Helsinki Food Scene

We ate very well in Helsinki and were impressed with the options, though I’d say it’s well worth doing a little research before you go. We were there in July which is rather a strange month as many of the locals head out of town for the summer and quite a number of good restaurants were closed for the month. I guess somewhere else in Finland it’s busy, can all these people really have out of town cottages? Apparently they do!

On the first night we ate at Hoku a downtown  restaurant not far from our hotel, pictures above. It’s a small place and very popular locally so it’s best to call in advance. recommended for good food in a casual atmosphere.The  owner is a Hawaiian chef who brings his Asian/Pacific Rim spin to local ingredients. Given the freshness of the seafood in Helsinki,  the poke was particularly good - fresh, beautiful and tasty. The poke is pictured at the top of the post, as you can see it looks wonderfully appetizing. 

One of our favorite meals was at an interesting modern Finnish restaurant Juuri, photos above and below. The food was extremely interesting and incredibly varied. They specialize in small plates which makes for a real variety of flavors and presentations. We met a couple of hip locals who said it was one of their favorite places and it’s certainly distinctive, interesting and delicious. This is somewhere I’d return to if we went back to Helsinki.
Juuri is a hip, elegant restaurant with a good wine list and relaxed modern service. The food seemed very seasonal and was beautifully presented. The "sapas" or "small plates" are the heart of the menu but vary in size and some are just a bite or two.  They also offer main courses , which  you can see are just as beautifully presented below.
I loved the petit fours too.
The most traditional meal we had was at Wellamo a highly recommended Russian restaurant in a lovely residential neighborhood overlooking the water.The place was quite modestly decorated and very reasonably priced. I had a fish soup and D had lamb pelicans, a dumpling dish served with a mushroom sauce. The food was traditional but very well done, fresh, local and flavorful, recommended.
 There are so many lovely views in Helsinki that it's hard to choose between them but I have to say I loved sitting in a deck chair and watching the yachts go by at Mattolaituri cafe which is a little outside the center of town.
 The Finns are very low key and people don't stand out in the way they dress, but you can tell by the astronomical prices and the free flowing champagne that this is a place for the wealthy. On a Sunday afternoon it was bliss to sit with the locals and enjoy the resorty atmosphere, who could resist a glass of rose?
We walked back into town along the coastal footpath, it's just lovely to look out at all the small islands. I wouldn't describe Helsinki as a major European culinary destination, though there were several much fancier restaurants we didn't visit and as I mentioned above quite a number of places are closed in July. However, you can eat very well here, the cuisine is distinctive and they have excellent fish.