Finland is celebrating a century of independence this year with everything from symphonies and contemporary-art exhibits to mobile saunas and massive snow castles. But the real reason to head to the easternmost Scandinavian country in 2017 is the food. Long overshadowed by the New Nordic heavyweights of Copenhagen and Stockholm, the Finnish capital of Helsinki has quietly had its own culinary awakening in recent years. Established restaurants like Chef & Sommelier (chefetsommelier.fi) and Ask (restaurantask.com) are starting to gain international recognition (and Michelin stars), while new spots such as Finnjävel (finnjavel.fi) are bringing innovation to the Nordic scene.
Opened last spring in a high-design setting, Finnjävel features the experimental dishes—liver casserole with lingonberries, hay-smoked perch—of co-chefs Tommi Tuominen and Henri Alén. Across town, on the southern tip of the Helsinki peninsula, diners are flocking to Löyly (loylyhelsinki.fi), where reindeer meatballs, seafood bakes, and other local dishes pair with a truly Finnish amenity: The restaurant is located within a bold new architectural landmark that houses three saunas and wooden decks overlooking the Gulf of Finland.
Promising to be the next culinary hot spot in Helsinki, chef Filip Langhoff’s Jord (restaurantjord.fi) was scheduled at press time to open in December as the bistro-style “little sister” to Ask. A highly anticipated sibling is also in the works on the hotel front: Opening this summer, the St. George (stgeorgehelsinki.com) is a 150-room property from the owners of Hotel Kämp (hotelkamp.com), Helsinki’s most opulent address.