In Tallinn, there is more to explore than just the medieval Old Town. The Kalamaja area is up and coming cool spot right next to the Old Town, and its’ Telliskivi Loomelinnak ‘Creative City’ hosts events, shops, restaurants, bars, flea markets - just like Berlin or any other European hipster mecca.
Little history lesson: Telliskivi area used to be a railway factory when built in 1869. The neighbourhood grew rapidly along with industrialism and was Tallinn Electrical Engineering factory since 1940. When Estonia gained independence in 1991, the plot was privatised, and since 2009 Telliskivi has functioned as the largest hub for creative economy in Estonia.
The area is a good spot for a half-day visit with some shopping, coffee and dinner. The factory building hosts a plethora of artisan shops selling fashion, handcrafts, cosmetics and design. Coffee Angels coffee shop has organic coffee and beans, teas, cacao and sweets, and Pudel Bar offers an extensive range of exotic and craft beers around the world. The popular F-Hoone restaurant was so popular it was full on a Tuesday evening, so we opted to have dinner in the fully gluten free Kivi Paber Käärid.
Kivi Paber Käärid seems more like a cool underground bar than a restaurant catering for food intolerances, but lo and behold! The joint is hip and cool and offers food I can eat. Winner winner, proper gluten-free dinner!
The prices in KPK are fairly reasonable: starters between 5-10e, mains around 10-13e, desserts 3.50-5e. Bottle of wine was 18e, so not that bad. The menu seemed to have a few different styles, from bunless burgers to salmon with guacamole risotto to lamb shanks. The appetiser plate was quite Russian style with paté, tartare, quail egg and herring, and pickled carrot; whereas the nacho plate obviously was Mexican, though the tiny slab of guacamole was more disappointing above anything.
Kivi Paber Käärid seems to be a place in favour of young people, and no wonder: the concrete room is so very loud that even young people have trouble hearing what their table company is saying. However, the food was delicious (except for the sweet potato fries that were cold and soggy), and for 4 people the dinner was 100e including wine and dessert, so not bad at all! I do wonder, why do KPK sell their palm oil-fried fries as healthy? Since when did palm oil become healthy? They also advertise some of their meals as being casein-free, which is something I have never seen before.
If you have 2 days in Tallinn, do yourself a favor; save the other one for Telliskivi, do some proper wandering around and eat either at Kivi Paber Käärid or F-Hoone. It is the perfect balance to the old town.