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Manala (literally "Hell", "Underworld") is a well-known and excellently placed restaurant in central Helsinki, Finland. Frequented by many high flyers, it has not gained a reputation as a trendy, "hip" place to go as much as some of the other currently popular Helsinki restaurants, bars and clubs. Manala serves good, large portions from both international and Finnish cuisines at prices that are considered affordable by Helsinki standards. Other pluses include the location and the long opening hours - from lunch time until 4 am.

Manala is located near the Finnish National Museum and the Finnish parliament, just a short walk from the central train station. Housed in the Ostrobotnia building, the premises are dignified and ageless. In addition to the restaurant, the estabilishments in the building include a pub and a conference/party floor. The convenient placing of other Ostrobotnia facilities means that a transition from, for example, St. Urho's Pub for a bite in Manala is easy. Manala is also an attractive place to stop for a hearty lunch before walking around the Töölö bay area.

Manala (officially, it's the Ostrobotnia Restaurant) is the latest incarnation of a long line of restaurants in the historic building. Ostrobotnia, named so because of the owner is the Ostrobothnian society of the University of Helsinki, has had a restaurant since it was built in 1912. Manala continues this tradition, adding a bit of its own twist to the history of the building.

Besides the food, the Manala restaurant caters as a club on fridays and saturdays in the form of "night dances". In these, the public areas of the dignified building are all opened: Five bars on four floors, and a live band every friday. As the restaurant kitchen stays open until four am as well, Manala is a popular place to come and get a midnight snack. If, of course, a full and not-so-small meal at two in the morning suits your definition of midnight snack.

The age limit to enter the restaurant in club form is 22, but Ostrobotnia does not charge an admission fee. In daytime there is no age limit. Manala is located at address Dagmarinkatu 2. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 to 04, and Saturdays to Sundays from 14 to 04. Reservations, either by telephone ((09) 580 77 707) or web form are recommended.

Probably the easiest way to get to Manala from the railway station is to walk on Mannerheimintie on the western side past the Finnish parliament building and turn left at the steps of the National Museum. The Ostrobotnia building, "Botta" is directly in front of you. The Manala restaurant can be found by encircling the building. If you are taking a taxi, saying that you want to go to Manala (all short wovels, as in "up") will get you there. If you want to use public transport, take a tram and get off at the national museum. The 4, 7 (A/B) and 10 all stop there.

Expect a meal to cost around €25-30. That includes starters and a drink.

References: http://www.botta.fi (The Ostrobotnia building homepage)
Personal experience

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