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Local stalwart soon celebrating 40 years of serving tastes a la Española.

PARRILLA ESPAÑOLA has offered exquisite Spanish quality food in Helsinki since 1973. This fruitful family business has been delighting palates for four generations. The story began when current owner Mika Kavekari’s grandfather owned Hotel Torni up until 1972. His pioneer spirit and ideas made him establish, among other restaurants, the very first Spanish Restaurant in Finland, Parrilla Española de Torni. After HOK Elanto bought the hotel he decided to open a new Spanish restaurant in the city. Thus Parrilla Española, situated in Eerikinkatu, was born.

A step inside

Red is the colour of Spain and Parrilla is a faithful representation of Spanish culture. Its snow-white painted walls, its clay tile floors and bright red paintings transported us to the south of this bullfighting country.

As we walk in, co-owner (and Mika’s mother) Katriina Kavekari welcomes us with a warm smile. All seats were divided in cubicles, giving a great sense of comfort and intimacy, and soon photographer Eva and I are seated in a cosy corner.

Owner Mika Kavekari (centre) represents the fourth generation of owners for that have been bringing Spansish cuisine to diners in the Capital Region for four decades.

‘Buen Provecho’

Mother and son soon set about offering us a three-course meal that delighted and satisfied. I was amazed at the quality of food that was brought to us, with its variety and freshness.

The entrée consists of a Tapas platter (€24.00) mainly with Spanish chorizo, Mancheco cheese (brought directly from the city La Mancha), Serrano ham and delicious white bread garnished with finely chopped tomatoes and onions.

Never having tasted Spanish gastronomy before, I trust Eva’s opinion and she, being of Spanish origin herself, assured me that the flavours transported her back to Spain. “This comes from Galicia,” she observes while tasting our chorizo.

Our main course was the star of our meal. The amazing Solomillo Santanderina (€29.00), such exquisite and tender beef fillet, melts in my mouth, combined with a slightly spiced pepper sauce and garnished with sautéed potatoes and vegetables. While I enjoy my luxurious Solomillo, Eva tucks into a gorgeous Pikeperch fish a la Vasca (€24.00), garnished with shrimps, mussels and sautéed vegetables.

Last but not least, two different desserts, starting with a rich Catalan Cream (€9.00). As the name suggests, originally from the Catalan region, this sweet delicacy could be considered crème brûlée’s twin sister, although slightly different in flavour due to the added cinnamon and a slightly thicker consistency; a custard-like base and caramelised crisp sugar topping delivering a strong vanilla scent. A delicate mint leaf gives a extra touch to the palate.

Second-up is the Dream Chocolate (€10.00), a gorgeous chocolate fondant, accompanied with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and a few dots of deep red raspberry sauce that gave a wonderful colour touch to the plate and a unique extra fresh punch to the flavour.

Tradition become legendary

After this fantastic feast, Mika joins us for a quick chat. Having studied Restaurant Management for two years, he’s the fourth generation following his family business and doesn’t see himself doing anything else but being part of this traditional and cosy restaurant that has been his home for 20 years, now.

One of the two Head Chefs, Kari Mämmilä, is the king of the kitchen cooking today at this wonderful and genuine Spanish restaurant. Having worked at Parrilla since 1978, this Finnish cook really knows how to capture Spanish flavours to the core; he was taught and mentored by three Spanish chefs who used to work at the restaurant, during the third generation back in the day, and needless to mention Mämmilä learned well.

This being my first experience tasting Spanish gastronomy, I recommend a visit to Parrilla Española restaurant and try the Solomillo Santanderina with pepper sauce, the highlight of my meal. If you ask Mika, however, he might suggest a Solomillo with red wine sauce and garlic potatoes, which he confessed to be closest to his heart.

Bottom line is, no matter what you order, you will not be disappointed.

La Parrilla Española
Eerikinkatu 4
Helsinki
Tel. (09) 603 305
Mon-Fri 11.30 - 23:00
Sat 17:00 - 23.30
www.parrillaespanola.fi

Text Valérie Brun, photos Eva Blanco.