A classier club for Tallinn's club class

  • 2004-08-19
  • By Alec Charles

"Pina colada," a customer orders at the bar. The barmaid, Kristiina, tells him they make their pina coladas with pina colada mix.
"That's fine."
"No, it's not fine," she replies. "It's not good. It's got a chemical taste." She recommends something else.
This degree of friendly candor is my definition of quality service. Premium pina colada mix is not, however, my idea of a great drink selection.
R.I.F.F. is a new nightclub, bar, terrace and restaurant which opened this summer in the center of Tallinn.The club is owned by a Finnish company which runs 21 clubs in Finland.
The Finnish connection is visible in the club's modern, but not ultramodern, design, its use of dark wood where others might have gone for plastic and chrome. For a Tallinn nightclub, it's refreshingly - even disconcertingly - tasteful. Some have, however, seen in its decor echoes of the bar of a Helsinki-Tallinn ferry. Its geometries are brutally functional.
Upstairs, the restaurant offers a limited menu, based on a variety of ways to cook chicken: Indian, Cajun, Tex-Mex and Italian. There's also a decent vegetarian selection. In the evenings, the lounge bar plays a medley of golden oldies from the 70s and 80s. Down in the basement - a converted billiards hall - well-known Estonian DJs spin contemporary hits, with a tendency toward R&B. The minimalist dance floor's spiral lighting effects restore a much-missed sense of Tallinn kitsch.
The clientele are young and well-dressed, Tallinn's beautiful people. This isn't quite the land of the poseur, but in Estonia it's about as close as it gets.
"All in all, I'd rather be in Bangkok," a middle-aged American businessman mutters under his breath.
Drinks aren't too expensive, but they're not exactly cheap. A mere 40 centiliters of beer will set you back 40 kroons(2.5 euros). There are, however, happy hours, when the beer's half-price.
But what, I hear you ask, does "R.I.F.F." mean - apart, of course, from its musical connotations?"
The provenance of this enigmatically empty acronym is evidently top of the club's Frequently Asked Questions list.
"It doesn't mean anything," says Kairi, a waitress at the club. "It's just a name."

R.I.F.F. , Viru Valjak 6, Tallinn
Open Wed., Thurs.- 10 p.m.- 4 a.m.,
Fri, Sat - 10 p.m.-6 a.m.