The culinary scene in Tampere has over the last year been extended with a ravishing cocktail of new, high-quality restaurants to satisfy the guests. That means that we, as the Hungry For Tampere ambassadors, have been basically running from one restaurant to the next with our cameras and dictaphones, while wiping the earlier meals from the corner of our mouths on the way.
Since new hard-ball playing cafs keep rising from the renovation dust like portobellos after the rain, competition within the scene as well as the other restaurants is a given. This derby is like money in the bank for the customers in perpetual search for versatile and high-quality restaurant experiences – Tampere really is the place to eat and drink well. In this article, we are merely starting to scratch the surface on top of the new additions, which we now can genuinely and warmly recommend. Grab a taste!
Combining the Finnish nature and the Mediterranean vibes onto the same plate, Kajo is the fruit of the love for food by enthusiastic and innovative culinary magicians. Kajo’s founders are three food amigos – a kitchen wizard scooping ideas from the natural Finnish ingredients, a Mediterranean Michelin chef and a professional of smooth service, who together really bring on the big game.
In Kajo, ice cream made from the fresh pine sprout can be combined in the loveliest way with blood orange, or the pork neck can find smooth co-existence with “burnt” lemon. In this restaurant, the dishes are all meant to be shared with companions and there’s plenty to choose from. Every ingredient has its own story, as the origin of each component is known. At its best, the ingredients have actually been handpicked, foraged, grown or made by the restaurateurs themselves – sometimes even the wine, as your host of the evening himself has grown Riesling in Germany. The heart of Kajo’s kitchen is a genuine charcoal grill.
A local restaurant also for the local people was established in the neighbouring city of Tampere called Ylöjärvi, by a sommelière-chef couple. They wanted a restaurant where they would want to eat with their own kids. The name, Miss Ada, derives from the Hebrew word missada, which means “eating together”.
Ingredients, usually organic, from small and local producers are in versatile use in the restaurant. The primadonna of the kitchen, a pasta machine called Dolly, is in regular use. Next to Miss Ada’s kitchen lies a small bakery, so in this restaurant, combining bistro-type food with bakery products, even the pastries are always fresh from the oven.
Tulli Sauna is an urban neighbourhood sauna open to everyone, but it’s also a quality restaurant. This magnificent combination offers classy sauna premises, breakfast, lunch, brunch and high-quality à la carte meals. Oh, and beer too.
The food is made from simple components embodying the sauna theme with smoky flavours from the Finnish nature. The offerings vary according to the season and so does the menu, as it draws strongly from the Finnish ingredients. You can enjoy sauna, a meal, a beer or any combination of these at Tulli Sauna. If you decide to stay for the night, conveniently, there’s also Dream Hotel and Dream Hostel run by the same owners just down the street.
On top of the shopping centre Ratina, there’s restaurant Periscope, scoping for the tastes from the world. A famous Finnish chef, Arto Rastas, has passionately put together this scenic restaurant with a lounge bar and breathtaking outdoor terrace. Two stories and massive windows offer the diners plenty of both sunshine and city lights.
Even though the restaurant premises and its views are beyond comparison, it’s still not too up-scale or for fine dining only, as it is very easily adjusted to different tastes and budgets. Also the style of the food is not too tied to niches or countries, but a constantly changing selection of domestic and international flavours.
On the edge of Laukontori square, LiV vouches for good service and made-from-scratch broth. As one of the owners is a renowned wine-lover, good wine is also guaranteed. This corner caf cooks food rich in taste, with a vivid menu and wine list. Some of the ingredients come in small patches after a proper hunt from the season’s offerings.
LiV is not the place to go if you enjoy guessing what you just ate, but more of a place to have some honest, plentiful food, casually from start to finish. On the other hand, some surprises might be offered in the form of parts of food you hardly ever find in a restaurant, such as the sheep’s thymus.
Tiima is a very mystically located clock shop – or actually an intoxicatingly delicious secret pub, that hopes its location stays a secret from the masses on social media. Because of this, they ask that no photos of the entrance or the interior would be taken and posted on-line. It’s quite the pity, since the interior decoration of this time-machine-like clock shop is an experience in itself!
Awarded for example in the international Bartenders’ Choice Awards competition, Tiima boasts a high-class list of 12 different cocktails, one for each number on the clock face. The list includes top-quality cocktails made from fresh ingredients, and the range varies from classics to more experimental mixes. And the location…? Tick, tock!
Lillan is like a home away from home, located in the beautiful settings of the community garden, where you can enjoy coffee or lunch on a glass veranda. Lillan also serves as a unique little hotel, and the kitchen whips up salads, overnight oats, smoothies as well as warm dishes. There are also savoury quiches and sweet pies baked on the spot.
On the weekends, Lillan caters an extremely popular brunch, which in this boutique hotel spirit is meticulously presented, all the way from the dishware to the thoughtful and friendly service.
Along the culinary street of the Kyttälä district, there’s an extraordinary caf called Kumma (Finnish for “strange”), which in fact is too strange to fit any pre-existing categories so they describe themselves as “junk bar”. Kumma offers a bit more than just culinary tickles, as the recycled and humorous décor includes for example F1 cars, kick sleds, skis and other paraphernalia in the ceiling, which you can examine while sitting on a designer chair, an 80’s camping chair or a hammock seat.
There are some decent snacks to go with your pint of beer or glass of wine, for example the starters include vegan, meat, fish and cheese plates. If you’re desiring a whole meal, Kumma recommends the lovingly made pepper paste goulash, charcoal barbecued beef brisket and raw chocolate cake. Here, you don’t have to compromise your weekly budget or your diet preferences, as there is plenty of selection also for vegans, kiddies or grannies!
Located in the middle of the city’s industrial heritage scenery, this Tampella district’s corner kitchen is run by the meal magician who’s also represented Finland with the national chef team. The chef’s love for traditional Finnish food means that you might find for example some Karelian potato bread or Tampere’s own doughnuts incorporated in the dishes. The mains are fine-tuned to maintain variety, so no high ace is used twice. Even the sliders, which have already been established as the trademarks of the restaurant, are all refreshingly different. All in all, the inspiration and feel of the meals can be found in the forest as well as grandma’s house.
Viila is an easy stop for just one meal or a drink, but you can also order multiple dishes for the whole party to share and savour. The food is relaxed, good and multidimensional but it doesn’t require your undivided attention, giving space to free chit-chat and fun times to take the main stage. As it should be in a laid-back corner bistro.
Text and photos: Ronja and Toni Honko