Jätkäsaari (literally translating to “Dude Island”) is a peninsula sitting in the south-west of the Helsinki. It’s a developing and reclaimed area of Helsinki with big swathes of construction popping up apartment blocks ala Game of Thrones intro style. Word is that by 2030 all apartment blocks will be completed along with schools, stores, and saunas. Naturally. Projected final population of “Dude Island”? 21,000 Dudes. And Dudettes. In contrast to a 2,318 population in 2005.
With the increase of people the need for an increase in bars is of utmost importance. Right now, in May 2019, there are 5 bars of note. So I visited them all.
If you’re not put off by semi-naked humans wandering around you as you sup your drinks wide-eyed then Uusi Sauna is not a bad little bar. Situated in a quiet courtyard off of Välimerenkatu, Uusi Sauna has a wide range of craft beers and bar food on offer. They also have two huge dogs if you’re lucky enough for them to be around when you drop in.
Its decor is bare concrete walls with metal and wood fittings; a sort of hipster doofus paint by numbers interior. Does the sauna/bar concept work? Being more of a beer connoisseur than a sauna connoisseur, the comings and goings of the sauna dwellers with only a thin towel situated between me and their saunified bits, is a bit different and humorous but it’s cool in a Finnish way.
The vibe is different because people are mainly there to sauna. There are no TVs or other entertainment options; it’s sauna time baby. And sauna-ing is serious business. The staff are friendly without being overly so. The dogs will allow you to scratch them forever. Fyi they are closed on Mondays. My draught pint (Belgian style blonde) cost €9 with a stingy glass of house red wine at €5.
Urbine is one of the newest bars in the area, taking over the vacant lot of a dodgy looking bar (even the empty lot looked dodgy) in its place. Urbine is far from dodgy with a casual yet trendy interior. It is your last port of call before heading to the ferry terminal to Tallinn. And you could do worse by popping in and having a drink or bite to eat.
On the evening in question that we visited there was one guy running the front of house efficiently and friendly; he didn’t have a problem dealing with us non-Finnish speaking morons. Lapin Kulta was the draft beer of choice with a house red. Two pasta dishes were delicious; the avocado one and the chicken one. We’ve been craving the dishes since.
Another bar hidden in a back alley of apartments even more-so than Uusi Sauna. This bar gives more of an eatery type vibe than come-here-to-drink vibe. It’s bright and airy and has lots of photos of horses on the wall. The front of house dude was welcoming and friendly and offered us up a Jacobsen brown beer on draft and a house red at typical Finnish prices.
A little too small and with tightly packed seating to be regarded as homey or comfy, Malaga Bar can still be seen as a go-to joint for a swift bite to eat accompanied by a drink of your choice.
Sky Room (Clarion Hotel)
Alright we tried two times at different times of the day to get a drink at the Sky Room on the 16th floor of the Clarion Hotel. Both times we were greeted by amazing views but with equally amazing 15 deep queues at the bar to get served. The third time we tried was on Vappu-eve of all times and it was quite quiet. Finally.
The views are amazing, it has to be said, in a city of very little high view points.
Prices were along the same lines of the other bars in the area. Lapin Kulta is the Finnish beer on draft.
Rumour has it that many yard sales and flea markets resulted in the decor of Huutokonttori. It’s a mish-mash of sofas, chairs, tables, curios, and drapes. And stuffed badgers. And it’s quite homely in a sense; if the home in question is owned by a crazy old cat lady. The bar is a boat. Which is quite fitting due to the port-side neighbourhood.
Karhu 5,3 and a BIGGG house red at €10 each is reasonable value (especially as the wine was served in a bucket). Service was friendly and welcoming. The clientele were spread out amiably around the living room and the music was at a pleasant background level. A nice bar and one we need to visit more often. And to stick our tongues up at the Sky Bar across the road. In nicer weather they have a decent sized outdoor patio to enjoy the fleeting sun. There’s a library upstairs if you want to pick up the entire back catalogue of Jackie Collins on the way out.
As the neighbourhood develops I’m sure there will be additions to the list and I’ll be sure to investigate!