My first visit to Helsinki was in 1994 so it’s taken me 24 years to drum up the effort to go to Kappeli. Or indeed the coin. But I’m glad that I did.
The venue is legendary for Sibelius fans (I’m one of them). This is where he chummed up, scoffed and bantered before doing more self-wreckage across the way in the Hotel Kamp.
One can’t expect the same atmosphere to prevail 140 years on but I would have preferred not to have Mussorgsky piped into the karsi (much as I love Pictures at an Exhibition). Why not Kullervo?
The dining room though is a joy. Glass everywhere to watch people strolling by. A corner tête à tête room shut with a sparrow flapping within as if part of an installation. Solid burghers of Helsinki munching beside upscale tourists. And our Anglo-Finnish party to confuse the waitresses.
The food was solid Nordic grub. A green salad up front with pickled cucumber the star, followed by a beautifully smoked salmon (in Kappeli’s own smokery) with proper allotment style spuds on the side. But a paucity of broccoli. Dessert of a baked Alaska style ice cream with summer fruit could have done with more (wild) blueberries and fewer strawbs.
The wine list is solid and overpriced. I don’t believe that K’s sommelier does much travelling. But then this is an Institution and unlike Pegasus the need is not there to find a clientèle. It queues at the door. Which may also explain the lack of charm on the service side of things.
All the same it’s worth going to more than once. For the terrace. And probably for the cafeteria side. The quality of the food there looked as good, if not better, than in the restaurant.
To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).