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Restaurants in Finland
Helsinki : Kosmos

 

When was your restaurant established, and who had this idea?
Restaurant Kosmos was established in 1924 by Yrjö Hepolampi, and it has remained a privately owned family business ever since.

How was the name of the restaurant chosen?
I cannot tell for sure, but there used to be a "Hotel Cosmopolite" in the same building at the time when Kosmos was founded, which may have inspired the name. The hotel has ceased to exist long ago, however.

For persons who don?t know Helsinki well, could you explain where your restaurant is located?
Kosmos is located in the heart of Helsinki: it stands at the beginning of Kalevankatu street opposite the department store Stockmann and near the statue of the three blacksmiths.

What kind of environment it is? Is the location of a restaurant an important thing?
The environment is a lively downtown milieu which means that Kosmos is within easy reach also by foot and by tram.

How would you present or describe your restaurant?
We like to describe Kosmos as a "Helsinki cosmopolitan" restaurant because it is popular among foreign visitors and local people alike, including many businesspeople and representatives of the artistic and cultural life. Undobtedly, the restaurant's timeless interior with a high ceiling, ambitions for good food and service, and an atmosphere not disturbed by background music but dedicated to discussion, make it a reliable place for a pleasant lunch, a nice evening with friends as well as an interesting experience for foreigners.

What kind of cuisine do you propose?
We believe our kitchen comes close to a "Helsinki cuisine" if such a tradition can be claimed to exist. It is a mixture of traditions adopted from Swedish, French and Russian cuisines, amplified with and adapted to local ingredients and tastes.

What are the specialties of your restaurant that you would definitely recommend to our readers?
In general, I would recommend dishes of Finnish fish. Fried Baltic Herrings with Mashed Potatoes is one of our classics, another would be for instance Sweetbreads with Port and Curry flavoured Cream Sauce accompanied by Cold Smoked Reindeer.

How often do you change the menu?
About every three weeks, lunch menu changes daily.

What are the next dishes our readers should expect to discover and taste in your restaurant?
Try Herb Crumbed Fillet of Lavaret with Lime Fruit Sauce and Duchess Potatoes, or Smoked Noisettes of Beef wrapped in Bacon, with Cranberry Sauce and Roasted Root Crops.

How do you select your chef? Is it difficult to find good chefs in Finland?
In fact, we do not have a chef but a kitchen team. This is partly because we put a premium on the continuity of our kitchen, which requires sensitivity for those ever-green elements that have taken root on our lists and in our patrons' expectations already ages ago. Working with these time-honoured elements demands no less inventiveness from the kitchen team, but of course new members always bring new interests and ideas with them, thereby renewing the kitchen.
The culinary art has been experiencing an upswing in Finland in the recent years, and highly qualified professionals are no longer a rarity in Finland. Or maybe we have just been lucky in Kosmos?

Regarding the decoration of your restaurant, did you follow a certain theme or a certain style?
The decoration in the dining room dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, which is why changes are kept to a minimum. It is mostly paintings, sculpture and other pieces of art that are varied in the dining room. Our latest acquisition is Jarmo Mäkilä's cartoon art depicting a fantasy
scene from Kosmos. On the other hand, the entranceway was remodelled in 2002 according to
plans by the world-renowned designer Stefan Lindfors, and it presents a striking contrast to the classical dining room.

Is the decoration of a restaurant important?
Decoration is a significant part of the uniqueness of Kosmos, a source of atmosphere that also conveys something about the restaurant's character.

It is always necessary to discuss a little bit about money? What is the average price that a couple who come to have a classical meal should expect to pay?
Including a bottle of mid-priced wine it would cost about 100 euros.

Are there any projects or happenings in the near future for your restaurant?
Kosmos participates in the "Art goes kapakka" festival that takes place towards the end of the summer, bringing musical and artistic performances and visiting art exhibitions to a number of Helsinki restaurants. Otherwise we let the customers entertain themselves, and concentrate on providing them our regular good service.

Katri Hepolampi, restaurateur

 

Interview by Vincent Lefrançois - 2003

 

 

 

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