The new Robusto offers timeless flavors with a modern twist, planted in the present day

4/17/24 12:40 PM
Olli Kolu avasi Robuston yhdessä Kari Aihisen kanssa joulukuussa 2023.

Robusto is born from the classic gastronomic background of two top chefs and a longing to return to their roots. Olli Kolu and Kari Aihinen's newest restaurant in Helsinki's Merikortteli opened in December 2023. 

– Before covid, we had the idea of having our own restaurant in Helsinki, and during the pandemic, the yearning to return to our roots only grew stronger. We both also have a passion for our own core business, the restaurant business, says Olli Kolu

The restaurant's food philosophy is based on the flavors that are typical for these two top chefs - timeless and authentic food. The restaurant's food is all about well-made dishes, quality ingredients and good vibes.

– The menu reflects our classic, French gastronomic base and background, but with a modern twist. We don't serve the classics outright, but the food is based on them, while keeping up with the times. The flavors are timeless but planted in the present day.

Kolu wants the food to be interesting and to keep the cooking interesting.

– You can always make tasty food, but you must keep it interesting all the time. If there's no little gimmick in the food, even making it starts to get boring. 

In addition to à la carte dishes, the restaurant also offers a quality sit-down lunch. Dinner is served from Monday to Saturday and lunch from Monday to Friday. 

– You can drop in to enjoy a long menu or a quick meal, or just for a drink at the bar. Everyone is welcome, says Kolu.

The heart of the restaurant is the gorgeous open kitchen

The atmospheric, industrial-style Merikortteli provides a unique setting for a restaurant experience. 

– Merikortteli is an interesting place. Helsinki is growing and developing, and this is one of the directions in which we are expanding. The area is growing, and there is huge potential here.

At the heart of the space is a stunning and communal open kitchen with a direct view from the lounge. 

– It's nice to have light and space. The open kitchen brings that and it's a nice experience for the customers to see how the food is prepared in the kitchen. 

The restaurant seats around 80 people and is great for a variety of groups. There is also a cabinet upstairs for private functions. The stylish bar adds an interesting touch and the art on the walls enhances the atmosphere.

Working in the kitchen must be smooth 

As an experienced designer, Kolu is also an expert in restaurant kitchen design. It is important to him that the kitchen is functional and easy to work in. 
– I like the kitchen to have clear spaces for all activities. The day-to-day work must flow well from one stage to the next and the work must be smooth and rhythmic. There should be no unnecessary steps in the kitchen.  

He believes that kitchen design plays a major role in staff welfare.

– It is important that staff are comfortable. For example, landing and working areas, working postures and ergonomics are important for work and comfort, and can even have an impact on staff retention. At best, these can help to keep good people in the building. 

When it comes to kitchen equipment, Kolu appreciates that the equipment is reliable and that the maintenance services work well. He has been satisfied with Metos' performance and equipment.

– I have enjoyed using Metos equipment, it is reliable and durable and, most importantly, I have always been able to rely on easy access to service. 

– For example, the ovens can be used for 12-14 hours a day, so the equipment is in heavy use all the time. It's quite normal that equipment needs to be repaired from time to time. That's why speed of maintenance is important, he explains.

Read also: Periodic maintenance has an important goal: to ensure the continuity of a professional kitchen's operations

The level of Finnish gastronomy is higher than ever

Restaurants have already had challenging few years, and the continuing news of restaurant closures is devastating. Kolu wants to encourage everyone to continue to eat out to keep the industry going and to ensure that restaurants have the conditions to operate and develop in the future.

– Times have been very challenging. Now prices are going up, and unfortunately this has also been reflected in the customer lists of restaurants. Despite the challenges, faith in the sector is strong on the entrepreneurial side.

– Finland has strong gastronomic expertise, and the standards here are higher than ever. Let's work together to keep the flag of Finnish and Nordic gastronomy flying high. So, let's keep eating out! Kolu encourages everyone.

Robusto Helsinki is located at Telakkakatu 7.

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