The Finnish capital is a paradise for produce and a locavore's dream. Discover the new culinary landscape that's making Helsinki proud of its playful and inventive approach to gastronomy. Finnish cuisine has come a long way in a short time. Only a decade ago, Silvio Berlusconi scoffed that the country had no place hosting the European Union’s food safety agency, since “Finns don’t even know what prosciutto is”. Today, Helsinki is a leading trend-setter on the Scandinavian dining scene. These are a few of our favorites for an inspiring dinner.
Country bumpkins do it better
The brainchild of quirky Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, Zetor is an eccentric restaurant on Mannerheimintie. The modern glass exterior leads into a barn-style cavern furnished with tractors and farm tables. Cooking is hearty, with a focus on traditional dishes like the "logger's sandwich" with pork escalope, country salad with bacon and boiled potatoes, and Karelinian hot pot with lingonberries. Wash them down with local beers like Lapin Kulta and stick around after dinner - Zetor's bar is a local hot spot with live music and regular events.
Beer pairings at the local brewpub
With a vast selection of Finnish beers, Panimoravintola Bruuveri is a cozy hideaway from the bustle of trend-hunters at Kamppi, a stylish shopping center just moments from our Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Helsinki. Home-cooked bar snacks are the specialty here, including a selection of local sausages and a smoked reindeer sandwich. Be sure to sample their Belgian-style Dubbel, best paired with their classic house chocolate cake.
Yes, soup for you!
There's no cooler way to experience a city's culinary delights than by browsing one of its market halls. Head to Hakaniemen Kaupahalli, home to the original Soppakeittiö, a popular spot with locals for its cockle-warming bowlfuls of soup. Their highly flavorful take on bouillabaisse is a clear winner. Visit after the lunch rush to get a table - you'll want to take your time to soak up every last drop with the fresh bread made especially for the soup kitchen. They also offer takeout if you're keen to build a picnic from the rest of the food hall's offerings.
Modern Nordic cuisine
For a Michelin-starred dining experience, visit Restaurant Olo across from Helsinki's portside market square. Ideal for foodies, Olo offers modern Nordic cuisine at its best: daily menus combine traditional and innovative approaches to preparing local, seasonal ingredients including fresh Baltic seafood. Reserve a table in the courtyard and order the "Journey" menu with wine pairings to make the most of the experience.
Founded in 1935, Meat Shop Roslund is today helmed by the fourth generation of the Roslund family. While the butcher shop sells some of the city's finest meats, from Parma Ham to smoked reindeer, it's their Hietalahti Market Hall restaurant that's really worth a visit. Serving steaks, burgers and pulled pork piled with cheese, pickles and coleslaw on top, their juicy offerings are best paired with frites - sure, they offer salad, but why spoil a good thing?