The Most Romantic Bar in Helsinki: BasBas

IMG_4050Do you hope for candle light, lovely old brick walls and delicious food combined with trendy Helsinkian? Go to Bar BasBas & Stuff  – you have it all there! Last time I visited the place I saw some Finnish top politicians, Finnish celebrity chef and local movie star there as well as non-celebrity normal Helsinkians. Nearby there is also great restaurant called Baskeri & Basso which Anne has written before – however, this time I write about the bar.

At Bar BasBas you can of course enjoy variety of drinks (there is wide selection of wines available) but also eat, not total dinner but small plates. I promise if you order many of those, it is enough for dinner. Food is super delicious and interesting – many seasonal delicacies. My favourite plate is Avocado-fenkoli bruchetta, shown down left in pictures below. I realize that is not seasonal at all… There is also a picture of lamb tartar – that is also must try if in the menu!

 

 

Even I said this is the most romantic bar, it is also suitable for friends and groups of people. You can’t make reservation, just pop by. Popping by possibility is exactly the reason I am going to visit the place tomorrow – friend is coming to Helsinki and I want to have dinner with her. We haven’t booked a table since we believe we’ll find table in BasBas.

BasBas is situated in  the back corner of Punavuori, exact address is Tehtaankatu 27-29. It is maybe 1.5 kilometre walk from Railway Station – trams go nearby so check www.hsl.fi and find out easiest way to get there!

Anna

 

 

Day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo – strong recommendation

Strong recommendation for day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo, a second oldest city in Finland. Porvoo has beautiful old town with narrow streets and picturesque wooden houses. Just perfect place to stroll around and enjoy feeling of old times. Many small shops around offering handicrafts, antiquities, cloths and toys. Also many pretty and tasty coffees shops, restaurants and bars. There is also a church to visit – old cathedral build in 15th century. Town is so lovely, I got marred there years ago and  I always have this really special feeling when visiting!

A week ago I once again visited this lovely town. This time we had lunch in Fryysarinranta – lovely restaurant by the river. We enjoyed fresh summer buffet with different kind of fish and salads. I strongly recommend to taste their fish soup. In Fryysarinranta you can sit on a terrace by the river or inside in old wooden house (middle picture above from there). I also visited Cafe Paahtimo – I had glass of wine in their lovely terrace by the river.

I also recommend you to try Restaurant Meat District – newish restaurant in old lovely building in center of old town. There are many lovely places around and easily found when walking around old town.

 

How to get to Porvoo? Well, Porvoo is situated 50 kilometers from Helsinki and it is easily reachable by car, bus or even bike or boat. Buses to Porvoo leave in Helsinki from Kamppi terminal and it takes around one hour. Check bus schedule here. If you want to bike, it is good to know that there is biking path for most of the way. However, maybe 15-20 kilometers there is no special biking path but that part is easy and safe to bike as well. Finest way to travel is to take boat Runeberg. Boat takes 3.5 hours and you can enjoy Finnish archipelago while traveling. Finest day you’ll have if you take boat in the morning, then stay in Porvoo as long as you please and in the evening take bus back to Helsinki. Porvoo is a small town so no need to stay over for longer time – day is enough.

Anna

ps. There is maybe cutest toy store ever in Porvoo. It is called Riimikko (sign in below picture). Very strong recommendation! You can find Muumi postcards there as well as shown picture below.

The best views in Helsinki, part II

 

Last May I wrote about best views in Helsinki. Place for those views were Hotelli Torni’s Ateljee Bar. Now we have a new place here in Helsinki which is a bit upper – and still in the downtown. Place is called Sky Room of Hotel Clarion. It is in 16th floor – but definitely “the Sky Bar of Helsinki”. You see, Helsinki isn’t town of skyscrapers and there are great views from Sky Room!

Hotelli Torni is situated in Kamppi district – just something like 300 meters from Stockmann. New Skybar is a bit farer way – it is situated in Jätkäsaari – maybe 1.5 kilometres from Stockmann. Anyway it is so close I recommend a walk there one evening or afternoon when in Helsinki (and if you feel tired, just take tram 9 towards Länsisatama, tram stops just outside Clarion Hotel). When arriving to Clarion Hotel, go inside and take elevator up. Sky Room offers drinks and wine – also some snacks but it is not place for dinner. Sky Room opens 3 pm and kids are welcome until 6 pm.

tuomiokirkko-from-sky

Looking from Sky Room Helsinki looks almost metropolis – you see Helsinki downtown but also Espoo (which is town next to Helsinki) and lots of sea (hotel is situated next to sea). You also see motorways – the scenery is different than Torni. In Torni you see all great downtown buildings from close compared to broader view of Sky Room. Actually – you should do both: start from hotel Torni Ateljee Bar and then take 15 minutes walk to Clarion along Lönnrotinkatu (see lovely Ruttopuisto on the way as well as Hietalahdentori.) This way you have seen all what is even close to Sky Bar here in Helsinki! If I remember right cheapest wine was something like 8 euros per glass – well worth of scenery.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of Hotel Clarion outside but since it is like talles building in Helsinki downtown it is pretty easy to recognize:-)

Anna

 

Read also: Best views in Helsinki part 1 ››

Uisge 2017 — Helsinki Whiskey Festival is back in February

To savor some of the best whiskies around Living in HEL will be visiting the Uisge festival on 10 to 11 February 2017 — just like last year, and many a year before that.

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Traditionally, Uisge has been the “it” event for Finnish friends of all things whisky — Scotch, Irish, Bourbon, Rye, Japanese, Swedish, Finnish. But especially Single Malt lovers.

The atmosphere is always nice, and surprisingly non-commercial. And that’s saying a lot, when all the big brands are present. It’s not a big bash, more like a low key, very enjoyable event, a meeting of minds with a fantastic, laid-back atmosphere. Everybody’s here for one reason only – the love of Uisce Beatha.

A few whisk(e)y societies will also be present, including the Finnish Malt Whisky Society and the more elusive Friends of Irish Whiskey. If you’re looking to enjoy sampling superb whiskies later in the year, as well, both organize tastings, trips to distilleries and more — and will be looking for new members.

 


If you’re like us, do come early, come on Friday and bring along a friend. Also, a notepad to jot down your favorites is recommended, because this being Scandinavia, you wouldn’t be able to buy a bottle of your newest favorite even if you tried.

IMG_3433.JPGThe tastings also have a stellar reputation both taste-wise and information-wise. Enquire ahead at uisge2016(at)yahoo.com (mention you’re of age and want to have this information).

Tix are available here for 18€ per day. Smart money is on buying in advance, Uisge usually gets crowded so tickets may or may not be available at the door.

The price of the entry fee includes a custom-printed nosing glass and the sampling prices are more than reasonable, even for the rarest bottling. Ice water is complimentary, so you can clean your palate and glass in between sampling a drop of the pure.

Like we said last year, a night at Uisge is guaranteed to leave you smiling what with all the socializing, sampling and good-hearted stories — and the whiskey, of course.

 

Sláinte!

Venue & event links

 

ps. From what we know, bottlings, specials and vintage editions,  favorites old & new will be available from at least the following:
Aberlour, Ailsa Bay, Arran, Auchentoshan, Balblair, the Balvenie, Blackadder, Bowmore, Buffalo Trace, Bunnahabhain, Bushmills, Chivas Regal, The Compass Box, Cragganmore, Douglas LaingHunter Laing, Edradour, Four Roses, Glen Moray, Glen Scotia, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Glengoyne, Glengyle, the Glenlivet, Hart Brothers, Helsinki Distilling Company, Highland Park, Jameson, Jura, Kilchoman, Knob Creek, Kyrö Distillery, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Loch Lomond, Maker’s Mark, MidletonMortlach, Old Pulteney, Redbreast, Sazerac, Springbank, Talisker, Teerenpeli, Tobermory, Tullamore Dew, Valamo Monastery DistilleryThe Whisky Agency, and more… Some high quality rums will also  be available.

For a more complete and likely more up-to-the-minute list, see the Viskisieppo blog.

Try these mulled wine places in Helsinki

When winter arrives in Helsinki, it’s time to spend some time in candle light enjoying mulled wind, or as we call it glögi, with your friends and family. The tradition of drinking this warm, alcholic drink comes from 1800s and is nowadays mainly enjoyed around Christmas time.

From November onwards you can find several bars and restaurants in helsinki that serve glögi in its various formats: alcoholic, non-alcoholic, with red or white wine or even with a dash of vodka or brandy. The spices makes it special and most often you’ll find cinnamon, ginger, cloves, bitter orange peel or star anis in it.

Glögi is served with almonds and raisins and you can choose to add or leave them out depending on your preference.

Try some of the following places around Espa for warm glögi and cozy winter atmosphere.

Kappeli
Eteläesplanadi 1

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Strindberg
Pohjoisesplanadi 33

strindberg_helsinki

Salutorget Bar
Pohjoisesplanadi 15
(picture borrowed from Salutorget’s website)
salu_baari2015

Read next:
Christmas markets – Tuomaan markkinat. This year 3.-22.12.2016
Christmas pastries – see the video on how to make traditional Christmas stars

Shopping in Helsinki, Part II

Last time I wrote you about shopping around Punavuori area. This time I’ll concentrate on shopping in downtown Helsinki. Just for your information, there are malls in Kamppi (next to metro station) and Forum (in corner of Mannerheimintie and Simonkatu) – if you want to do really basic shopping, you can visit those. However, they are nothing special, so I am not concentrating on those.

As I wrote also last time – when you follow my recommendations for wondering around, I am sure you’ll find many interesting places on your own. I am just writing some of them and you’ll find the rest! I recommend to start shopping day in Café Esplanad at Pohjoisesplanadi 37. You can taste delicious “lohikeitto” (meaning fish soup made of salmon) or try maybe biggest “korvapuusti” (=baked rolls) in Helsinki. Café Esplanad is bit place so you can almost always find a place to sit down. It is also great place to sit for a longer time – I have been reading there many times for hours.

After enjoying offerings of Café Esplanad it is time to visit so small but sweet Ombrellino next to Café Esplanad. Ombrellino is the best place to find something for kids – no need to wonder around and try to find something  – just visit here. Lovely shopping assistant will help you if you don’t know what kids of certain age would like to have.

Next to Ombrellino you find clothing store Samuji. That is a Finnish label for women clothing and homeware. Clothing is not classic in my eyes but timeless and sustainable design. Visiting there you get to see one angle of Finnish modern design – I highly recommend!

After these stores it is best time for you to enjoy park Esplanad when finding you way to best place for Finnish handicrafts – Taito Helsky Shop. Many tourists go to Kauppatori to buy “something Finnish” – that is of course okay but way better place for something Finnish is Taito Helsky Shop at Eteläesplanadi 4. There is a wide selection of Finnish handicrafts – artisans have their collections there and Helsinkians and tourists can find what they need (and sometimes maybe don’t need but they are so lovely you just have to buy those…). I really love this shop – I’ve bought many things from there for myself as well as presents.

Finlayson is part of Finnish industrial history. My grandparents worked at the factory back in times. Nowadays they are almost “world famous” since they have these “Tom of Finland” duvet covers in their offering (unfortunately not on shop window this time). However, mostly Finlayson has very normal and everyday duvet covers, towels and fabrics. You find this very Finnish store at the address Eteläesplanadi 14.

finlayson-finnish-design

I wrote earlier that Finlayson is part of Finnish history. Surely Marimekko is as well, and when in Helsinki you HAVE to visit one of their stores. They sell for example clothing, bags and some homeware. Offering is very colourful from hippiestyle to suitable to office. There are many Marimekko stores in downtown but since I suggest to visit Stockmann afterwards, I recommend you Marimekko store at the address Aleksanterinkatu 50.

And as stated above, if you still need something after all shopping done (and you are not over your budget), I recommend to continue to Stockmann – Finland’s biggest and nicest department store next to this Marimekko store.

Feel like sitting down after all this? Perfect place for sitting down and tasting some good wine is Bar Vin-Vin found near Stockmann (but you need to cross Mannerheimintie) at Kalevankatu 6. There you find wide selection of wines and very expert people recommending you right flavour – perfect place for relaxing before evening dinner.

Anna

 

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New bar and bistro in Punavuori

The Old Skiffer

The Old Skiffer in Viiskulma

There’s a new bar in Punavuori in the corner of Pursimiehenkatu and Laivurinkatu. Or I’m not sure if you can call it new. According to Primula’s history  there’s been a bar at the same corner in Viiskulma from 1960’s and a café even longer from 1924. What’s new are the new owners who bought the legendary Restaurant Primula last summer and reopened it a couple of weeks ago under the name Uusi Primula (New Primula) and the Old Skiffer. The bar’s name is kind of a word game: the bar used to be called The Old Skipper’s and Skiffer also refers to the island Liuskasaari (Skifferholmen in Swedish) where the first Skiffer Restaurant was opened some years ago.

Uusi Primula bistro

New beginning at Primula

But that’s enough about the history! To celebrate the new beginning, Primula / The Old Skiffer had their official opening yesterday evening. The restaurant is pretty easygoing with stylishly laid-back atmosphere and contemporary bistro food. The interior design has maritime elements such as an old rowing boat in the ceiling and life jackets on the wall – not too much but just enough to make the bar interesting and more unique and different from the old bar and restaurant.

The Old Skiffer bar

Old life jackets on the wall

The bar was crowded yesterday evening so I just had quick drinks before heading home. I still need to try out the food and pizzas or liuska flatbread some other day.

I think the bar will attract creative crowd (since it’s situated close to many advertising agencies), trendy Punavuori clientele as well as the locals who have been coming there for years no matter who the owner is. Great local and a good addition to Viiskulma bars and restaurants!

Uusi Primula

Uusi Primula