Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hietalahden Kauppahalli

Since March the 1st of this year the Old Market hall of Helsinki, one of the highlights for tourists, but also a good place to get some poro (reindeer) or a fish soup lunch, it is now closed for renovation. It will reopened only in 2014.

Helsinki couldn't stay that long without such a place (yes, we have also Hakaniemi Market hall), and the city had the great idea to give a new life to the Hietalahti Market hall, few tram stops away from the city main landmark: Stockmann.

Hietalahden Kauppahalli was for many years a place for expensive antique stores, and for a couple of restaurant, depending of the years and the season (lately it hosted a Greek restaurant, Knossos, and a small Thai booth).

The Market Hall is now 100% dedicated to its first aim: Food, in retail from or as lunch places.
As in most of the Market Hall you will find fresh vegetables, a Butcher corner, a fish stall, bakeries, coffee, and also many lunch options. Many of the sellers seem to have taken this removal as a new beginning and they do kick now!

We went around and found our old favourites like the soup place (Soppakeittiö, which you can find also in Hakaniemi Market hall) and fish sellers. If you are looking for a cup of coffee or some sandwiches, you will find some in here. There is even a place, which is specialized to make all kind of food of shrimps: there are skagens, jacket potatoes, shrimp cocktails etc.

For this first visit we sat down in the table of The Fish store called Marja Nätti. They proposed mussels, blinis and other sea food based dishes. We went for the blinis. Good honestly not too fat not too dry, but a bit pricy. And of course you can also buy your fish from there or other fish sellers and cook your meal at home.

In the neighbor booth you'll also find a sushi, oysters and some more fish. A butcher Roslund in the corner seems to serve amazing looking burgers (we'll have to try them next time) for example "Heppaburger", which means a real thing made of horse meat.

If you want you, can eat on the few tables next to these food kiosks, or take your order (or wait that it is served to you) upstairs where many table are set, but hardly available on Saturdays.

The place gets easily crowded, and the age of the building makes also the ventilation system from another era. It has some very good point, a mix of nice smells coming from everywhere around, making you graving for any food proposed there. On the other hand, your clothes may smells a bit after your visit, and we will have to see how it will be in the summer time when the hot days are here.
But the place looks very nice, renovated just as it needed, not too modernized, not too tacky (in the way it wants to look too much like a postcard), and most important this place simply has a good atmosphere.

We will definitely go back and write more about this place. We are now looking forward the summer as this place might become a hotspot of Helsinki's summer 2013. When the open air adjacent flea market will start again, we bet that many restaurants of the market hall will open a terrace on the Hietalahti Market square, which is by the way just along the sea.

Verdict: Even if it is a bit overpriced, it is a go!

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