Christmas centres around two things for me, family and food – this year we aren’t able to spend it with family, but that doesn’t mean we’ll skip out on festivities, or the food! Seeing as it will be just me and my partner and puppy it seems a bit silly (and time consuming and will create far too many dishes) to cook up a big festive feast. But thankfully we don’t have to, we can enjoy a Christmas meal with all the traditional Finnish delicacies without any washing up!
Every year a few select restaurants stay open to make sure travellers can enjoy a Finnish Christmas meal, but this year I know quite a lot of people that usually might have family to go to, be it internationally or even within Finland, are staying put as we all try and keep each other safe. I’m also pleased to know that restaurants around Helsinki are also taking measures to make sure we can enjoy all the Christmas food we’re craving while making restaurants as safe as possible too.
Now I just need to decide where to go. I’m sharing with you my shortlist in case you’re in need of inspiration if you’re staying in town too.
1. Brasserie Kämp
Brasserie Kämp, part of Hotel Kämp, has a street level restaurant and bar that looks out to Esplanade park. Housed in the lovely old Helsinki city district it is the perfect spot to watch the world go by on a winter’s day. It is open every day through the holidays and offers a few Christmas menus throughout December, including a 3-course lunch and a special Christmas afternoon tea with truffles and reindeer! On Christmas (Christmas eve and Christmas day) you can also take their 3-course Christmas menu featuring delectable meat and seafood options, or a full vegan offering.
2. Kuusi Palaa
Just across the road from Stockmann where you can enjoy their annual Christmas window display and all the lovely Christmas lights along Aleksanterinkatu, you’ll find the shiny new Marksi by Scandic and their restaurant Kuusi Palaa. ‘Kuusi Palaa’ is one of those great examples of the silliness of the Finnish language as it can mean no less than nine things, including the simple ‘six pieces’ to the devastating ‘your moon is on fire’. This is reflected in their menu where they take classic Finnish flavours and give a surprising new twist to traditional dishes. This sounds like a very fun place to experience a classic Finnish Christmas table with a buffet offering featuring herring, gravlax salmon, reindeer, roasted root vegetables, wild mushrooms, and potatoes – but perhaps not quite as you might expect. You can find the menu here.
3. Krog Roba
Part of Hotel Lilla Roberts, Krog Roba is just around the corner from the Design Museum and the beautiful décor oozes old-school sophistication and class. Christmas at Krog Roba promises a meal that provides the best of both worlds, with an extensive starter and dessert buffet for an opportunity to taste as many of their festive modern Nordic dishes as you can possibly manage, and also a choice of main course that is served to the table. They also have alcoholic and non-alcoholic glöggi available to complete the jolly holiday feeling!
4. Ravintola Sunn
Looking out over Senate Square, Restaurant Sunn is perfectly placed to admire the iconic Christmas markets and against the backdrop of Helsinki Cathedral. The only thing to distract from this amazing view will be their flavourful and always beautifully presented food. Sunn is open every day of the year, including over the holiday season and has a menu for every occasion. Their Christmas menu will be served on 24 and 25 December and offers a great selection for both carnivores and herbivores (special diets require prior notice). I would be particularly inclined to have a few rounds of their dessert table which includes panna cotta with lemon and pecan crumble alongside cardamom brownies and cranberry mousse!
Tucked around the back of City Centre, Zetor is the place to go if you would like to have a fully immersive Finnish experience surrounded by Finnish paraphernalia that will transport you to an eclectic old cabin in Lapland. This restaurant is fun, if a bit chintzy, and offers a more relaxed and affordable option (For S-Etukortti card holders it will be just €39.00 for their Christmas menu). It’s worth noting here that they offer their Christmas menu for groups only, a minimum of 4 people, and must be ordered ahead. Although they will also have an a la carte menu available if you want to be more spontaneous. More details on their website.
Wherever you choose to spend your Christmas we hope that it is merry and bright. Most importantly we wish you good health, let’s look after each other and follow the guidelines, cancel your booking if you feel unwell, and celebrate with lots of (distanced) Christmas cheer. This year hasn’t been anything like what most of us had planned or anticipated, but we hope you can enjoy the holidays, and if nothing else, enjoy a delicious meal to bring joy to the tastebuds!