Le Bistrot

It’s saturday so I have a chance to visit this second french getaway in Helsinki. On weekdays it’s mainly for people who doesn’t work 9-5, unless they come for lunch. Nothing wrong with coming for lunch, the smell is butterly divine. But I’m here for breakfast and I’m longing for a coffee. A moment of trouble. I don’t see any rye bread or other sandwiches for that matter. I know this i french but I love my sandwiches, and I really don’t even want to help it. The frenchman behind the counter sees my despair and suggests he makes me a baguette the french way. He tells me not to worry. I see no reason to resist.

Some seconds later I sit on the sofa beside the window looking out over the light and peaceful space. First he brings me my latte, a moment later I get a half baguette filled with salad, ham and cheese. I like it the french way but I’m glad I’ve had my morning run. It’s huge. The latte is really good. Next week they’ll have soya milk he promised. And yessss, they understand the importance of bringing a small chocolate with every coffee. Very much appreciated.

I sit for hours, read, write, eavesdrop and allow my self another coffee to be able to dream fully. Meanwhile people pop in for a freshly baked bread from Frambois bakery or take some croissants to enjoy at the breakfast table in a Munkkiniemi home. Coffee and chocolate cake seems to be another winner. The owner couple are so hearty to them all and french words are all over. Does everybody in Munkkiniemi speak french? Around the tables they all seem so pleased. They plan family life and a trip to the Espoo woods. A father lectures his grown up daughter and then it’s Nokia strategy conversations on the phone. All equally important. This is Café Bistrot.

Coffee 1, 80 €
Latte 3,60 €
Filled half baguette 6,50 €
Yummy breads from Frambois 2,50-3,90 €
Lunch + pastry + coffee 13,20€

Fiilis 7,8

@Laajalahdentie 17, Next door to famous Ukkomunkki. From the end of Munkkiniemen Puistotie turn right and walk 100 m up.
Open mon-fri 9-17, saturday 9-15, sunday closed




Small brekkie at CrustumI wish I lived upstairs. I would get dressed so fast each morning and run down to this wonderful lady behind her counter full of rolls. Rolls covered with seeds of sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and poppy. And goodies of course. Chocolates. It’s a bakery, just like in Austria. And a café so inviting. We are in the hipper part of Helsinki and we listen to german radio. Even the coolest of inhabitants have no choice but to relax and put down their gard. I travel back to my year in the alps.

I wish I was hungrier, then I’d take the breakfast buffet. Delicious bread, vegetables, cheeses, hams, muesli and yoghurt, juices of orange and blood orange. But today the small breakfast is the perfect way to go. I choose a pumpkin seed roll with gouda and ham, an orange juice that is thicker than water and tasty black coffee. Sit down, she says, I’ll bring it over. Kind Helsinki.

Here we have a warm person behind the counter, chatting with everyone that drops in for indulgence. And the door keeps opening. The open space is fresh and not too big. The food is handled with gentle precision. It’s all so real and warm and it’s all smiles. Come all ready.

But don’t come on mondays, you’ll be standing outside the door feeling cold and wondering where to go when nothing around seems nearly as tempting. I’ve tried.

Coffee 2 €
Latte 3,50 €
Filled rolls  3,60-4 €
Small breakfast 6,40 €
Breakfast buffet 8, 50 € on weekdays, 15 € on weekends
Lunch is served between 11-14, soups, salads, quiches 7-8,50 €

Fiilis: 8,5

@ Pursimiehenkatu 7, near Viiskulma
Open tue-fri 7-18, weekends 8-18. Closed on mondays.

(Also comes in a smaller version at Topeliuksenkatu near Töölön tori. Not tried yet.)


Aschan Café Jugend

I love the feeling when I enter this vault. It’s so different and decorated. Like funky sounds and furniture in a church. It’s definitely not small and cosy but it’s open, fresh and dramatically soothing. I think I could stay for ever.

I got a latte and a rye bread the way I wanted it; fresh with cheese and salad. Soy milk they didn’t have but I don’t really mind, it’s not needed everywhere. They have a lot of goodies, bakeries, pastries and eye catching truffles with lingonberry.

Aschan brews it’s own coffee but the taste of the long black does not fit my mouth perfectly. A barista would probably use a different word but I think irony. Ironic how you think this coffee served in this beautiful Tonfisk mug must be so good and then it’s not really that great.

They have brekkie menus for very reasonable prices, considering that every tourist in Helsinki probably sets their feet on the pavement outside. My smoothie tastes good but is served from a plastic cup which I do mind. One business menu for the guy in the grey suit sitting with his laptop; latte, croissant and marmalade. He eats so fast.

The music is nice and calm. I really don’t wanna go. Various interesting european magazines lie on two tables, serving foodies and friends of culture. They really don’t want to let you go. I indulge a while in Livets Goda a swedish magazine that takes me to the french vineyards. I walk around in the garden of my yellow castle. Then I realize I should have been at the office already. The tables have been filled up with properly dressed people. I really need to go.

On the way out I take a look at the small shop selling chocolates, NOMU spices, Tonfisk mugs and other stuff. Then I go.

Normal coffee 2,50 €
Latte 4, 20 €
Sandwhich 4,80 €
Lunch is served between 11-14

Fiilis: 8

Open weekdays 8–22, saturdays 10–22 , sundays 11–20
@ Pohjoisesplanadi 19, next door to the Tourist Information


Max’s Café

The first snow has fallen and Munkkiniemi avenue feels empty and white. A smell of fresh baking is filling the crisp air. Max is welcoming me with candles and open doors. To go inside feels like the only right thing to do.

I’m not the first one to arrive but there is still a window seat left for me. Everyone want’s a window seat. Once two ladies got ugly over who’s jacket had landed on the chair first. Another time two ladies ended up sharing that same table. That’s Munkkiniemi ladies, all witches and darlings.

The girl behind the counter is sweet and gives me the exact welcoming smile I want at 7 in the morning. I order a latte and rye bread with cheese. Usually it’s hard to choose, Max’s sandwiches come in many varieties. Egg, ham and cheese (meaning Edam), mozzarella, chicken, anchovy, tuna… on one slice of bread or between two, ciabatta, rye or whole wheat. The Karelian pie looks homemade and is served with plenty of egg butter. The croissants are yammy, that I know. Today the nice girl has been busy serving customers and is a bit late with the making. I can taste it in my coffee as well. It’s made with a single shot from a pad but I know I have have been served better coffees here before. Or have I? Better stick with the black cup, I think for myself. A loyal customer walks in and without a word she makes him his special sandwich.

The cakes look deliciously home made. More tasty than fancy. It’s like the place it self; sweet and cosy in a 90’s kind of way. But it works, I wouldn’t want to have it the trendy way. Let time stand still for many years to come, it’s running fast enough elsewhere. And the everyday guests keep coming back, each morning. Take away youngsters, brekkie-in-5-minutes-dads, latte women and the working men who fuel themselves with coffee and a cinnamon roll to begin with. Max is for everyone.

A large cup of coffee 1,90 €
Latte 2,70 €
Sandwiches 2,60 – 3,60 €
Karelian pie 1,80 €
Serves salad and soup for lunch around 7 €

Fiilis 8,5

Open weekdays from 7-17.30, saturday 9-16, sunday 10-15
@ Munkkiniemen Puistotie 7, tram number 4 takes you here

La Torrefazione Café & Roastery

Could this be a new favorite, I wondered? I had passed by a few times, never in a mood for coffee. Until now. It was before 8 and I took myself up the stairs.

Two empty rooms I found. Accompanied by a soy latte and a ciabatta I sat down by the window. I sat there watching down at the Mac People Store, the fancy jewelry shop and the dark coats passing, thinking is this really nice or just plain nice. The coffee was good, really good. The ciabatta too hard to handle for breakkie – the bread for the teeth and the filling for the stomich. The coffee is by Kaffa and Kaffa knows their coffee. The bread business needs to be experienced once more as well as the more encompassing breakfast platters they serve. I tried to have a sneak peak with little success. But I did follow another girl thoroughly examining her friends platter while the friend was getting water. She had chosen the same ciabatta as I, with parma and mozzarella. Was she jealous or content?! Finnish people need to start showing more expressions on their face.

The place was nice and they serve good stuff. For being where it is, at the heart of Helsinki’s shopping, business and commercial system, it’s brilliant. Was it the interior? or was it stiff? Had the the authenticity left for vacation? or was it just me? To be discovered…

Today’s coffee 2,50 €
Espresso 2 €
Latte 3,80 €
Filled ciabattas 5,50 – 6 €
Breakfast menus 11-13 €
Lunch around 10 €

Fiilis 7

Open weekdays 7.30-20, saturday 9-19, sunday 11.30-17.30
@ Alexanterinkatu 50, closer to Stockmann than the other end

Cafe du Coin

Step inside

I walk in to this small place where the old bike is parked outside. The candle is casting a warm light on the wet streets of Helsinki. Inside it is small, a bit messy but warm. A cute lady welcomes me, is she russian, I’m not sure. I order a latte, two shots espresso she asks me, I nod. I’m hungry for breakfast so I order a rye bread too. I could have chosen a ciabatta, but I’m finnish and I love rye. She let’s me choose between the fillings, seven different, all southern european. Pesto, goat cheese, grilled vegetables, ham etc.

I sit down beside the window. I am the only one there. I watch the business dressed people walk by to the law firms and ministries around. I am not jealous. I have taken myself time. I hear her making my coffee, and how she puts the spoon on the plate. Here it comes, I hear her foot steps.

Now, before me I have my latte and rye bread filled with pesto, cheese and prosciutto. I am not sad she didn’t have soy milk, this coffee is delicious. There is no space, she says. The pesto bubbles up from the holes in the rye bread, it’s crunchy and tasty. It is easy to smile.

She continues to do her things, wash the dishes to the sound of Yann Tiersen and Edith Piaf. She drops the pan or something with a loud noice and mumbles anteeksi -I’m sorry, to the pan more than to me. It’s cute. For a moment I’m in Paris.

The moment ends with one of the business dressed ladies coming in shouting in her mobile. She orders a croissant and a latte in between and takes her voice back out again with the coffee to go. I have had my enjoyable moment, it is time for me to leave as well. The lady is busy preparing lunch as I shout my good bye. She smiles and wishes me a good day. I wish I could come here for lunch. The smell is just so right. Soon.

In Cafe du Coin there is no place for unnecessary things.

Coffee 2 €
Espresso 2 €
Latte with 2 shots espresso & filled rye bread/ciabatta 7,80 €
Cafe au lait & croissant with jam 6 €
Lunch: salads, soup and stew 7-10 € (also suitable for late lunchers, served btw 11 – 16)

Fiilis 9 (Favourite)

@ Unioninkatu 26, when you walk down Esplanadi turn right before Havis Amanda
Open weekdays 8-16, saturdays 10-17, sundays only if you call in advance and order enough