Dining Notes: Favourite Restaurants in Stockholm, Sweden.
March 7, 2012
Visits: February 12, 2012, thru February 19, 2012.
A week of restaurant-going covered some of the city’s best. Most of these restaurants can be booked online and confirmed instantly, using a brilliant reservation booking website called ‘Book a Table’: www.bookatable.com/se/stockholm/central-stockholm/restaurants
If going to Stockholm, please do consider the following establishments, in alphabetical order:
Grev Turegatan 3, Östermalm
A fun, modern Swedish brasserie to visit for dinner. Excellent interior design, very cool, minimal, a bit off-beat. The food is what it is, homemade, not challenging, especially, their main dish of meatballs. Affordable selection of wines. One cannot go wrong dining here; they have an inspiring bar lounge to visit, too.
Fredsgatan 12, Norrmalm
Nice luncheon venue, very good value. I chose their moderately priced three-course luncheon set menu option (they have a four-course luncheon set menu, as well as an a la carte menu). My first course, blackened tuna with avocado, soy and sesame, was well executed. The main dish of sirloin steak and foie gras, with beetroots and truffle jus was polished, too. (The accompanying side of roasted potatoes was skillfully done, and beautifully presented.) Finally for dessert, the rhubarb compote, with strawberries and vanilla crème, was a lovely light and bright ending to what was a rather rich meal up to that point. Service was competent, sometimes a bit distracted, but, very friendly all the way thru. Wine list had enough selections by the glass to choose from to pair with each course, and all affordable for the most part. The curtains, unique lime green on dark green interiors, and fun light fixtures employed in the dining room, were quite novel to behold. All in all, this is a unique dining venue, and centrally located to get to tourist sites on time, such as tours of the Royal Palace.
Lilla Nygatan 21, Gamla Stan
How best to describe this establishment? The cuisine is definitely molecular-esque, yet, combined with a focussed sense of seasonality and ecology at the same time. I experienced their multi-course tasting menu (14 courses or so); best to let their efficient sommelier pair wines so you don’t have to think too much – you’ll be treated to a mix of traditional French ‘cru’ wines and vintages, as well as some delightfully off-beat wine varietals and styles to sip. My dinner experience felt like a futuristic culinary voyage thru very innovative gastro territory, featuring totally original courses displaying edgy combinations of ingredients, with all sorts of flavours, textures, smells, and eye candy at table. The dining room is seriously small, intimate, and minimally designed to showcase the cuisine. Service I experienced was professionally as perfect as it gets, yet, still friendly in that lovely Swedish way. Further, the pacing of the seemingly long menu was surprisingly timely, and I did not feel like the dinner was dragging on and on (as I have found is most often the case with most tasting menus of this sort). From beginning to end, it felt right; I felt satisfied, and not uncomfortably overfed or over poured, either. Perfect. To conclude, this is a truly rare restaurant amongst restaurants in Stockholm. If culinary inventiveness and high prices are not barriers to you, I would go here as soon as you can, live in the moment and be inspired.
Pipersgatan 1, Kungsholmen
As soon as I approached this restaurant, then, stepped foot inside, I felt like I was magically transported to Paris… This atmospheric and busy brasserie is a great place to visit to sample no-nonsense traditional Swedish-European dishes. Best to go for lunch during the week, and watch the locals come and go, as the restaurant seems to attract a loyal business luncheon crowd. With the help of a friendly waiter, I sampled some fine Swedish beers, with dishes he recommended, like pickled roasted sausage and beets with boiled potatoes. When the bill arrives, you will see the excellent value, too.
MATHIAS DAHLGREN ‘MATBAREN’
Grand Hotel Stockholm
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8, Norrmalm
Hip restaurant to visit to experience enlightened and modern Swedish cuisine based on the best seasonal produce and products available. There are tables, but, I was seated at their ‘food bar’ that afforded a nice view of the open kitchen concept. The menu is divided up into creative headings for dishes: I chose to focus most of my attention ordering both dishes on offer in their “From the Plant World” section, as well as their amazingly good steamed beef buns from their “From Other Countries” department! Details in each dish matter most here; each dish is expertly constructed, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. The food is served tapas style, one dish after another, no rush, and you order what you like until you feel satisfied. Wines by the glass were all excellent and attractively priced. The service was polished, confident, and still very welcoming and warm (they even surprised me with a sample of alcoholic ginger beer from Scotland, to go along with my beef buns, with compliments). Finishing with my espresso, I was served delightful petit fours – another nice touch. The design of the restaurant is modern Swedish, cool, a bit off-the-wall and colourful.
Sockenvägen 529, Enskededalen (near Woodland Cemetery)
Truly original and organic. Without doubt, visiting Mistral was one of the most eccentric and eclectic dinner experiences to date. This place is more than a restaurant, it is a noteworthy gastronomic oasis. The décor is so cleverly done, minimal, squeaky clean and Scandinavian, a touch camp. Nothing is totally straight or obvious here. A delightful sense of playfulness runs through the place, in every detail. Most definitely, there is no other restaurant in Stockholm like Mistral. It is actually quite difficult to describe my dinner experience. It was very much like experiencing the best cuisine at kaiseki restaurants of Japan, where seasonality is paramount, and the design of each course, and of each dish or vessel used, is well thought out to the ninth degree. Living in the moment is everything at Mistral. Every detail matters. I was served their multi-course ‘Winter Menu’ with wine pairings. (Best to let them do what they do best, and not have to think too much!) The way they used common winter veggies like onions, carrots, potatoes, beets, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes and so forth, expertly and creatively transforming the ingredients to make each somehow more magical and gastronomical, was beyond belief. Deer was featured as the meatier dishes, again, keeping the menu to a strictly seasonal celebration. The cuisine said something so simple and honest to me, ‘this is now, this is winter, this is Sweden, so, enjoy and respect it to the fullest’! Wines paired with the tasting menu were very off-beat and unusual, chosen to totally push the envelope! (This restaurant is very unusual, so, I accepted the resulting wine pairing quirkiness with finesse.) In fact, over the course of dinner, I learnt that all their wines are sourced from biodynamic producers only, again, showing their brilliant commitment to showcasing purely natural cuisine and products. The service was quite novel, whereby the two charming chefs also served me in the dining room, quite effortlessly and graciously so. As soon as I left the establishment, I could not help but notice how happy I felt to have visited this charming restaurant, I had a big smile on my face. That is when one knows something truly magical and meaningful has taken place, and that is exactly what happened to me whilst dining at Mistral!
Sturegatan 19, Östermalm
A sophisticated modern Swedish restaurant – with clearly French touches – definitely elevated above the norm of simpler bistro fare found throughout Stockholm. I ordered their delightful tasting menu (6-courses). With glee, I asked the sommelier to pair whatever he wanted with the dishes they eventually served me. The cuisine was clever, creatively and playfully presented using seasonal ingredients to the fullest. Beer and wines paired were all appropriate. This was an excellent restaurant to visit, filled with mostly loyal locals, and a great way for me to spend an evening. I was made to feel at home, and I certainly felt that way throughout the entire meal.
Nybrokajen 17, Norrmalm
High quality seafood, no unwanted surprises, as it should be. That said, do not go here expecting trendy molecular cuisine, with bizarre ingredient combinations, foams, powders, fireworks and so on. Classic seafood cookery is found here, appropriately with little or no garnishes. I ordered a light first course of wonderfully fresh salmon tartare with salmon roe, then, perfectly cooked Dover sole as my main dish, followed with a simple crème brûlée. Classic, classic, followed by classic, and no B.S.! Their wine list was nicely constructed with many options by the glass. The service was professional, mostly older and experienced waitresses keeping the dining room going efficiently and expertly.