Oh, man...I didn't eat a single decent bite during my week there (I played at the Pori jazz festival in about 1989). My clearest memory was trying desperately to find a meal for under $20 (I was particularly broke in those days), and wound up in a place--written up in a guidebook--that was the subterranean snack bar of some technial college in Helsinki. Had an awful hamburger, waxy fries and a beer for like $19. Scandinavia is soooo expensive (on the same trip, two friends had to chip in with me to split a single cookie in Stockholm)....at least it was in 1989. Idunno, maybe it's better these days.
Also make sure you're not gonna be there in mosquito season. I arrived just after, and everyone was covered with these enormous welts.
Sorry to be a downer...you may well do better than me, I was with 20 non-chowhound musicians so I didn't have
total freedom to scout
AS USUAL, I AM LATE IN SEEING WHATS POSTED BUT.. ANYONE GOING TO HELSINKI IS ADVISED TO TRY rAVINTOLA kANAVARANTA @ 3 e +f kANAVARANTA. NOT FAR FROM THE hARBOR mARKET, RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER FROM THE BIG CHURCH. THIS IS A GOOD PLACE TO EAT, PRICE FIXED DINNER W/WINE WAS EXTREMELY REASONABLE ESPECIALLY FOR FINLAND, GOOD FOOD, NICE FOLKS, NOT CHEAP THOUGH. BUT..NOT THE MOST EXPENSIVE IN TOWN EITHER.
I hope this isn't too late. I haven't been to Finland but read these are the tops for Helsinki. My boyfriend (a Finn) confirmed that he had heard that Kanavaranta is excellent.
-Kartano (seafood, Simonkatu 6, 358-9-586-0701)
-Pulp (chef Samu Koskinen from Aquavit in Manhattan, Mannerheiminaukio 3, 358-9-684-4290)
-Kanavaranta (country's 1st Michelin star chef, Kanavaranta 7E, 358-9-622-2633)
These almost a decade old "Helsinki comments" need an update,
so here it goes:
The HELSINKI DINING SCENE ROCKS! Helsinki has many, many
excellent restaurants - large and small, formal & casual - including some
that have been awarded with “Michelin stars” & so called Michelin “rising
stars” & Bib Gourmand mentions - several years in a row. (Not that
I really care about Michelin stars, I often disagree with them).
Numerous Finnish chefs are super talented and, while
internationally trained and experienced, as a general trend (in all of
Scandinavia), have the so-called “New Nordic Cuisine” as their guideline.
(Clean lines, local ingredients, etc, etc)
I can see that no one has inquired about Helsinki in years, but just in case,
if someone is interested, I will include this non-commercial Helsinki link:
This site includes 3 pages of Helsinki Restaurant "reviews", some with
photos. Even if some of the reviews are a few years old, they still stand.
There are links to all the restaurants, and links to other restaurant lists.
The site also provides other very useful Helsinki info, on it’s other pages.
BTW, “Jim Leff”; already in 1989 Helsinki had MANY excellent restaurants,
and - even though Helsinki has never been a cheap destination - not all
of them were expensive, especially considering the exchange rate back
(Now the exchange rate is abysmal for us Americans who need to buy Euros.)
You just had bad luck. My husband and I enjoyed many good meals in
Helsinki back then (1989-1990).
As we have throughout all these years, during our vacations in Finland.
The food scene has gotten better and better, and one of the reasons we
go there, is the food.
Unfortunately, because of the current exchange rate we have not been
back for a few years, but are planning to go in the near future. We love
(*) Actually, the exchange rate in 1999 and early 2000’s almost made it
a “cheap” (reasonably priced) destination: Once we had reason to celebrate
big and so we decided to splurge on a 1990 Dom (shared by 4), in a restaurant.
The champagne cost us $90 !!! In a restaurant! Actually this happened at
Kanavaranta, the restaurant that 2 people recommended above. As I stated,
Kanavaranta closed and was replaced by Nokka, which we have enjoyed a lot.
Maybe at another time, I will list our favorite Helsinki restaurants.