We’ve explored Three Star Frantzén, Two Star restaurants Kadeau Copenhagen and Daniel Berlin, and the Swedish One Stars – SAV, Aloë and Agrikultur. Now let’s zoom in on Finland’s new One Star restaurant – located in the country’s capital – which entered the 2018 Nordic Guide with a Star.
Grön means ‘Green’ in Swedish – which is the country’s second official language – and is an apt name for this tiny, intimate place with a focus on nature. It’s warmly run by two young first-time owners – chef Toni Kostian and manager Lauri Kähkönen – and has already built up a strong local following.
The simple wood-furnished room gives a clue as to the cooking: its shelves are laden with dried, pickled and cured ingredients that Toni preserves in preparation for the long cold winter. He works closely with his team of small-time producers who pick mushrooms, berries and herbs, grow vegetables and catch fish but he also forages himself to discover which produce is currently at its peak. He clearly enjoys using the region’s bounty to its full.
The open kitchen is the focal point of the room and allows the chefs and diners to engage with one another – this is helped along by the fact that the chefs bring the dishes to the table themselves and fully explain them; their pride and enthusiasm really comes across.
Fresh ingredients are cleverly combined with the contents of the shelves to produce dishes with pure, natural flavours and a satisfying earthiness. They are well-balanced and demonstrate a clear understanding of textures and flavours and, satisfyingly, vegetables are given equal billing as meat or fish.
The 4 course set menu is the way to go and lists dishes under headings such as ‘Plant’, ‘Meat’, ‘Fish’, ‘Wild’ or ‘Dairy’ – and optional extra courses can be added; there’s also a 4 course vegan menu available.
It’s not just the food that stands out here though – the tempo of the service is just right, the natural wines are well-chosen and even the hand-roasted coffee is seasonal and sourced from micro-roasters.