We tried this place some months back for a quick pre-theatre dinner, and enjoyed the mains we limited ourselves to, so we resolved to go back and push the envelope a bit further. It was well worth it. Good food, attractively served and in a friendly, buzzing environment - what's not to like?
I had the KarlJohan menu at EUR 42.00, with a delicious veal carpaccio and caper & carrot jelly, followed by pike-perch done to perfection and floating in a terrific foamed and tarragon-flavoured beurre blanc sauce that required an extra order of bread to wipe the plate, and a crème brûlée nicely set off with a tart apple sorbet bursting with flavour. The green salad starters chosen by others were strikingly imaginative and went down well, as did the morel soup. I forgot to enquire about the vorschmack - it's not something I've ever much fancied, to be honest - but the responses to the Arctic char fish-of-the-day were also very positive. To my palate, the real tour-de-force was actually something we got by accident - I was wrongly given the chavroux cheese-flavoured chocolate parfait with cherry melba, which had a stunning mint- or lemon melissa-tinged sauce to it and a few berries as well. Since my own dessert came in short order, I mostly had to watch other mouths devouring this unscheduled delight, but I'll remember it for next time, assuming it's still on the list.
All the items were nicely set out, and the service was attentive but very cheerful, and things happened at the right times with no sense of haste in a room that was pretty close to full. The flub with the dessert (apparently they were in the process of a menu-change and the chef slipped up) was rectified instantly and with no fuss, and we were naturally not charged for it.
It's not a large space, and I would second some comments that it can get a bit noisy, with tables set pretty close to one another, but it never became irritating. The English (!?!) sparkling wine we had in lieu of a Prosecco with our starters was pleasant enough, though rather overpriced in my view, but then this IS Finland. Wines by the glass weren't too hard on the wallet. One other point that colours my favourable opinion of this restaurant is that they regularly have items one doesn't find so often elsewhere, such as lambs' kidneys or most noticeably the wonderful sweetbreads I enjoyed the first time around. Yum!
All in all, a good result, and without the burden of the wine it would not even have been overly expensive. It's not WOW-cuisine, but they know what they are doing, and they do it very well.
If you own or manage Ravintola Karljohan, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.