This week on Let’s Eat, Helsinki, we visited one of Helsinki’s oldest, classical restaurants Restaurant Lehtovaara, which neighbors the famous Sibelius Monument.
Established in 1916, Lehtovaara was originally located in Vyborg, Russia. The Winter War of 1939 led to the evacuation of Vyborg and the restaurant was resettled in Helsinki in 1940, at the edge of the Sibelius Park in the quiet and elegant neighborhood of Taka- Töölö, where it has remained for nearly eighty years.
Located on the ground floor, the restaurant’s glass-enclosed patio area, which is open year-round, has a clear view outside. In its entirety, the restaurant can accommodate up to 120 diners and has a spacious feel that is nevertheless able to deliver a private, conversational atmosphere.
Lehtovaara has maintained its traditional look, avoiding the frequent updates to its setting that is common in restaurants, and the mood is classy without feeling dated. Soft natural light through the wide glass windows, simple flowers and foliage accents, and tables dressed in white linens feel traditional, pure and inviting.
The sense of tradition extends to the crowd that frequents Lehtovaara, which is often comprised of locals who have been coming to the restaurant from generation to generation.
French Classics on the Menu
A nod to its location can be found in one of the main courses, aptly named ‘Salmon a la Sibelius’. An a la carte menu is available and lunch is served every weekday from 11 a.m. On Sundays, Lehtovaara offers a delightful brunch which includes an appetizer buffet table, along with 3 main courses and dessert menu.
French gastronomy is at the heart of Lehtovaara and the dishes served maintain a healthy respect toward classical Gallic culinary techniques. The use of local, seasonal ingredients have added a distinct Nordic influence to their dishes, as is quite the norm for haute cuisine nowadays.
For visitors who are desirous of Scandinavian flavors, their 21-dish appetizer menu will not disappoint. Served between 11 and 12 a.m., it is presented in buffet style, it includes traditional Scandinavian dishes such as marinated herrings and pickled raw fish, in addition to other delicacies.
Lehtovaara’s signature dish, the Coeur de Filet Provencale, has been on their menu for nearly 70 years. Created in 1952 by the French chef who was head of the kitchen at that time, the classic beef dish was intended for visitors to Helsinki who had come to enjoy the Summer Olympic Games, and has stayed on the menu ever since. Named the Best Steak in Town in 1996, it can be enjoyed at their Sunday brunch or from the a la carte menu, and is served alongside delicious garlic potatoes and champignon mushrooms.
Lehtovaara’s wine cellar contains around 100 labels of primarily Old World wines along with a selection of New World varieties, all of which have been chosen for their excellent pairing with the classical offerings on the menu.
For reservations, contact Restaurant Lehtovaara by phone +358 (0)9 440 833
or by e-mail email@example.com. Reservations for the same day should not be made via e-mail.
Mon–Fri 11 am to 11 pm; Sat 4 pm to 11 pm; Sun 1 pm to 5 pm
Mechelininkatu 39, 00250 Helsinki