The best time of year is Blini season! January marks the month that Bliniviikot are all around the city, which means many wonderful restaurants have the wonderfully buttery Russian delicacy on their menus. The Finnish interpretation is made with buckwheat flour and baked in a cast-iron pan until crisp and sinful, and is served with a variety of different toppings, along the sides of smetana, red onions and pickles.
Helsinki has a bunch of really special hotels, and the newest addition to those is the Lapland Hotel Bulevardi that just opened in early 2019 – and it brings, as the same says, a piece of Finnish Lapland to the Capital. Using the heritage of the North to create a unique design experience is really quite the undertaking, and they succeeded magnificently. The care for detail prevails and it really is not just staying over at a hotel to have a place to stay, but a way to get a glimpse into Sami culture, in a way that feels natural and not kitschy at all.
Where one should stay when in Helsinki is probably one of my most-asked questions. I have family coming over, one of them being a history teacher – so I wanted to recommend a place that has a story to tell. There are countless possibilities and places, kinds of accommodation, and what kind of place feels best is something so subjective. What’s undeniable though is that there are not all that many places that have a lot of character to them, hotels can often be generic and pragmatic, but often lack charm and uniqueness – but the Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna is different. Opened in the 50s for the Olympic Games in Helsinki, it still managed to retain the vibes from the era, even after the extensive renovations they just concluded.
I have to admit that I didn’t have a clear idea of Filipino food, I’ve tasted it before but I knew very little about it. Pobre is the only full-service Filipino restaurant in Helsinki, and it is part of the Kampin Korttelit restaurant floor. They recently invited me and my dear friend Alex to taste our way through their menu to share their love for food and Filipino culture. And oh boy was it a food fest!
Often, if you ask for a mocktail at a bar, you get two boxed juices put together, add a bit of lemon and a fancy straw and they be done with it. Which is a shame, because with fresh herbs, juices and fruit, creating a delicious alternative to a traditional cocktail, isn’t that hard. And you don’t necessarily always feel like drinking water or a grossly sweet soft drink when you’re out with friends – no matter if you generally drink or not. At the very much underrated American Bar in the Torni hotel, you can not only order fresh and seasonal mocktails – I was invited to join a small group to try their alcohol-free options and learn how to recreate them at home.
While Helsinki is a fairly easy place to get things done on Sundays, with generous opening hours and few bits of town actually closing down, it can be a bit of an annoying endeavour to find restaurants and bars for some drinks on a Sunday evening. And while it may not be the most obvious place for either, sometimes you have visitors, guests or something to celebrate that will have you venture out on a Sunday night – so here’s a summary of the best places open for business.