A lilting riff on a grand piano greets the lucky guests that enter the temple of design and culinary excellence that is Savoy. Clearly a place where deals are made and hearts are won, Savoy is one of those experiences that’s talked about. Perched on the 8th floor of an unassuming office building facing Helsinki’s famous Esplanadi, the elevator drops you in what feels like the foyer of someone’s penthouse. A pantheon of mid-century Finnish designer Alvar Aalto’s aesthetic, the dining room and lounge are a feast for the eyes. Every detail was curated by Alvar and his first wife Aino and like the Savoy vase with fresh white flowers on every table, it’s here where both their spirits soar. The terrace, which was added to the original room, offers a stunning view of Helsinki. If it’s summer, sit here if you can. It’s a window on Finland’s amazing endless daylight.
We were lucky to visit on the longest day of the year and the dining room was abuzz. At 11 pm, after cocktails and two courses of Chef Kari Aihinen’s incredible summer menu incorporating home grown ingredients from the rooftop garden, the sun slowly began to sink in the sky. At this point Antti, our super maître d’, invited us to view the restaurant’s garden and we stepped out on the rooftop to have a look at what a creative chef does with fresh ingredients not even out of the earth. And what a garden it was!
Our meal was divided up by plantings – Arugula, Sage, Savory and Rosemary. The starter of Anttila’s beef Carpaccio with summer truffle had the perfect bite, the subtly bitter greens perfectly setting off the raw beef and sweet truffles. We segued to a fried pike perch, a Baltic fish, and this one light and flavorful with sage and asparagus. Having taken a step outside after this course, the night sky seemed to almost possess us. Could we just have the rest of our dinner out here? Thankfully, Antti convinced us to re-take our seats. The savory course of roasted breast of pigeon with summer vegetables was out of this world.
Antti invited us on a personalized tour of the dining room and we ambled around the space calling out ingenious examples of Alvar’s out of the box designs. Then it was time for dessert. Again, we forced ourselves to go back to our table and were rewarded with a heavenly rosemary and rose pepper crème brulee. Never have I wanted to ask for seconds more.
The Helsinki sky had finally darkened and clouds overtook the city. In spite of it, the Hotel Kamp sparkled across the Esplanadi in the distance, its regal façade a signal with Savoy of Helsinki’s understated grandeur. Practically a beacon for anyone who appreciates the culinary arts, Savoy should be first on your list for appreciating the sophistication of Helsinki, a city that surprises at every turn. I guess we have Alvar to thank.
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