Hel Yes! Scandinavian to the Finnish (Har har!)
(Apologies. I couldn’t resist the title :)
My name is Niamh and it’s been 2 days since I’ve had lingonberries. TWO WHOLE DAYS. So there was nothing for it, I had to make my way to Hel Yes! in Shoreditch, a Finnish Pop Up restaurant that is in London throughout London Design Week (for 14 days from September 15th). I was actually there for a press preview, but the lingonberry thing, well that’s important.
Scandinavia is everywhere, isn’t it? It certainly is in my life at the moment. Ensconced in Londonewcastle Depot and surrounded by council flats, the setting is certainly urban. Once inside though, it’s all wood and candles, gentle and inviting. Of course there’s also the fibreoptic bat. And this guy, who is apparently Finland’s answer to Jodie Harsh.
Serving a set menu of 2 courses for £22 and 3 courses for £25, the menu is traditionally Finnish,serving key Finnish ingredients such as fish roe, game and preserved plants from Finland with the rest of the daily ingredients sourced by the Hel Yes! team of hunters and gatherers from around London. We started with drinks, a kind of Lingonberry slush puppy, which along with Cloudberry 9’s, is responsible for me being a little frazzled today. Great drinks though.
We had a bit of everything. A spritely and perfectly fresh sea bass tartar was a delight. The bread was a bit dense for my taste but I could see how it would work in the cold of Finland. Ox tongue with wild mushrooms was interesting and very rustic, the ox tongue proving challenging for some but I quite liked it. The mushrooms were rich and a lovely complement ton the grainy tongue. Beetroot, sour cream and dill was delicious. The beetroot were packed with flavour and served whole.
Main courses were popular. Lamb neck with dill was tender and rich. Slow cooked it fell apart at the touch of a fork. Anchovy and potato bake with granny’s cucumbers was rich, unctuous and crispy, smacking with umami and a lovely side to the lamb (even though that wasn’t the intention). The cucumbers were very like Irish pickled cucumber, I enjoyed them immensely. Wild mushroom hash, egg and foraged herbs was my favourite. The hash had turnip of some kind, the eggs were perfectly poached (a rarity in this city sadly) and the mushrooms were rich. I wonder if they foraged any of them here?
Desserts were a deliciously fruity whipped raspberry manna with vanilla milk, a very alcoholic sorbet with cinnamon vodka and a burned liquorice cream which I didn’t get to try.
Overall impressions? A fun evening. Buzzing with good food, nice wines, unusual and delicious cocktails and good prices. Sadly, it’s booked out in the evenings already, but you can pop in during the day for drinks and coffee. Get yourself on the waiting list for one of the evenings too. Just watch that pesky Old St station. Every single time, I get confused in there. How many exits does a tube station need?!
Outside London? They’ve posted some recipes here, so you can recreate it at home.
Hel Yes! runs until 3rd October. Further details here: http://www.helyes.fi/en/restaurant