As I sit down to write this, I am enjoying the sun on my face at a waterfront cafe listening to the chatter of Swedish people all around me. I’ve just enjoyed the most delightful meal of my 4 days in Stockhom, but more on that in a minute. First, I must recap the other delicious food I’ve experienced in Sweden:
Kitchen + Table — Kungsholmsgatan 31
A homey bar/restaurant, Kitchen + Table offers an excellent beer & cocktail list and a globally inspired menu focused on gastropub favorites. By Marcus Samuelson, one of the few Swedish chefs I am familiar with, this affordable affiliate restaurant was only steps away from my Airbnb. I started with a simple appetizer of lemon & thyme marinated olives served in a miniature mason jar. They were honestly nothing super special, but after a long day of walking around, something salty & briny was exactly what I was looking for. I went with the falafel for my entree which was a light but hearty choice. A house made pita served as the base for the crispy fried falafel, a bunch of pickled veggies (including fennel!), braised cabbage and a tangy yogurt-dill sauce. The star of the meal, though, was my deconstructed rhubarb pie dessert. The rhubarb was pickled in apple cider vinegar and served alongside a crumbly pastry dough cake, bright ginger ice-cream and a honey syrup. It really hit the spot without being overly sweet or big.
Tradition — Tulegatan 10
Aptly named, Tradition blends traditional Swedish & Nordic food with modern diner demands & techniques. Admittedly, I’m not super familiar with Nordic food (it’s not exactly the most popular of “ethnic” foods in the US) so I wanted a crash course in the cuisine’s highlights. I opted for a DIY small plate tasting menu, including Pickled Herring, Smoked Reindeer Mousse and Swedish Cheese Tart. Pickled herring is something my grandfather loved, so we serve it every year at our Thanksgiving meal. But the smell always scared me off, and I’ve actually never really tried it. Thankfully, all those negative attributes proved NOT to be the case at Tradition. The fish was well-brined and brightly acidic with a mild and smooth texture. It was served atop of bed of hard-boiled eggs, dill oil and raw red onion. The smoked reindeer was under-seasoned and sort of a weird texture, but the cheese tart more than made up for it! Similar to a quiche, the flaky pie dough surrounded a buttery smooth cows milk cheese topped with white fish roe (a delicious acidic touch!) chives, red onion and dill.
The Flying Elk — Mälartorget 15
Ran by Michelin star winning chef Bjorn Frantzen, I knew this meal would be a delight. He owns multiple restaurants in Stockholm, but Flying Elk has a casual gastropub vibe and fits in my price range. The menu has creative flavor combinations with unique but unpretentious dishes. I started with two small plates, including a baked oyster served with creme friache and rhubarb oil and a rhubarb macron filled with foie gras mousse. The macron was awesome, a strange yet delicious combination of flavor & texture that I had never experienced before. Next up came a veal tartar (another new one for me) served with cave aged Parmesan, pickled cauliflower, shaved carrots and micro greens. The smooth veal was light in flavor, but perfectly enhanced with the combination of other ingredients. The final dish I ordered was a beef short rib served medium rare. It was topped with elderflower buds, tomato relish and a jus sauce over a plate of cheesy polenta grits. Everything about this dish was perfect, but the flower & tomato topping was especially surprising and welcomed.
Fotografika — Stadsgårdshamnen 22
Part museum, part waterfront cafe, part private event space, Fotografika just feels cool. It’s modern industrial vibe and incredible location make it a place that I could easily spend a day hanging out. On the top floor (after meandering through the museum’s galleries), you’ll find a modern cafe pumping out some seriously awesome “Fika” treats. Fika, in Swedish, roughly translates to coffee and sweets with friends, and I certainly indulged throughout my stay. The Americano at Fotografika was the best I had in Stockholm, and alongside a sweet and sour Passion fruit tart, I left with a big ass smile on my face.
Another cool Fika spot is Wayne’s coffee. There are many locations around town (it’s a pretty large chain), but I frequented the one in the central station. Again, an Americano was my drink of choice, and this one, while not as good as Fotografika, still packed a serious caffeine punch. I nibbled on their buttery & flaky freshly baked croissants while I sipped my coffee, which was a great mini breakfast.
Malarpaviljongen — Norr Mälarstrand 64
I’ve finally circled back around to the restaurant I mentioned in my intro — Malarpaviljongen. By far the best ambiance of any of the restaurants I went to, Malarpaviljongen has the prestigious title of one of CondeNast’s top neighborhood restaurants in the world. Its flower-filled, idyllic location on the banks Riddarfjarden waterfront offers visitors a local person’s laid-back vibe with a tourist’s dream location. On a sunny summer afternoon, I don’t think I could have dreamed up a more beautiful spot — chirping birds, over-the-water dining, friends engaged in conversation — it’s literally perfect. You walk up to the counter to order, and I opted for my first EVER Swedish meatballs with a side of pecan tart. After all, what would a trip to Sweden be without trying Sweden’s culinary claim to fame? The meatballs were served in their quintessential gravy alongside lingdonberries and mashed potatoes. They absolutely hit the spot with a rich and filling goodness! The pecan tart featured candied nuts as a crunchy topping to the graham-cracker crusted cheesecake bottom. Not too sweet, I savored this dessert while I wrote this blog post in the natural scenery and city ambiance.