Restaurant owner Gill Hardev Singh decided to invest in drinks even though she couldn’t make them. Now the cocktail is even made from carrots or beets.
When hunger surprises in the Helsinki suburbs, there is usually only pizza, kebabs or burgers on offer, which can be rinsed down with a pint of medium beer.
From the outside, the Pukinmäki Puksu Room does not raise those expectations. Restaurant when located in the Pukinmäki business center on the stone foot of a gloomy concrete building.
At the time of the visit, two women are drinking beer on the restaurant terrace. Inside, a group of men watch a hockey game on a large TV screen just like in any suburban bar.
Puksu Room however, it differs from many of its kind: the menu does not include pizzas or burgers, but finger and vegetarian food, salads, or even long-stewed ribs in the oven.
The drinks selection includes specialty beers, and the restaurant also has a cocktail menu.
“We have cocktail lists that change according to the season. Now the list includes fruit-based drinks, but when the berries and vegetables ripen in the fall, we use them in our cocktails, ”says the bartender Salla Ahonen.
Cocktails came to the selection of a restaurateur Gill Hardev Singhin whim. One night five years ago, he decided to order a whiskey sour while sitting in a restaurant in Helsinki.
“I had tasted one like this once in my life, at the age of 18 at Helsinki Casino,” Singh says.
“It was so good that I went with my friend to the bar counter to ask how it was made. It became an idea that we could have cocktails. ”
Singh and his family had bought the Puksu Pub located in the business premises in 2014. The result was the Puksu Room, to which Singh wanted to bring something new and different.
“We wanted to stand out from other nearby bars with products that others don’t have. It must have either resources or its own ideas. We had ideas, but then you have to be ready to learn something new. ”
About cocktails Singh knew nothing but was willing to learn. When Salla Ahonen came to Puksu Room to work from the Kuuma restaurant in Tampere, the idea began to come true.
The duo sought information on making cocktails from other restaurants and industry consultants.
“We initially tried all sorts of techniques in our cocktails, like fermentation, fat washing and separating whey from milk. Now the matter has calmed down a bit, ”says Ahonen and laughs.
On the drink list, you can still find Puksun Clover Club, which has fermented raspberries and spiced sage. Tips on using vegetables and herbs in cocktails have also come from the restaurant’s chef From Antero Ostonen.
“We have used beets, carrots and celery. We also try to avoid losses. For example, lemon peel is made into a cordial with sugar, ie waste juice that can be used for drinks, ”says Ahonen.
Coronary pandemic took many restaurant entrepreneurs into distress when the government closed restaurants on two occasions for long periods of time. The Puksu Room was no exception.
“It was empty. It was just thought that nothing could be done. Let’s rest and think about the future, ”Singh says.
At the turn of the year, it even looked like jobs were at stake, and Ahonen was also laid off.
However, during the restaurant closures in Pukinmäki, the future turned to the future. The idea was born to invest in food as well. During the restaurant locks, the restaurant was first built with facilities for making cocktails and then a kitchen.
When customers could not be taken to the restaurant, it was possible to pick up food from the restaurant in Puksu Room.
“Fortunately, we have a lot of loyal customers who kept us afloat,” Singh says.
Puksu Roomin the menu intentionally lacks basic pizzas and kebabs, which follows the idea of differentiating itself from other restaurants. Instead, butter chicken and dessert gulap jamum are included as a reminder of Singh’s native India.
The gloomy look of the Puksu Room may not entice the occasional passer-by to step in, but even for that, Singh already has a plan in place.
“We have not yet been able to upgrade the terrace and facade due to the construction site of the housing association, but they will be renovated in the spring of 2022.”
Puksu Room is not the only suburban restaurant in Helsinki that has decided to renovate and transform from a beer mug into a higher quality restaurant. For example, the Herttoniemi Dating Pub made a similar transition a few years ago and was so successful that it has expanded its facilities.
Salla Ahonen sees even a small trend in the situation, which Korona has only confirmed.
“People nowadays want to spend their time more and more often in the suburbs because they don’t want to bother to go downtown first and thus queue for taxis to return home. Corona time has also taught people to stay at home. ”
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