I didn’t think Finland would rate very high in the food department, but having spent a few days in its Capital Helsinki, I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised. There is any type of food imaginable here, from traditional reindeer dished to sushi burritos. Finnish food is wholesome, seasonal locally inspired with the odd modern twist on tradition.Here is my list of my 5 favourite places to eat and drink in Helsinki.
I’m going to start with something a little bold. Helsinki’s Oldest Bakery dates from 1852 and has been run by generations of the Ekberg family. This traditional bakery and café serves cakes, chocolate and sandwiches, but who would bother with a sandwich when they have seen the vast array of delicious confectionary?
I opted for custard and almond tart which was divine and a strawberry cheesecake for Himself got a similar reaction. I also tried one of their champagne cakes and while I like champagne and I like cake, the combination was not quite right for me.
Still I would definitely recommend a visit to this beautiful bakery to try some of the delicacies at a very reasonable price.
So if you’ve indulged in cake for breakfast (not to be advised). You will probably looking for something more wholesome for lunch. The Helsinki markets are a packed full of quirky souvenirs, handcrafted gifts and of course, traditional food.
If you take a trip to the market square, make sure you come hungry! The markets open from 8am to 4pm and the food was so good, we actually ate there twice. On one occasion, having escaped the rain I was comforted by some creamy salmon soup and delicious Finnish bread.
The other time I was a bit more adventurous and scoffed some Moose meatballs, with a fried egg and chips! I would liken this feast to a Finnish Mixed Grill. It was far too much for one person to eat, so sharing is caring with this dish. Also available at the street market is some delicious-looking reindeer sausage and for the less adventurous, you can always get a slice of pizza!
Traditional Lapland Food
Having skipped on the reindeer sausage at lunch, the curiosity was still getting to me. So we found Lappi Ravintola restaurant facing the Helsinki cathedral. This was one of the more expensive, but casual restaurants and a menu which covered all areas of Finland. I went for reindeer meat on a bed of mashed potatoes and some berries.
The staff whizzed around in traditional dress and served smoked bear meat and wholesome rice pudding dishes. Although a little pricey, it was definitely something to experience while visiting Finland.
So after breakfast, lunch and dinner are sorted, it is time to wash it all down with some cocktails. We made our way to the Hotel Torni, a deceiving little Hotel with a big wow factor. From the 14th floor of this tower you can take in a 360 degree view of Helsinki’s skyline while enjoying crisp (but expensive) cocktails inspired by the Finnish artist Alvar Alto. As well as catching an impressive sunset, make sure you drop into their toilet for the most impressive bathroom view you have ever seen!
Top secret last orders
After sunset, you might want to sneak off to somewhere a little more private. Where better than the Trillby and Chadwick detective agency – a top secret bar located close to the Market Square. This super-cool former detective agency turned speakeasy is as quirky as it is fun to find. It is so secret in fact, that you cannot take pictures or leave by the front door. The staff will sit beside your table and whisper the menu to you and you will enjoy a wonderful experience just reading about the rich history of the former law enforcement agency.
There you have it, just a quick taste of some of the fun, tasty and quirky places to eat and drink in Helsinki.