|Tres Bones offers a restaurant, bar and club, all housed under the same roof in Helsinki.|
A feast of flavour descends on Punavuori.
Somewhere in the upper echelons of Punavuori, high up on Annankatu there is an ambitious and delicious piece of history being remade. Tres Bones, a restaurant, bar and club founded by a trio of friends with a passion for kooky tunes, great fusion food and cocktails is quietly remaking history. Resting on the ashes of the famous clubbing landmark Lost and Found, Tres Bones is no hack job, but an ambitious undertaking with attention to detail that lets you know immediately that this is a restaurant that knows what its doing.
From the scuffed tiled floors to the mismatched design chairs, to the open kitchen where the bread (including gluten-free options) is baked in house daily plus the eclectic mix of tunes played designed to keep you guessing (‘90s R&B and trip-hop anybody?), everything at Tres Bones has the taste of its founders stamped on it. Even the impossibly young yet knowledgeable wait staff are kitted out in Helsinki-cool Makia-sponsored flannel shirts and trainers. This is not your corner kebab shop kids.
Tres Bones was founded by a trio of friends, Tapio, Patrick and Heppu who had always dreamed about having their own place that would be a good combination of their passions for great music, eclectic food and a club – a must with such a historical party mantle coming with the place.
The evening starts with a recommendation from the bar, a Ginger martini. Sharp with a hit of sweetness, I’m told that one of the finishing touches was a whipped egg white, giving it a creamy mouth feel plus a romantic foamy cap. As I sip I ask restaurant manager Tiina Hettula why this restaurant, why here and why now and she sums it up thus: “Our concept for the place is simple – eat, drink, party.” And simplicity is good. The restaurant opened its doors a short three months ago, but even on a Wednesday evening there is a quiet buzz and good-sized crowd filling the main dining area.
The starters come thick and fast – a seafood platter first featuring fat ribbons of salmon in teriyaki sauce, octopus, king prawns, herring crowned with a feathery green frond of baby carrot and a breaded slice of pike perch atop a tangle of peppery cabbage ‘slaw. All of it is excellent, but the octopus was a clear standout – tender and melting and almost Carpaccio-like. Another starter is a perfectly crisp breaded nugget of sweetbread, a bold choice from the kitchen to feature offal, but cooked with a deftness and paired with a “seaweed tapanede and shiso and broccoli.” The sweetbread itself is gorgeously rich and goes perfectly with its crisp breaded exterior. The sourness of the shiso jelly and umami of the seaweed tapanede work well together and the freshness of the barely poached broccoli offer a nice textural difference, which was appreciated. The wine paired with these starters was an excellent pinot gris made by Evelyn Fraser of New Zealand, touted as “one of the most famous wine makers in the world”. Its sweetness and creamy notes balance the richness of the seafood and sets the tone for our mains to come.
Tasty in the main
A tasting of some of the main courses is next up: the “Vegetables - Ansi Hellen” and “Lamb pattie”, made with Ahvenanmaan lamb, with a ring of calamari, zucchini salad, lentil mash and bonito aioli, and “Fried file of pike perch”, with mussel liquor jus, celery greens, mushrooms, cabbage and apple. The “Ansi Hellen vegetables” features oven roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, which are rather generously salted and on a bed of masala-spiced potatoes and a buttermilk dressing, as well as wilted spinach leaves. It is tasty and simple.
The lamb pattie has perfect grill marks and is plump and juicy, a good sign the kitchen has not manhandled the proteins to an early death. The bonito aioli and lentil mash are savoury and excellent accompaniments though the calamari feels a little out of place in the dish. Is it there as a cheeky reminder of the seafood influences in the dish? A sartorial garnish? A nod to the ‘70s? Either way, it is eaten thoughtfully. Tasty, whatever the reason was. The pike perch is beautifully cooked, crisp with proteins, but sadly was a touch salty. Perhaps with just a misjudged pinch of such, it does not stand up to the other nice things already sampled. Oh well. The wines paired with the mains are a Rose, which was truly excellent, and a lovely Portugese red, by Filipa Pato – ‘Vino tinto’.
The desserts are an eclectic parsnip ‘cake’ served with orange blossom water ice cream and the very odd sounding cucumber and lychee dessert. The parsnip cake is a spicy and almost Christmassy confection and goes pleasantly with the floral ice cream while the cucumber dessert, which shouldn’t work, does. The fresh astringency of the cucumber plays well with the yogurt and bits of meringue that dot the bowl, and swirls of lychee granite give a sweet crunch to the dish. The dessert comes with a peppery gin - thyme yogurt drink, which was an interesting contrast to the mellowness of the flavours.
Text Tania Nathan, images Kai Kuusisto.