Typography

The return of an old gem

THERE ARE not a whole lot of places in Helsinki where you can enjoy a great cup of coffee or a glass of wine while taking in the scenery of some of the city’s most important sights. The newly-renovated Cafe Piritta, however, lies on the waterfront of Tokoinranta in Hakaniemi, offering a view across the bay to some of the most prominent landmarks of the city.

The bustling Hakaniemi market lies to one end of the shoreline and the white top of the Helsinki Cathedral sits on the horizon directly across the water. With a glance across the railway tracks leading to the Central Railway Station, one can catch a glimpse of Finlandia House and the...

The return of an old gem

THERE ARE not a whole lot of places in Helsinki where you can enjoy a great cup of coffee or a glass of wine while taking in the scenery of some of the city’s most important sights. The newly-renovated Cafe Piritta, however, lies on the waterfront of Tokoinranta in Hakaniemi, offering a view across the bay to some of the most prominent landmarks of the city.

The bustling Hakaniemi market lies to one end of the shoreline and the white top of the Helsinki Cathedral sits on the horizon directly across the water. With a glance across the railway tracks leading to the Central Railway Station, one can catch a glimpse of Finlandia House and the tower of the National Museum, along with the historical presence of the old villas that dot the area around the cafe.

The new Cafe Piritta only opened its doors in early April, yet it has already gained popularity with people filling the place on sunny weekend days. “People have found us quickly, but saying that, the weather does affect our business a great deal,” restaurant manager Timo Hilska explains. “A lot of our customer base comes from people walking or biking around the area, and on a rainy day it can be very quiet.”

Although only recently reopened, Cafe Piritta is no newcomer to the city. An idea to open a seaside Cafe as an alternative to the already existing Cafe Ursula in Kaivopuisto was initiated by the owners of Ursula already in the 1970s. Piritta first opened its doors in 1977 and functioned as a summer time cafe only. In the final few years of its previous existence the building was leased to an outside entrepreneur, eventually falling into disrepair. The old Piritta closed its doors in 2005, after a decision was made to renovate it as part of an initiative hoping to improve the park area where it is situated.

The Piritta that was previously known as a derelict old construction is now far gone. The building has been given a complete turnaround and now boasts a composed, modern environment with a touch of nostalgia for uncomplicated Scandinavian design.

Stepping into the Cafe, the first thing one notices is the white pendant lights that hang down from the high ceiling. The wooden tables and chairs are set around the space in a manner reminiscent to school diners – but in a much more sophisticated sense. During the day the space is filled with natural light streaming in from the large glass windows at each end of the building. “One of the most important ideas behind the design of the new building was to let the natural light in and provide customers with a view across the bay area, even when sitting inside,” Hilska comments.

Over the summer months Piritta will host a number of live music and other events. A plan is also brewing in the minds of the owners to open a waterway connection to Kaivopuisto for the summer, Hilska reveals. This would enable an alternative connection between Ursula and Piritta, but more importantly a chance for people to enjoy the barely utilised waterway of the Tokoinranta bay.

During the weekdays Piritta has swiftly turned into a popular lunch place. The lunch on offer consists of three different soups changing daily, and an à la carte menu with a variety of options from fresh salads to salmon with brain mushroom sauce (don’t be put off by the name, it’s absolutely scrumptious!) and beef entrecote béarnaise. For something a tad smaller, there is also the cabinet which is chock-a-block with tasty breads filled with a selection of savoury goodies, sweet pies and, of course, the essentials to Finnish Cafes: karjalanpiirakka and pulla.

Cafe Piritta
Eläintarhantie 12
00530 Helsinki
Tel. 09 753 1732
Open every day 8:00-24:00
www.ursula.fi/piritta

With the variety of food comes a variety of customers; businessmen in suits sit comfortably next to mothers with young children, and couples in tracksuits pop in for a cuppa after a walk. “We are primarily a Cafe, not a restaurant, and want to provide a place where everyone feels comfortable just as they are. That is the most important thing for us,” Hilska says.

That is surely a positive feature of Piritta – what’s nicer than knowing you can stroll into a classy cafe in a stunning setting in your running shoes and no-one will take a second look?

Petra Nyman

Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016

Interview

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