There’s been a bit of a fuss over Lidl’s decision to sell reindeer meat this Christmas, but the discount supermarket isn’t the only place to sell roast Rudolph.
Tënu launched in Soho this week, on the site that was previously One Leicester Street restaurant. It is brought to us by Finnish duo Antto Melasniemi and Klaus Haapaniemi, and will be around until New Year’s Eve.
Melasniemi is a well-known chef in Finland with three successful restaurants in Helsinki, while Haapaniemi is an artist — you can see some of his work here. Together they also run the travelling Nordic restaurant and design event HelYes!, which came to Hoxton as part of the London Design Festival back in 2010.
Expect Tënu to feature “a backdrop of mythical landscapes with strange creatures” inspired by Finnish folklore drawn by Haapaniemi, alongside dishes based around the ingredients of Eastern Finland cooked by Melasniemi.
A mix of small and slightly larger plates are designed to be shared at the table tapas-style, with no separation between starters and mains. The menu will change throughout the month, but currently includes: a creamy salmon broth with allspice and dill; wild sea bass tartare with saaristolaisleipä (that’s a kind of Finnish rye bread); cold-smoked pike with buckwheat pancakes; foraged mushroom dumplings with sour cream; and a reindeer fillet with beetroot. Puddings include a plum tart and burnt liquorice cream.
Speaking of his cooking style, Melasniemi says: “'I try to strip myself from anything unnecessary and let serendipity rule. I embrace natural chaos”. From the look of his restaurant menus, this can be loosely interpreted as unfussy food with lots of foraged ingredients.
Reindeer meat is relatively common in Finland and across Scandinavia, and there is no reason to assume it is brought to the table in any less ethical a way than other meats are. It will be interesting to see if the animal welfare campaigners who were quick to brand Lidl’s decision to sell the meat a “sick novelty” will be similarly vocal about Tënu.
Small dishes range from £7.90 - £12.50 and larger ones £14.50 - £22.50. It is recommended to have a minimum of two to three dishes per person.
The drinks list focuses on natural wines, while the pair behind the restaurant have also created Tënu gin, which is distilled in Helsinki using wild botanicals.
Tënu is open now for dinner only and will be serving every day up to 31 December with the exception of Crimbo Day itself. After that, it is likely that work will begin on the site, which is due to re-open as a boutique hotel by March 2015.