Restaurant Day in Helsinki Serves Horse Meat

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Helsinki, Finland

Restaurant Day is one of the small things that makes Helsinki so special.

Four times a year people in Helsinki are permitted to open their own pop-up restaurant around the city and serve food.

No special permits or food safety inspections are needed, it’s buyer beware and I wish we had it in Toronto.

restaurant day
Restaurant Day

It first started in May 2011 as an act of rebellion but it has become so popular it is now seen as a a positive community event.

Absolutely anyone can decide to become a restaurateur for the day and sell their food wherever they want around the city.

It has become such a big event that hundreds of pop-ups appear throughout the city along with a website, app and many people with opinions on where to check out the best food.

restaurant day

Today I was lucky enough that Pete from Hecktic Travels was in town and keen to spend a day eating.

Unfortunately the app wasn’t as great as we had hoped and we didn’t see anything we were dying to eat – just a lot of cupcakes.

Eventually we wandered down to the bus station and smelled meat grilling so we made a beeline for it.

Turns out they had horse meat, antelope and venison.

I have eaten horse meat a few times, and the only time it was bad was as a burger in New Zealand which ended up tasting like cheap beef.

I have no issue eating horse meat and think it’s odd that people are okay with eating cows but not horses.

But with everyone talking about the European scandal of Findus having horse meat in their lasagna it seemed that we had to try it here.


It was awesome!

It was Pete’s first time eating horse so I was so hoping it would be good.

The venison was a bit overcooked, the antelope was good but the horse meat with the accompanying bacon gravy was some of the best meat I have eaten.

And it also inspired an intimate moment between Pete and I (sorry Dalene) when we realized we were similar eaters and like to keep a few pieces of the best thing for last.

The horse meat was definitely the best.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Finnish Tourist Board as part of a Navigate Media Group project. They did not request that I write a favourable review or ask that I try horse meat in Europe so soon after the Findus scandal.

Join the Conversation

  1. Alana - Paper Planes says:

    What a cool concept for pop up restaurants! Unfortunately I don’t think would ever fly in the U.S…. Living in Southeast Asia eating (and not getting sick) where street stalls have less sanitation and regulation, but are still heavily visited, makes me really question the health and safety cautions at home.

    Obviously food safety is an important thing, but I think it’s been regulated to a point that’s absolutely ridiculous.

  2. the scandal comes from the fact that 1. people were not telling the truth about what meat is in the lasagna and 2. because this type of horse meat is coming from old horses which were not supposed to land on your plate.

  3. I’ve got my eye on you bacon lady.

  4. I don’t actually like horses so I don’t mind people eating them 🙂

    When I lived in Sweden there was a small scandal when some lunch restaurants were caught serving horse and calling it beef. The problem was not that it was horse, but rather that it was mislabeled. It turns out some people are able to eat beef, but are allergic to horse.

    There’s a reason truth in labeling is important!

  5. But that’s not bacon.

  6. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Even when I ate meat, I’m not sure I could have found the courage to eat horse meat!

  7. I would prefer not to know ahead of time…remember the Cuy we had in Ecuador. It was looking at the little paw that did me in.

  8. I assume people have issues with it because horses are seen more as an animal you can own as a pet or use for a sport. Though I don’t see why ownership should change much. I agree that if you are willing to eat cow meat, you shouldn’t have any issues with horse! I myself have never tried it, but I am intrigued.

  9. Emily in Chile says:

    I love the idea of Restaurant Day! I wish we had it here too, I think it would quickly become my favorite day(s) of the year.

    As far as horse meat goes, I won’t eat it because I rode horses growing up, and to me it’s more similar to eating dog than eating cow. I don’t think it’s morally wrong, but it’s just not something I want to do when I think of all the sweet horses I’ve known and ridden

  10. Lesley Peterson says:

    Agree totally with your comment re why eat a cow and not a horse? Or eat chickens (which have a lot of personality and the breeds are gorgeous) but never, never bunnies. While I’m currently cutting way back on my animal consumption for various reasons, I don’t find it shocking or disgusting that horse DNA was found at the plant that processed the IKEA meatballs. It’s an abattoir! There’s going to be all kinds of animal DNA there! Just hopefully not skunk:))))

  11. Good to read that somebody, finally, defends the horse as a meal. This horsemeat scandal has turned the world upside down (even though it produced some good jokes, like the caption “Let’s run before they FINDUS” under a horse photo…). I almost feel as if I have to travel to Helsinki now, by the way.

  12. Kristin Addis says:

    It’s weird the random meats I’ve come to try and ended up liking as well (I think you and I both kind of like dog meat – yes?) So I’d give horse meat a try in a second!

  13. Annette | Bucket List Journey says:

    What an interesting meaty smorgasbord! I haven’t had the opportunity to try horse meat…yet. But, I’ll remember not to eat it in the burgers in New Zealand!

  14. I think it’s important for people to tell the truth about what their product is, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have a problem with eating horse…especially now I know it’s tasty! I find it interesting that people are totally fine eating some species and not others just because of the way they’ve been conditioned. One person commented on my ‘eating cuy’ post that they hoped someone would find me delicious one day! Hardly an insult 🙂

  15. Martine @ Chompchomp says:

    I love pop-up business ventures. The owners always seems to have a carefree try-anything vibe and often take themselves out of their usual comfort zones. The concept hasn’t really taken off yet in sleepy Perth….we are getting there though! Recently had a dessert pop up bar! Yummo

  16. I haven’t tried horse yet, but have to agree, how is horse all that different from cow? Vancouver needs a buyer beware market too… it’s just so not gonna happen in Canada though! After reading a few of your posts I wish I’d made a bigger effect to go to Finland when I was in Scandinavia… there’s always next time!

  17. Kieu ~ GQ trippin says:

    Funny.. I think Gerard had horse meat burger in Slovenia and it wasn’t good at all. I’d been keen to try this.

  18. Adam Sommer says:

    Yuk! Horse meat….I think I am too American (sounds bad, I know)

  19. A Cook Not Mad (Nat) says:

    I love everything about this post. Restaurant Day, what a great concept! And horse meat! Meat is meat, you either eat it, all of it, or you don’t eat it at all.

  20. Ha! You’ll feel happy eating here in the UK then. Horse meat has been found in the burgers here.

  21. Also, I’m just going to point out how much I love that guy (in the first pic)’s mohawk!

  22. Restaurant Day is one of the most brilliant ideas I have heard of in a long time…of course here in Mexico people take it upon themselves to create their own permit free ‘restaurant days’ whenever there is any sort of festival or holiday or crowd on hand.

  23. Emily / The Grown Up Gap Year says:

    I love the idea of pop up restaurants. I’ve seen it before with art exhibitions in the UK but never food. Brilliant!

  24. I love the idea of the pop up restaurants (and the cupcakes!) but I’m not sure I would eat horse meat. I’m not a very adventurous eater to begin with and I am definitely a wuss about eating animals that have featured in Disney films 🙂

  25. I think it is weird too. I’m a meat equal opportunist.

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