Pinella – Turku and food, a timeless romance


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With stories circulating the city, and after a bit of experimentation, the iconic Pinella will once again return to its traditional and elegant style. I requested permission to come and sample the restaurant's menu. Permission granted. I tried my luck, asking if my two most knowledgeable friends in food and wine could join me. Also granted.

We were greeted by Laura Vähätalo, the restaurant manager at Pinella, and Teemu Juhola, the head chef. So what has led to such interest?

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    What is Pinella?

    Serving from the old town area of Turku, Pinella is the oldest restaurant in Finland and a legitimate icon of the city. The oldest part of the classic premises, Puupinella, which first opened in 1848, overlooks the Porthan Park and the Old Great Square. Pinella's other entrance is on the River Aura side, framed by Pinella’s grand colonnade.
    As a venerated venue, Pinella has many stories to tell. The restaurant has welcomed famous figures of Finnish culture, from Topelius to Runeberg. The river side of the building has been a store for fishing nets as well as home to the first ribs restaurant in Turku. Whilst Puupinella has actually been relocated about 100 meters away. Its original location is now the site for the statue of H.G. Porthan.

Classics and experimental

“This wine menu already looks good on paper. The customer should never be underestimated,” says Terhi Karhu, the wine expert of our group, continuing:

“There are many wine enthusiasts nowadays. That’s why it’s nice to see something a bit unusual alongside the more classic selection, whether that’s organic wines or something from small, individual producers. And the list has plenty of options by the glass, which I like to see!”

Sipping on a welcoming glass of sparkling wine (the fresh and flavourful Prosecco Vigna Nuova Spumante Brut), a flotilla of appetizers came to the table. Jerusalem soup, raw steak with egg, deep-fried fish with remoulade as well as smoked roe with Puikula potato.

Pinella classics make the menu

“The menu includes classic dishes from Pinella's old menus,” explains chef Juhola, and continues:

“For example, the soft Jerusalem artichoke soup is from the menu in 1888. The dish is then complemented by the flavour and contemporary texture of crisp green apple, grilled goat cheese and lemon verbena.”

Each starter drew the highest of praise but what came out on top was a surprise.

Smoked roe <3 Puikula mousse

“The portion of smoked roe is a fantastic idea,” says Marika Aaltonen, herself a food entrepreneur and the group’s passionate foodie.

“Smoking the roe takes the edge off the flavour and nicely softens its texture. And together with the rich Puikula potato mousse, the combination is close to perfection.”

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    A menu of sheer nostalgia: Pinella's Classic Trio

    Taste the history of Turku by ordering the Classic Trio menu. The set menu begins with the 1888 artichoke soup, followed by parrilla-grilled veal (1940) before finishing with the salted caramel apple pie (1989).

    If upgrading to the Classical Five, you can also enjoy the raw steak with egg (1950) and the grilled salmon (1960).

    Menu prices are €47 and €62 per person, respectively. It's a good idea to book in advance, especially if dining with a larger group!

rought to the table next was the pumpkin risotto accompanied by mozzarella and sage, a dish which receives high praise.

“The pumpkin gives the dish a wonderful flavour, not only relying on the parmesan, which is often the case with risotto,” comments Marika, praising the chef's seasoning skills.

Before dessert, the classic and juicy halibut as well as the elk are still left to taste, with no question of leaving either, despite our full stomachs.

And of course, the desserts are the type that cannot be skipped. We went crazy for the milk chocolate mousse and blackcurrant chocolate cake with Chinese hibiscus (!), but the fresh berry posset and salted caramel apple pie were also exemplary.

A glass half full – with what?

To accompany this superb meal, in addition to the bubbly we started with, we also tasted five other wines from Pinella's interesting and extensive menu.

A bottle of Johannisberger Riesling Trocken (Prinz Von Hessen, Germany) or the Classic Organic Grüner Veltliner 2017 (Sepp Moser, Austria) are white wines that accompany well the fish and vegetarian dishes. Reds were elegantly represented by the Toro Orot Crianza 2015 (Toresanas, Tempranillo, Spain) and Pinot Cuvée Gastronomie 2016 (Jean Perrier & Fils, pinot noir, France).

To finish the meal we had the sweet and delicious dessert wine Castello di Ama Vin Santo 2011 (Castello di Ama, Malvasia Bianca and Trebbiano, Italy).


A strong recommendation

“As a professional, I always pay attention to the wines recommended on the menu. When you get the wine selection just right, it takes the meal to a whole new level,” adds Terhi and continues:

“Knowledgeable wine expertise is a big plus for the restaurant. It really tastes like Pinella has invested careful thought in the food and wine combinations.

Marika takes a similar view:

“A menu over a hundred years in the making – with a new twist. An atmosphere gently simmering in Turku's history books for 170 years. It gives Pinella more credibility than any other restaurant. I’m already planning whom to bring with me on my next visit.”

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    Pinella Event Calendar for Autumn 2019

    Sat 2nd November, Sunday brunch €24
    With 10th November, Father's Day dinner €45, children €15
    Fri 6th December, Independence Day Brunch (buffet 11am - 4pm) €24, children €9.50
    From Tue 10th December, Christmas weekday lunches €45, children €15
    Tue 24th December Declaration of the Christmas Peace, hot glögi at Puupinella
    Table setting for Christmas Eve (45 €) seating times at 12 noon, 12:30pm, 2:30pm and 3pm
    ​​​​​​​Tue 31st December, New Year's Eve menu (six courses, seating times 5pm and 8:30pm) €59


Made in collaboration with Sunborn.
Text Liina Komi. Video and images Kim Allen-Mersh.

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