Given last year’s traffic nightmare trying to get out of Helsinki, Otto, Paula and I hit the road nice and early this time. As a consequence we arrived in Turku in very good time and spent the afternoon exploring the city. Otto & Paula have some sort of alternate reality game on their tablets that requires them to visit locations around the world and register at “portals” there. It is sort of like geo-caching, except the treasure is all virtual and you are also part of a team game. It is also a very good excuse to visit interesting buildings, public works of art and so on.
We ended up wandering around the riverside area of Turku in search of somewhere to eat. Otto spotted a steakhouse, and that sounded fairly harmless, so in we went.
Inside it looked very posh, and also very quiet. The waiter who greeted us explained something in Finnish which Otto translated as their having just re-opened after a private party. I thought no more of this and got to examining the menu.
It quickly became obvious that we had stumbled into somewhere very expensive. This was Stefan’s Steakhouse, owned by Stefan Richter who was a finalist on American Top Chef. When you are in such a place, the only thing to do is eat well and worry about the bill later. For comparison, it cost around the same as a meal at Bell’s Diner in Bristol, and is in a similar league quality-wise.
First up a comment about the aperitif they offered. The waiter described it as a mixture of white wine, red soda and cranberries. This was precisely correct. Not wine, soda and cranberry juice; wine, soda and cranberries. It was lovely.
For starters I had to try the roast bone marrow. It is something I had never eaten before. Once extracted from the surrounding bone, it is not the most appetizing-looking stuff in the world, but it tastes wonderful and I was glad to have tried it.
My main course was reindeer sirloin. It is one of the nicest pieces of meat I have ever eaten. I’ve eaten reindeer before, of course, but this was spectacular. Otto & Paula were similarly happy with their steaks.
I’m not sure I’d recommend Stefan’s for dessert. I’ve never seen brownies presented more beautifully, but I have had them cooked better. Otto said his cheesecake was delicious, but it was very small. Still, given the overall quality of the food, I’m not at all unhappy we went there.
Afterwards we headed off to the Cosmic Comic Cafe, where Finnish fandom was gathering for the night. I got talking to Hannah who explained that a lot of people were not going to be there, either because of the USA-Finland ice hockey game, or because of the Bruce Springsteen concert…
I did not strangle anyone. I may have made faces that said, “there is a Springsteen concert on tonight and no one told me? WHY!!!!??????”
Actually Bruce played two nights in Turku (with very different sets for the two nights so all of the hard core fans went to both). Tickets sold out within 15 minutes of them being made available, so there’s no way I would have got one unless I’d known well in advance. But still…
“Oh yes,” said Otto, “that’s what the guy in the restaurant was on about. They had just re-opened after a private function for Springsteen and his tour party.”
So there you have it. Entirely by chance, we ate in the same restaurant as Bruce and the E-Street Band, just after he had left. For all I know, I could have sat in the same chair he used. I am going to pretend that it is so. I hope he enjoyed his meal as much as I did.