Modern Mediterranean food, interesting cocktails, trendy decoration, and an extensive wine list. Bronda has all the ingredients for a great restaurant
We quickly discovered that Helsinki has more than its fair share of great restaurants, and we were enjoying discovering what the city had to offer. There is definitely a local gastronomic style there, which blends global trends with local minimalist traditions. To help us continue our exploration of Finnish food, we decided to lunch at Bronda – a relatively new restaurant, which serves up a brassiere style menu, based on the food of the Mediterranean…sort of.
There is something trendy about Bronda and we noticed it as soon as we arrived. It has modern Scandinavian (yet comfortable) feel to it, which makes you want to sit down and spend some time relaxing on the cushions while sipping cocktails. The main dining space is very airy thanks to the high ceilings and large windows, and the natural light flooding was much appreciated in sun-starved Helsinki. The colors used in the decoration are muted and natural, with whites and light wooden tones being most prominent.
All this combines to create an elegant space, which contains a certain amount of class. A huge glass fronted wine rack sits behind the bar, which towers over one side of the room and has room for eight hundred bottles. At the same time, Bronda is modern, comfortable, and even slightly playful in its style. Glass balls of light held in nets hang down from the ceiling, where they encounter exposed pipe-work and industrial vaulting.
This is perhaps a leftover from the building’s time as one of the city’s most popular bakeries. Brodin (as it was called) opened in the early 1900s and had a café attached to it. Here artists would hang out over coffee and fresh bread, and the decision to retain the name was deliberate – the owners see themselves as continuing the tradition of the building.
Being right in the city center, it feels like the sort of place that Helsinki’s cool young professionals might come to eat after work, although its casual atmosphere would make pretty much anyone feel welcome. We felt especially so, thanks to our conversation with the chef, who proved himself to be extremely charismatic and friendly.
The team which he is part of is called BW Restaurants, and together they have established themselves as excellent restaurateurs. In total they now operate five restaurants – four in Helsinki and one in Stockholm – of which Bronda is the newest. Tomi Björck and Matti Wikberg are the owners, and although their later additions serve European food, they made their names with their Asian restaurants. Gaijin for example, serves Japanese, Korean, and Northern Chinese dishes and is firmly on our list of places to try.
After sitting down and taking a look at the menu, we were surprised by the cocktail list (perhaps the wine cabinet should have tipped us off!). Finland has extremely strict laws surrounding the sale of alcohol, and so far during our time there we had noticed how this affects what is on offer. Strong drinks are banned, and hospitality owners can expect to be taxed a massive 14% when selling alcohol and food.
Despite this, the bar team took it as a challenge and has managed to create some tasty drinks at very reasonable prices. They recommend specific wines which are chosen to pair well with your choice of dish – and with so many on offer, you can be confident that they will have the perfect compliment to your meal. They also have some excellent cocktails, many of which are in-house creations. Some of these have been brought over from the menus of their other restaurants, and so have an Asian twist to them, which adds welcome variety. Chris was particularly impressed with his ‘Italian Job’, which was made up of pink grapefruit, vanilla and lime.
By this point we were starting to get hungry and our conversation with the chef had certainly worked up a sense of anticipation. He had told us about how he prides himself on the lengths he goes to in order to ensure the freshness of his ingredients. This means weekly deliveries of veal from France, and sourcing Burrata from Milan in just six hours – no mean feat when you realise how far apart the two cities are!
It didn’t take long for the food to arrive, and when it did it was as good as we had hoped. I went for the Salmon Basque, which was a soupy mix of seafood, chorizo, and potato (amongst other ingredients). On top sat the fillet of salmon complete with a perfectly charred layer of skin.
Chris went for the ribs and I have to say that these are an absolute must. We rarely order ribs as, having grown up on the ones cooked by my Dad, it is unlikely any will live up to what he does on a grill. The chef was very insistent, so we gave in and really enjoyed every mouthful. If you ever eat there, another tip I would give is to order the pasta if it is on the menu. Mine was a healthy and delicious mix of mushrooms, pumpkin, arugula and parmesan, which was just lovely.
After finishing our food, we found ourselves reluctant to leave. The space is so comfortable and cozy that you want to just want to sit back and sample another one of their cocktails. If we lived in Helsinki this would be one of our go-to spots for meeting friends, and we will be keeping an eye out for BW Restaurants’ future endeavours.
For more information about this restaurant please follow the link below: