An Unsung Star of the Nordic Culinary World
Helsinki really is an unsung food city. Copenhagen and Stockholm may get all the press for being Nordic cuisine centers, but the Finns just make it much more approachable. Whether it’s high-level, Michelin-rated establishments or just deli snacks, nothing is out of reach. After having some really amazing meals all over Finland, a friend decided to take us somewhere more “down-to-earth”: Pompier. He described it as an old firemen’s canteen/soup kitchen that had been open for almost 100 years. I became a bit worried that it was going to go in one of two directions: old and decrepit, or some terrible hipster version of Portlandia.
Pompier is neither. The interior has remained unchanged, with all the original Finnish wood walls and ceilings and the best coat-rack system (above)that I have seen in a long time. The menu is the same as it’s always been, but it has been kept fresh with seasonal, local ingredients. Favorites include split pea soup with smoked ham, pancake bread, pickled tomatoes, and fried herring. The place reminded me of Tujaque’s in New Orleans, where I grew up. The crowd is a mix of young and old, and just super-friendly.
Pompier will definitely be a part of my trip when I come back to Helsinki.
For more information, visit pompier.fi.