By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel

Good luck trying to dine and dash at this underground restaurant.

A Finnish restaurant just opened 80 metres down a working limestone mine called Tytyri. It’s located in the southern Finnish town of Lohja, about 49 kilometres west of Helsinki.

The restaurant, ‘Muru Pops Down in Tytyri’, is truly embracing a ‘back to the earth’ approach to cooking. It’s the spinoff brainchild of a popular Helsini bistro called Muru (“crumb” in Finnish). Muru, by the way, won this year’s gourmet title in Finland, just two years after opening. Not too shabby.

Spanish miners
These Spanish miners wish they were dining at an underground Finnish restaurant. Photo: AP/Juan Manuel Serrano

Muru’s team noticed the trend of ‘pop up’ restaurants. It’s where rising chefs find empty/under-used/unusual spaces to experiment and practice their craft.

So Muru went the other way and came up with a ‘pop down’ idea. A 64-seat restaurant with cool air and an earthen floor, it offers fine food at long, wooden, candle-lit tables. Muru Pops Down in Tytyri opened this week for a 10-night experiment.

It runs Monday through Saturdays (the employees pop up to sleep on Sundays) and then closes September 29th [And by closes, I mean the restaurant shuts down. Far as I know, they’re not planning to blow up the mine shaft so that other restaurants can’t move in.]

“The main theme with the menu was Element Earth,” chef Timo Linnanmaki, told Reuters.

For 128-euros ($160 US), chef Linnanmaki will serve you four-course meals of escargot flambéed in Pernod & served with fennel risotto, smoked vendace in lemon oil, roasted veal tenderloin, and hanger steak simmered in herb stock.

On the way down to the restaurant, you wear a hard hat down the shaft but can take your hat off for dinner. And if 80 metres doesn’t sound deadly enough, you’re invited to put your hardhat back on and go 350-metres down the elevator shaft into the mine.

So what’s it like working in a mine?

“It’s great working down here because you are totally cut off from the world, so nothing distracts from the cooking,” Linnanmaki told the Associated Press.

Muru’s restaurnat looks like this when it’s above ground, except with people. Photo: Muru

Your 128-euros also includes cocktails and transportation from Helsinki to the mine and back (116-euros if you choose non-alcoholic beverages). And I like this part: the restaurant-bound bus picks you up at a Helsinki cocktail bar called ‘Liberty or Death’. Kind of ironic considering you then dine in a restaurant where the staff are trapped 80 metres underground for 6 days straight.

Your whole dining excursion takes 6.5 hours from your 5 pm pickup to your 11:30 pm return to Liberty or Death.

And if you don’t tip well when you’re down in the mine?

Well, you may not get a ride back up.

— Ken Hegan


For further information, click here

Muru’s website

Read all Ken’s stories here and follow him on Twitter: @KenHegan