The opening day was Friday 3rd of March. That day at around noon, our inner courtyard still looked like it was run through by a truck. It did not look ready at all. But you would be surprised what a difference a few hours can make. The menus were printed one hour before opening and I was still making some tiny adjustments in the very last minute. I was a bit nervous.
It now feels silly, the nervousness. I believed in the concept from day one. I mean, I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. Still, I was anxious to see if people are going to show up. And I think every restaurateur can relate to that feeling.
Now that we’ve been open for some time, I can say that I’m really happy how Olo Garden turned out. It is just the kind of high-end restaurant without the stiffness this city needs. I also like the fact that we now have a cocktail bar and a real professional behind the cocktail list. We are lucky to have Paula Lundell with us. Some of our guests that have visited Garden have just sat by the bar counter the whole evening. And that’s just what we wanted – for our guests to make that choice, weather they sit by the bar, in the lounge area or more traditionally by the dining table.
The inner courtyard has gone through quite a change. We’ve got new furniture, a whole new setup and we’ve brought in some greens. We also have a long bar counter that is, by the way, useful in many ways. Apart from being a place to spend your evening sipping on colorful cocktails, the bar counter is super useful in preparing bread. Our boys always need like 4 meters of counter space for preparing our portioned sourdough bread. It’s great!
Garden’t menu really seems to please our guests. Like I mentioned earlier, the menu of Olo Garden is a bit more adventurous than the menus in Restaurant Olo and Creative Kitchen. Kim Mustonen has done a great job with it and I couldn’t be more proud. I like to see Olo Garden getting busier every day. It means we’ve done something right.
P.s. Come and visit us Saturday 20th of May. We’re having an Open doors event in our restaurant.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been busy with testing new dishes in the middle of a renovation. Me and my colleague Kim Mustonen have been quite experimental in the kitchen. Aside from Nordic flavors, we’ve worked with Asian and Middle-Eastern flavors. Can you imagine eating kimchi in Olo? I didn’t believe it until now, but yes, it will be possible in our new restaurant. Me and Kim have looked outside the box and I have to say, it has been a lot of fun. Like I said earlier, my colleagues are everything when it comes to creating something new.
It has been exactly a year since I was in Japan with my co-workers Heikki & Kim. I still think about those times with a smile on my face. That trip also reflects to my food. I think I’ve added some Japanese elements to the new menu both consciously and subconsciously. And when I think about it, there are a lot of similarities between Nordic and Asian food. It’s minimalistic but ambitious.
So what is our new restaurant like? It’s simple, delicious and cheery.
Those are the words that, in my opinion, describe Olo Garden. It is like the adventurous little sister of Olo. A casual meeting place, where our guests can have a cocktail and some snacks – or enjoy a longer dinner, if they wish. And most importantly – decide for themselves and have a good time. Our dishes can be eaten with hands at the bar, on the couch or at a dining table.
The idea of Olo Garden was born some time ago in a meeting where me and my fellow restaurateurs were brainstorming about our inner courtyard. It is such a unique place and it has mostly been used for private events. The idea of opening a new restaurant came up and we didn’t need to think twice – it was a no-brainer. So here we are, a day before opening and I can’t believe how fast time has passed.
I still have a lot of work to do before tomorrow and I can’t say I’m not nervous. But it’s a good kind of nervous.
The Michelin star is not a lifetime award – you need to re-earn it every year and every day. It should not be taken for granted.
You can actually compare a dinner service to a theater piece. The actors redo the play every night and at some point, it will be the 10th or the 20th time for them. But not for the audience. The guest is probably there for the first time and sometimes for the one and only time. Every single show counts and they all have to be equally good. Similarly, a restaurants reputation only lasts for a day and it has to be re-earned again and again.
They say that the first Michelin star is given purely based on the food. But I know that’s not true. Everything and everyone affects the dining experience. The food, the wine, the service.
I want to congratulate our whole team for the Michelin star, that we’ve earned for the 7th time now. I am proud to call all of you my colleagues.
Let’s talk about menus and dishes. My life evolves around them quite a bit as you can tell based on my Instagram. Those dishes on my profile, well, not many of them have ended up in a menu. Looks isn’t everything and it all comes down to taste. The dish has to work on many levels.
First of all, I’m not a fan of menus that stay the same for days, weeks and even months. Our dishes change slightly every day. Sometimes it’s a must and is defined by seasonal ingredients. Sometimes its spontaneous and sometimes it just happens out of a spark of inspiration given by an ingredient, nature, people or just about anything.
I mostly get new ideas on my spare time, when I shouldn’t think about work. You know, like during jogging or washing laundry (just kidding, I don’t really wash laundry that much). I always carry them with me, though. The thoughts on food, that is.
Every dish we have is a part of a bigger entity – the menu. When changing a dish or even a component of a dish, you need to take all the other dishes in the menu into account. It’s like a puzzle, where all the pieces have to fall into place.
I think a lot on my own, but I don’t like to keep the ideas to myself. They usually get refined later with other people around me. You need colleagues to make good become great, even if you have the final say in things. An idea, which is being tossed and turned around through brainstorming, is more likely to become great. It’s also much more fun to develop a dish with talented colleagues. You might hear something that you’ve never thought of before. We test a lot of dishes and only a small part actually ends up in the menu. You don’t change something just for the sake of it.
When do I have time to brainstorm AND test the dishes? Well, we always manage to make some time between services and use it for an efficient brainstorming session.
Speaking of creating new – have you heard of our Olo Garden already? I will tell you more about it soon. Now I have to go and polish our new à la carte menu with the team.
For some time, I’ve wanted to have my own platform, where I could write my thoughts. A non-monologue, that could start conversations and enable exchange in ideas. I might seem like a busy guy, who doesn’t have time for chit-chat, but I do have things to say and experiences I want to share. Giving and receiving inspiration is important.
Therefore, I’ve opened this blog.
Why in English? Because it happens to be the language most people understand and I don’t want people Google Translating my text.
In this blog, I want to be 100 % honest. What happens in social media most of the time is that you create this curtain of perfection around you, even though it’s far away from the truth. Talking about honesty, this text is not written by me. I mean the thoughts and semantics are mine, but they are put into words and translated by a ghost writer. These blog texts are written by the marketing coordinator of Olo Restaurant, and my friend, Timea Slavic. Well, I guess you cannot call it ghost writing anymore.
In our regular coffee breaks, we discuss things that are current – whether it is the job, the food, the weather or just about anything. Those will eventually become topics of blog posts. I always read the texts before they get published to ensure it is exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it. I might write them myself sometimes (if I have time), or I might have guest writers on my blog from time to time – it will, however, be indicated in the text every time.
So I hope you find my blog interesting and follow me for upcoming posts. Feel free to comment & share whenever you feel like you agree or disagree with me or just feel like sharing something from yourself.
The floor is ours.
I’m about to publish my first post shortly. Stay tuned!