Monthly Archives: March 2012

Finnish Bistro – St. Paul


Where else would one go on St. Patrick’s Day?

The Finnish Bistro of course!

Yes, that’s what my husband and I did! We had a Groupon for the Finnish Bistro in St. Paul and thought it would be a great place to dine on St. Patrick’s Saturday night without reservations. The Groupon {and this was a real Groupon} included:

For $20, you get a European dinner for two after 4 p.m. (up to a $45.90 total value). The meal includes the following:

  • Two entrées (up to an $13.95 value each)
  • Two sodas, juices, glasses of wine, or beers (up to a $9 value each)

I’ve mentioned in my Groupon post how these deals often get us out to restaurants we may not have known about and locations we may not know that well. Not having heard of this place before, I checked out the menu and was intrigued. While it featured Finnish and other Scandinavian dishes, the menu also included Mediterranean and Eastern European delights as well as grilled cheese and quesadillas. I knew my husband could handle it. 🙂

Besides, I live in a state known for its Scandinavian heritage. It’s time I learned a bit more about this. And having grown up in a primarily German and Polish part of eastern Wisconsin, I don’t think going to IKEA near the Mall of America counts.

We probably arrived around 5 or 6 pm. We walked in and saw a huge bakery display case:

Are Danishes in Finland called Finnishes? 🙂

We noticed that this was the type of place where we had to order at the counter. I don’t know why, but this disappointed me. {Interestingly, this is how Pardon My French works and it has never bothered me there. I love that place!} Maybe it’s the “bistro” feel I was looking for instead?

Believe it or not, there was a big group {they must not have been Irish} and only one person taking and delivering orders to the table. This was fine because we needed some time to mull over the menu.

I really did want to try something Scandinavian. However, this didn’t look like a place where I’d normally order fish. So I asked the gal behind the counter, “How’s the salmon?”

Without hesitation, she said, “Oh! It’s excellent here!”

“Great! I’ll have the salmon lefse.”

“That’s my favorite item on the menu! It’s the only thing that I order exactly as it’s read on the menu. You’ll love it.”

Rob placed his order, we put our tip in the jar, and she handed us our drinks. We found a little table near the window and sipped on our Finnish Porters!

We were quite pleased!

When our meal arrived, my plate was beautiful:

Lohi (salmon) Lefse with a small side salad

The only time I could have possibly had lefse before was when I went to visit my friend Erika in Seattle. We took a day trip to a little Scandinavian town called Poulsbo. If we did have lefse, I don’t remember what it tasted like. The company was more important. 🙂

So not knowing what lefse really is, Rob and I ripped off a piece of the wrap. Yum!  Tasted like potato. Sure enough, it’s a type of flatbread made of potato, milk or cream and flour. I loved it.  Ask my husband: I love all things potato. However, by the time I tasted all of the yummy ingredients inside, the lefse flavor faded into the background…

salmon, wilted spinach, roasted red pepper and onion

This was the most flavorful salmon that I’ve ever had! I couldn’t get over the seasoning. Look at the picture! You can even see specks of pepper. I was completely blown away. What a completely satisfying meal. There is no doubt that I’d order this again.

So, what did Rob order? The Baltic Special Flatbread Pizza:

The Baltic Special: Grilled Kielbasa sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, black olives, sautéed garlic & mozzarella on red sauce.

Rob’s Verdict: Much better than Black Sheep Pizza we had the week before. I tried it… cheesy, garlicky, and wait – Kielbasa? I’m home!

My Verdict: Definitely worth it! If we are ever in the area again, we’ll stop. It’s a quaint neighborhood with Muffaletta on the corner, a restaurant I’d been to once a few years back. There’s also a cute little wine shoppe across the road, too. It’s affectionately called “The Little Wine Shoppe”. 🙂 We picked up a couple of bottles before heading home.

Have you been to Finnish Bistro?

How about a little neighborhood restaurant?

If so, what did you like about it?