Please note, this venue is now closed. Time Out editors, May 2018
Some will come to the Finnish Cultural Centre’s Coutume Instituutti – sister branch of Le Coutume Café – with a burning desire to discover what actually constitutes Finnish cuisine. Others, because they need a cool, calm, open space in which to type their emails over a cup of coffee. Visitors of the first kind may come away disappointed: the menu is still very small (the venue had opened only one month prior to our visit), and of the fusion variety. We tasted nicely spiced Finnish meatballs on a bed of couscous and parsnips (not cheap at €12.50); but aside from a few other main courses of this sort (such as a chicken curry for €9.50), a soup of the day (€4.90), and a small range of cakes, the kitchen hasn’t got much to offer. The friendly staff inform us that things may expand in the future.
Those visitors in the second category will have no such regrets, for this is one of the most pleasant cafés we’ve stumbled upon in a while. It’s sleek, quiet without disapproving of conversation (renowned Finnish actress Elina Salo was chatting away at the next table), and very spacious – in the evenings, the tables are packed away for concerts and ping-pong sessions. There’s something in the tastefully minimalist wooden furnishings that positively begs you to whip out your MacBook. And the coffee is made for people who love to drink it, by people who love to talk about it: we were served a wickedly strong latte (worth the €4 tag) that the staff informed us was an in-house blend of Guatemalan beans, lightly roasted (as the Finnish like it) at the café’s sister branch. Beans are for sale at the bar.
Not the place to go for an eye-opening culinary journey, nor for a lavish evening meal, Café Coutume is instead a superb café with extras – and a lovely Scandinavian twist.
For more information on the centre’s cultural activities, click here.