The gluten free version with buckwheat in stead of tart
Panama coffee brewed in a Chemex, using the same copper Hario Buono drip kettle that I have at home
Panama coffee brewed in a Chemex, using the same copper Hario Buono drip kettle that I have at home
Various petit fours. The strawberries from last year on a lemon leaf to the right was an explosion of flavor! Spruce from last year in a caramelized spruce jam in the spoon in the front and back. This was one of the best flavors I've ever had. A gluten-free muffin with pickled elderberries on the left. The malt cookies on the far left were not so good, but the coffee was great!
Various petit fours. The strawberries from last year on a lemon leaf to the right was an explosion of flavor! Spruce from last year in a caramelized spruce jam in the spoon in the front and back. This was one of the best flavors I’ve ever had. A gluten-free muffin with pickled elderberries on the left. The malt cookies on the far left were not so good, but the coffee was great!

Have you been to Helsinki? Which restaurants did you visit? Please do leave a comment below.

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