The Savoy – Helsinki, Finland

A Tribute to Design, History, and Finnish Cuisine

Three things explain why the Savoy is one of Finland’s most important eating establishments. First, its very beautiful and elegant design commissioned in 1937 from Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), one of Finland’s most famous sons.

He designed everything from the service stations to the lighting fix­tures. Second, it was the favored haunt of the beloved “Marski,” the country’s revered national hero, Carl Gustav Mannerheim – architect of Finland’s independence and president of the first republic from 1944 to 1946. Follow in his footsteps and order his favorite cocktail: the Marskin Ryyppy (a schnapps made with vodka, aquavit, dry ver­mouth, and dry gin – known throughout Finland as a “Marski,” and said to have been consumed in large quantities by the general during those trying times).

He also loved vorschmack, a stew made of ground beef and mutton with minced herring that is simmered for two days and served with potato puree, pickles, beetroot, and sour cream. By now a traditional national dish, some say the recipe originated with Mannerheim himself, and (here’s reason number three) the Savoy’s is still considered the best around.

Diners who have their eye on the restau­rant’s famous, freeform flower vase will be happy to know that the nearby store Artek is known for its inventory of Alvar Aalto-designed furniture, ceramics, and objects. But to under­stand the breadth of Aalto’s genius and his influence as the leading light of 20th-century Scandinavian design, visit Finlandiatalo (Finlandia Hall).

Completed in 1971, it is Finland’s main symphonic concert hall, and the oldest symphony orchestra in Scandinavia performs here from September to May.

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