Vegetarian food is probably more popular than ever, and the quality restaurants in Tampere have answered the demand with producing excellent vegetarian dishes. Meat, nowadays of higher quality and with more knowledge of the origin, has still stood its ground in the heart of hefty carnivores as well as those, who go for the vegetarian option more often than before. Where the meat comes from and how has it been produced are important to today’s restaurant guests, and domestic, traceable meat is the thing.
The offerings of the small producers, who take pride in their work and show respect to the livestock, are greeted warmly in many restaurants. Especially the meats available in small patches and not so often are sought after. Often the chefs even visit the farms and producers to see the living conditions and the animals with their own eyes. Sometimes the meat comes from the restaurant’s own lands, which is the case with Restaurant Anna, located in the Ahlman farm where they raise their own Finncattle. The meat might travel from just the farm’s own abattoir to the restaurant, where it will be handled with care, put into a dry ager to obtain the intensive flavor and perfect texture, then grilled on charcoal in the aroma of the open fire, to be then offered to the pleased customers.
Altogether the restaurants offer all sorts of meats, hung, cut and cooked in various different ways. Hare, lamb, pork, bull, horse or goat – you name it. For example the organic, wild and local Restaurant C has hunted naturally grown hare to its plates, as well goatling, an ethical option which I hope will find its way to the restaurants more in the future than it does now. Beef from a biodynamic farm Rekola is found refreshingly often.
Huber, on the other hand, has boasted Finnish horse on its lists for years and lately, the restaurant has started to offered high-quality dairy cow’s meat as its main item. In addition to these, Huber has been a trendsetter on a national level when it comes to dry agers. The dry ager cabinets summon out the strongest of meat tastes, and throughout the years Huber’s cabinets have showcased all sorts, from pig’s heads and horse roast to leg of lamb. Nowadays all the meat swings by the dry ager, for at least for 4-8 weeks. The cabinet does some magic on the meat itself as well as the fat in it, and Huber is not the only restaurant using this method – meat loving restaurants Hella & Huone and the 4 Vuodenaikaa in the Tampere Market Hall have adopted the dry agers even for their sausages.
Restaurant Dabbal, located at Lapland Hotel, has direct contacts to many small reindeer meat producers in Lapland. Even wild reindeer straight from the free pastures of Salla is available. Reindeer is served in various ways – we have had the luck of tasting reindeer as tartar, steaks and blood pudding and savouring some reindeer leg and heart. The charcoal grill of the kitchen guarantees that most of the reindeer has that Lapland taste and feel as it is cooked over an open fire, as it would be in the Lappish wilderness.
If you are into the flavours that come from cooking on open-fire grills, you might want to head towards restaurants Kajo, Huber, Bertha, C and Maruseki.
Although for example in Huber, where the meat is the main feature, conspicuous consumption is however not advised, as the emphasis is strongly on the quality: less often but better. With the vegetarian and vegan diets booming, following its own path of high-quality meat, Huber has become the place to enjoy some decent carnivorous meals even for those, who usually follow more of a vegetable-based diet. When meat is eaten, people want it to be of quality. The same can be said about those who extinguish their meaty hungers in restaurant C, Dabbal, Hella & Huone or Kajo, too.
The Spanish-type chicken restaurant Los Pollos grill only Finnish GMO-free country chicken over their fire, and the nationally known steak restaurant Bodega Salud, also known for some exotic offerings, has started to use only purebred Finnish cattle. Small, local meat producers are also the number one choice for the mostly vegetarian restaurant Muusa. Muusa is a good place for entourages of many preferences, as you can find something for vegetarian friend, carnivore of a boyfriend, pesco-vegetarian bestie and the vegan grandpa. With at least a bit of a heads-up, most of the restaurants mentioned here will be able to do the same.
Text and photos: Ronja Honko