Restaurant Bronda in Helsinki, Finland. A trendy place, it seems, from the looks of it. But more important, how’s the food?

I start of with an “arancino”. This is originally a Sicilian invention from the 10th century, a rice ball filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ragú (meat sauce) and peas. It is then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. In the south of Italy, they’re often shaped like a “fat cone”, although there are local varieties all over Italy both in terms of shape and filling. In case you haven’t already figured, arancino means “little orange” in Italian. It does indeed often have an orange look. In rome, they have supplí which does remind of the arancino. In Naples, the dish is called “pall’e riso” which means rice ball. Having eaten many of these throughout my visits to southern Italy, I was very surprised to see it on the menu in a Finnish restaurant. I can’t remember having seen it on any menu outside of Italy, and even there it’s mostly something you find in cafes rather than in restaurants. The one at restaurant Bronda is quite small in size, and served with a truffle mayo. It is marvelous. The chef has taken something good, and made it even better. The coating is perfect, the mushroom and cheese filling is flavorsome, and the truffle mayo works perfectly with the rest. I really have my hopes up now.

Next is the white fish sashimi with prawns and sorrel soup. Yes, the white fish could be a little more tender, and yes I’ve had better prawns, but overall it’s really good. Sorrel leaves remind of the taste of kiwifruit, but without the sweetness. The chef knew what he was doing when creating this soup. It’s excellent, and all the flavors in this dish are perfectly balanced.

Then comes the burger. It’s served with lettuce, red onions caramelized then pickled, cheddar cheese and a foie gras creme. A “home made” ketchup on the side. Now, the combination of flavors is excellent, the fois gras creme does an excellent job with my taste buds. However, the beef patty is quite dry and the bun too chewy and tasteless. It doesn’t matter that they specify in the menu that it’s “local meat”; it’s not automatically good just because it’s local, except perhaps for the environment. As with many other Nordic hamburger places, they try to compensate the dry patty by cooking it rare. It doesn’t help, it only results in a raw dry beef patty instead of a well done dry beef patty. I’m disappointed, it could have been perfect.

‘Banana crema catalana’ for desert. It all started on top, and went downhill from there. The tequila and and lime flavored coconut sorbet is nice, and the crispy banana and peanuts on top are quite ok but as a whole it’s just not. The crema catalana with banana pieces on the bottom is an uncivilized mess. The whole thing is just huge and packed with various “Caribbean stereotype flavors” that might go well together in a cheap long drink at a bar in Thailand, but here it’s just not doing it for me.

All together, Bronda is worth a visit. At least for the entrées.