Elite, Kosmos and Ateljé Finne, known as artists’ haunts, have a tradition as places for artists and people who want to enjoy good food in an artsy atmosphere.
The story of Elite begins in 1932 when Ernst Mattas ran the place, where a colourful group of habitués met in the restaurant’s living room.
Soon Elite became a favourite of fascinating personalities like authors Mika and Satu Waltari, actor Sakari Halonen, painter Aimo Kanerva, the cultural and political commentator Matti Kurjensaari and the great Tauno Palo.
Elite’s many famous paintings from the private collection of the Mattas family reveal the love for art in the environment. These go well with the onion steak, Tauno Palo’s favourite dish, which has been faithfully kept on the menu.
Kosmos: international Finnish cuisine
Being popular among artists, architects and businessmen, one can find the casual atmosphere with no background music relaxing and appropriate for a good conversation. The unique interior dates back to 1924.
Teodor Lindfors established the Kosmos dining rooms during the time when prohibition existed in Finland. The easing of the Great Depression ushered in a new era in which Vladimirinkatu was replaced with the more patriotic Kalevankatu. The Swedish name Lindfors was fashionably translated into the Finnish Hepolampi when 1932 brought the repeal of prohibition.
Aino Hepolampi took charge of Kosmos in 1932. “Her own interest in art influenced the atmosphere,” says Irina Hepolampi, who nowadays runs the family restaurant.
Kosmos is today run by the third generation of the family. The Winter War (1939-40) and Continuation War (1941-1944) first brought an end to coffee, then beer, and the frugal meals served for coupons were rationed to the gram. After the war, the favourites of the menu – escalope of veal á la Oscar, pork chop Robert and fried salmon with tartar sauce – gradually came to be shared with international newcomers such as paella, chop suey and cannelloni.
Eteläinen Hesperiankatu 22
Pike perch à la Aki Kaurismäki
Being an Aki Kaurismäki fan I found it very interesting that he has made the pike perch a popular dish at the time of ordering. “Kaurismäki says that Kosmos is his spiritual home,” Hepolampi says.
As a family restaurant Kosmos treats the customers in a special and personalised way. “We know our frequent customers by name and we know what they like to eat and drink,” says Hepolampi.
Ateljé Finne: A friendly and artsy place
Even though the building dates to 1922, the friendly atmosphere and staff combined with the magnificent pieces of art make Ateljé Finne a young place ideal to dine in the company of good friends.
Being originally the centre of inspiration and work for the Finnish sculptor Gunnar Finne (1886-1952), the studio, now transformed into an art gallery, has delighted the palates of many with good Finnish food and French wines.
Since the opening in June 2007 by Antto Melasniemi and Heikki Purnonen, two young Finnish chefs who used to work in London, Atel- jé Finne has followed a food philosophy that can be linked to the spirit of art that is present on the walls. “The chefs are strict about using only Finnish ingredients and organic food,” says manager Maija Ijäs. “This links to Finne’s works as he was a naturalistic person and patriotic of Finnish design.”
Popular among the design crowd, interior designers have their special place in Atel- jé Finne and it is easy to see why. “Design, fashion and art are all combined,” says Ijäs. “Music, art and design are all present here.”
Finnish ingredients & French wine
The menu is changed four or five times a year, based on the season’s best ingredients. For this autumn Ijäs recommends Finnish mushrooms and sea fish. A berry salad or a blackcurrant mousse is certainly a good dessert after the meal. All the wines on the list are from Europe, with rare French wines as the favourites.
“We want to keep the service and the dinner experience as casual as possible, serving people well while being strict about the ingredients. It is a combination that is rare to find,” says Ijäs. Ateljé Finne is a warm, inviting place, definitely a place worth trying.
Susan Fourtane – HT
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