- Food & Drink
The second rule of holiday eating – after “always obsessively research your eating out options and refuse to deviate from them for fear of looking like a fool who will pay well over the odds for a unpalatable plate of slurry” – is: If you must depart from your carefully planned dining options, don’t do it in a touristy part of town because that will only result in Disaster.
We’ve all seen the restaurants in Leicester Square. We’ve made the mistake of sitting down for an al fresco coffee just round the corner from St Peter’s. Many of us have thought: “I’m in France! How bad can a meal next to the Notre Dame be?” The end result is always microwaved cheese / a bill so expensive you’re forced to sell off one of your travelling companions / further proof that French food isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
And yet, the touristy parts of town are normally the attractive bit (Leicester Square excepted). There are lovely squares; twisty, olde worlde architecture; things of historic interest; and they’re often conveniently located. Which is why, on Saturday night, we ate at JT Restaurant in Gamla stan.
It’s an attractive restaurant with caramel walls and white tablecloths on the corner of a pretty cobbled square. It caught our eye because of the absolutely massive whiteboards stuck all along its frontage with the menu written on them in marker pen in English. This caused no warning bells to ring in our ears at all, so we booked a table and went home to get changed.
Being women, getting decked out in our finery took us considerably longer than anticipated, so we arrived, besquinned and glittering, half an hour after our booking. Fortunately for us, JTs is used to the vagaries of tourists and has a high turnover of punters, so a table was ready almost immediately.
The first sign that this was an out of towners restaurant was the bread basket. Instead of being given a enormous box of bread and crispbreads to power through (as we had been everywhere else), we were offered a slice from the communal bread basket. It was nice bread, but I’d gotten used to starting my meals with a 1/4 loaf.
We plunged straight into the main courses: 2 salmon fillets with crayfish and cheese, 2 meatballs with cream sauce and lingonberries and an elk burger with pickles, coleslaw, potatoes and lingonberries for me. The burger arrived open, acned with a miniscule quantity of cheese that had no impact whatsoever on the flavour.
The bun was of the soft, sweety, pappy kind that’s topped with sesame seeds and becomes a carbohydrate paste with just one or two chews. And the burger was remarkably like most of the other burgers I’ve eaten in my life. It was nicely seasoned and fairly juicy, but the difference between cooked through beef and cooked through elk wasn’t obvious to me. Perhaps I need to grind my own elk and experiment.
The accompaniments all fall under the heading of ‘tasty’, although the decision to garnish all of our dishes with a big handful of thyme was bizarre. Everyone else described their meals as nice. We finished with coffees, green teas and a chocolate truffle for SoJo – a small triangle of excellent, bittersweet truffle with berries scattered about it. It was the perfect size pudding for when you want something sweet but know that forcing down a normal dessert will shatter your knicker elastic.
Service was attentive and we lingered over dinner for two hours. The bill for 5 main courses, 1 mini dessert, a bottle of house red, 3 coffees and 1 green tea was Kr1,330 (£118). In the context of our Stockholm holiday, this was entirely reasonable and a much better standard of food then I’ve come to expect from elegant looking restaurants on quaint corners in pretty parts of the world.