Helsinki offers a rich palette of fine restaurants, delis and cafés. Of course, there are also uncountable quasi-food on-the-go vendors. That’s not the type of chow I have in mind today–not the kind you’d eat only when drunk on a Friday night and the kind that leaves that unmistakable aftertaste at least until Monday afternoon for even greater embarrassement not only in front of your spouse, but nosy colleagues too. Not of that ilk.
If you swear by Michelin stars, you’ll find such eating places too. But that again is not what I’m aiming at. Some time last week I spoted a tad odd ad in the newspapers that pierced my brain. It was an advertisement for a café in Helsinki offering a house hamburger for an unfathomable price of 21€. I had to rub my eyes twice before I could be sure those numbers were written in that order.
I cut out the ad and was on a mission to find out what does it feel like, both in the mouth and in the mind, to eat a 21€ hamburger.
I walked past the Kämp café umpteen times, but was never drawn to it enough to cross their doorstep. Although the café seems to be a rather insignificant part within the Kämp imperium spanning from luxurious hotels, and restaurants to bars, spa and what not, it is not at all timorous in this company. Quite the contrary, the café shines in its neoclassical interior decoration and bourgeoisie clientele. Not exactly my kind of thing, but all I have on my mind right now is the burger.
It was Saturday afternoon and the place was packed. I was stunned. But there I was, at the mercy of a waitress trying to find an available table. I couldn’t have ever imagined that I’d need to make a table reservation for a hamburger meal. After I was seated, she handed me the menu, which I did not really need, since I’ve known for days what exactly I came for: Garçon, bring me the Kämp hamburger. What would I like to drink? Bring me whatever goes well with your burger. I got Coke. Surprised? A bit, but when I come to think of it, what else could I have expected. A glass of 2000 Château Cheval Blanc?
The burger arrives. Chef de cuisine even branded the thing; it sports a large K burnt right on top of the bun. It didn’t come from McDonald’s, that’s for sure. I take a couple of snapshots and dig in.
Ground beef replaced with thin slices of marbled fillet of beef, lettuce upgraded to fresh rucola, undisclosed sauce promoted to horseradish mayonnaise. And besides laying these ingredients between two pieces of bread, they actually cared to tell me what I’m eating. Not to mention the fries made out of real potatoes.
The verdict? It tasted alright, it landed in the stomach with a loud thump, but I managed alright. However, I wonder if my friends from the land of the burger would still consider it to be a burger with all these peculiar ingredients.