I spent around two days in Helsinki in mid-October. We arrived fairly late in Helsinki and after finding our hotel, we set about trying to find somewhere to eat as we had not eaten since breakfast (Finnair screwed up and were unable to provide food on the flight over). Aino was our second choice after our first choice, Sea Horse in Ullanlinna, but they were booked full when we arrived.
Feeling somewhat dejected and hungry, we decided to head back towards our hotel when we passed Aino. After looking at the menu, we decided to pop inside.
Exterior of Aino
We actually passed by Aino on our way out of the hotel but I dismissed it because of the font in the window (Comic Sans, really?!) and not wanting to go with the first thing we saw. We knew Helsinki would be expensive, especially with the fall of the Pound Sterling due to Brexit, and this place was really expensive! Knowing it was unlikely we would be visiting Helsinki soon after, we popped inside.
Interior of Aino
I ordered the Mesila Hunajasima (€5), a non-alcoholic honey mead which was absolutely delicious! It was sweet but not overly so and fairly light; I really recommend it! My sister went for Helsinki Long Drink (€9.50), which is a pink grapefruit alcoholic drink that’s iconic in Finland. You can definitely taste the grapefruit in this, but I found myself preferring the delicate flavours of the honey mead more. We also got some iced water which cost €1 per person.
We both ordered a set menu each consisting of 3 courses, one called the Menu Aino and the other the Menu Väinämöinen. Väinämöinen, as I later discovered, is the name of a mythical Finnish god and hero. The former costing €49.50 and the latter €56.00. For an additional €33 or €32 for each set menu respectively, you can also add the recommended wine for each course: 12cl for the starter, 16cl for the main course and 8cl for the dessert. We didn’t opt for this option.
First on Menu Aino was the celeriac soup with smoked bacon. The soup itself was really creamy and the saltiness of the bacon went well with it. This would have been €11 on from the à la carte menu.
Salmon with roe mousse
Although this was a smaller dish than the soup, each of the individual elements in this starter was really well made. I especially like the salmon and roe mousse. This is €14.50 from the à la carte menu.
White fish with fennel sauce
I was drawn to the Menu Aino initially as I wanted to eat seafood as living in Manchester meant I was very far from the sea and fresh seafood! The fish was moist and the fennel sauce wasn’t overpowering. I think the only thing I found excessive was the charred cabbage, regular cabbage would have been just fine. This is €30.50 from the à la carte menu.
Reindeer fillet with porcini sauce
Similarly, my sister chose the Menu Väinämöinen as she wanted to try reindeer meat. The meat itself was tender and similar to venison. The porcini sauce complimented the meat well and the potato soaked up the rest of the sauce nicely. This is €38.50 from the à la carte menu.
White chocolate mousse
The dessert for the Menu Aino was the white chocolate mousse with chocolate cake. This was a bit underwhelming as the mousse was a bit bland and I felt the chocolate cake bits didn’t add much. This is €10.50 from the à la carte menu.
Rye blueberry pastry
The rye-blue berry pastry accompanied the Menu Väinämöinen. This tasted like a mousse cake and the addition of rosemary to the blueberry really added an extra dimension to the flavours. The rye base added crunch. This dessert costs €10.50 from the à la carte menu. Get used to seeing rye everything in Scandinavian countries as they love the stuff!
I felt some aspects of the meal were superfluous but overall it was a very good meal for our first stay in Helsinki. If there are aspects of the meal you didn’t like in the set course, you can of course just order from the à la carte menu.
Address: Pohjoisesplanadi 21, 00100 Helsinki, Finland