Eat Like a Local
There is nothing quite so exciting as discovering a gem of a joint you never knew existed in some out-of-the-way place. Well maybe there is, but when the prices are more than reasonable, it gets your attention.
I jump on a metro and it takes me to Puotila where the half kilometre walk refreshes and sparks my appetite. It’s Sunday and it’s time for brunch at Puotilan Kartano, a manor house so beautiful on an estate with the prettiest stone chapel. No wonder couples want to get married there! Brunch consists of carefully thought out salads including a Caesar with a dressing that’s not seen the inside of a bottle, hot dishes that are plain but keep you salivating for the cheese board and scoop-your-own Mövenpick ice cream. Seated at an elegant table with a view that makes you ooh and ah even in the winter, €25 is more than good value. And a glass of bubbles only adds €5 onto that. They also serve lunch every weekday and an a la carte menu in the evenings and on Saturdays.
In an old-fashioned shopping centre, also in Puotila, about a hundred metres away from the metro station, there’s a funny little place called Comviet. The stream of customers just keeps on coming for take aways and sit ins from their limited menu of noodles and soup. The latter is my choice, filled to capacity with meat and a real authentic Vietnamese Pho broth that keeps on telling my tummy ‘No, you’re not full yet.’ Nothing over €10 in this no-frills eatery where alcohol has not seen the light of day. Not much on the internet to go by but I know they’re not open on Mondays.
Another metro and I get to Kontula, not the best part of town and a shopping centre where there is something like 11 bars in a tiny area. A real working persons’ hangout. But it’s not the bars I’m looking for, it’s Shish Kebab and it’s meaty heaven. All the right spices and accompaniments tell you that this is no dozen-a-dime take away like you’ll find all over the city. These guys are authentic and they put together a plate that’s worth the 30-minute metro ride from the city.
Closer to town in the ‘hills’ of Alppila, there’s Weeruska, a restaurant that’s been around for many years. Come hungry because you’re gonna be fed. If their blinis are anything to go by, something tells you the rest is pretty good and at an affordable price. By the time this story comes out, blini time will be a fond memory but that doesn’t mean that their burgers or meatballs with a creamy, Finnish hooch sauce will not step up to the plate. The morsel I had was better than I can make it.
Once more unto the breach to the other side of town! Lauttasaari is one of Kalle Pallander’s stomping grounds But even I can tell him where the best food is to be found. They’re busy, busy, busy at Casa Mare and there’s a good reason for that. The pizza is some of the best in town, the menu is designed to keep even the tiny tots happy and the atmosphere welcomes us all.
Back on public transport, this time Tram 4 takes you all the way to Munkkiniemi where the fabulous Restaurant Solna offers a full-on fine dining experience without the full-on prices. Three courses of divinely prepared dishes comes at €42 and includes such delicacies as Arctic Char with Remoulade Sauce or Lamb Neck with Chorizo Sausage and Lime Butter. Lunch sets you back a little less and is equally tasty. Impeccable service, by the way.
Pull on your boots and get going! It’s time for an odyssey of palate exploration in the areas where most of the locals eat and drink not only for convenience but also because they know the difference and they’ve discovered the pearls.