What initially drew me to the Finnish Bistro was the almond kringler. We had stopped by for dessert after dinner at nearby Muffuletta, and everything in the glass case of cakes, pastries, and cookies looked good. However, since the almond kringler was labeled as the bistro’s signature item, I had to order it. The kringler is a rectangle of almondy goodness, with a rich sugar cookie, butter cream icing flavored with almond extract, and a generous sprinkling of sliced almonds. After my delicious experience, I found myself wheedling my companions into stopping at the Finnish Bistro for dessert whenever I was in the neighborhood, which isn’t that hard since Mike and my sister Rachel love cookies even more than I do.
But the Finnish Bistro offers a full menu in addition to dessert, and the savory offerings are just as tasty as the cookies in the dessert case. Despite the bistro’s Finnish moniker, the eclectic menu features a mixture of cuisines, including American-style breakfast all day options, quiche, a walnut burger with hummus, a lamb gyro, fish tacos, and flat bread pizzas, in addition to Scandinavian specialties like French toast made with Finnish pulla bread and reindeer sausage. During the weekend breakfast and lunch rush, seating at the Finnish Bistro is limited (particularly if you have larger dining party), so if the weather is nice the large patio tables on the sidewalk outside are the best option.
Since I was in the mood for something Scandinavian, I ordered the salmon lefse. As a novice lefse maker, I was most impressed with the lefse itself, rolled so thinly it was almost translucent. The lefse was delicately folded around a mixture of salmon, red peppers, onions, and spinach. The salmon was grilled to moist, flavor-packed perfection and was nicely complemented by the sweetness of the red peppers. The house-made cucumber dill sauce, served on the side, added a nice herby punch to the dish.
Mike opted for the Hungry Finn flatbread pizza, topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, mozzarella, Parmesan, and blue cheese. Although thin, the crust was able to stand up to the the weight of all the ingredients, and the combination of topping was well-balanced. The best bites were those with a tangy crumble of blue cheese, which added a burst of extra flavor.
For dessert, we both branched out from the classic almond kringler. Mike got a massive seven-layer bar that would do any church potluck table proud, and I had a lovely coconut macaroon, pleasantly soft and dipped in a thin layer of dark chocolate.
Whether you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth or a more substantial cafe style meal, the Finnish Bistro is worth a stop.
★★★½ out of 5 (recommended)
If you go:
The Finnish Bistro
2264 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108