Vegan travellers can often come across issues when eating out abroad. As Lou highlighted in her tips for vegan travellers post, vegans often have to deal with a lack of choice, and special vegan-friendly treats can be tough to come by. Well hats off to Salutorget is what we say! This Helsinki-based high-end restaurant is the first in Finland to offer a vegan afternoon tea.
Sitting alongside the regular afternoon tea on the menu, the vegan afternoon tea was the brainchild of executive chef Toni Leskinen. A man who loves to experiment with ingredients, he worked tirelessly on vegan-friendly recipes to create an impressive afternoon tea spread without a hint of dairy or meat in sight.
We tried out both the regular and vegan options during our visit, but today I’ll focus on the vegan offering – it if you’re interested in hearing what the ‘classic’ afternoon tea entailed, then check out my full review here!
The savoury tier
Savoury dishes included a cucumber and vegan-friendly cream cheese sandwich, mushroom toast, hummus crackers, Jerusalem artichoke confit and Porkkala: a vegan take on a smoked salmon sandwich. It’s made of Tofutti dairy-free cream cheese and carrot, which I believe is marinated and turned into a spread (if I’ve got this wrong Finnish readers, please let me know!). I’m not a huge carrot fan at all, but I can tell you this had a wonderful, unexpected rich flavour and was one of our favourite dishes from across both menus!
Scones of a surprising texture
Next we moved onto the scones, which I believe were gluten free. They had had a very surprising texture for a gluten free baked good, as I usually find them very crumbly. However, at Salutorget the scones are much sturdier than I’m used to. I actually found them quite tough and dense, which was a little disappointing, but this was made up for by the vanilla cream, which was served alongside apple and calvados, and raspberry jams.
Vegan biscuits and sweets
As you’d expect, our afternoon tea experience ended with biscuits and sweets. The selection was smaller than those served on the regular afternoon tea, but we were far from disappointed. This was because we were again treated to a variety of exciting tastes and textures in the form of raw cake, rosehip jelly and some kind of weakened meringue. That may not sound appealing to some people, but stay with me guys!
The raw cake sadly began to melt on the stand, but that didn’t stop us from scooping it up! With a strong raspberry flavour it almost felt like it had two halves; a soft cream cheese-esque top with a thicker, more moose-like bottom. It may not have kept its shape well, but it still went down a treat.
The rosehip jelly looked reminiscent of sweets you’d see your granny eat. These gooey squares had a sweet flavour that was oddly moreish. This was the same with the weakened meringue; its crazy texture was like eating sticky, melted marshmallow.
We ended our vegan afternoon tea experience on a high, with one of the most amazing chocolates I’ve ever eaten. This high quality dark chocolate ganache was decadently rich, so much so that although you’d love to have a second you just know it’ll be too much. In my opinion, it’s worth coming to Salutorget for this chocolate alone!
It was a really unique and exciting set of desserts in my opinion, much better than we expected from a vegan selection (food snob alert!). Both the regular and vegan offerings felt innovative and tasted great – the perfect combination I think!
Service and prices
Salutorget is a wonderful place to have afternoon tea in Helsinki. The restaurant is well placed in the historic city centre and I found the service was great. Our waiter was funny, friendly and happy to spend time talking us through all the dishes and answering any questions we had.
Price-wise, I thought that €23.50 for afternoon tea was pretty good value, especially when you know that eating out in any Scandinavian countries usually empties your purse! If you’re heading to Helsinki, I definitely recommend Salutorget as an afternoon tea destination.
Afternoon tea is available at Salutorget between 2-6pm Monday to Saturday. At time of writing the price is €23.50 for both the regular and vegan afternoon teas, or €36.40 if you’d also like to include a glass of champagne.
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Our afternoon teas were complimentary for the purposes of this review. However, as always, all views are my own.