For some reason I don’t seem to have posted a report on my trip to Stockholm (recently found a draft). Because this was more than a year ago now, I’ll keep it fairly brief.
Because this was a fairly short stopover I wanted to hit the high spots and booked for both Frantzen and Matsalen, with a day off in between to ‘eat local’.
First up was Matsalen, and it was very good, without being life-affirming. I was eager to try the (then and still?) fashionable Nordic cuisine, and the main drawback was that it seemed more ‘International’ with some Nordic influences. Absolutely worth a visit, but not the revelation I was hoping for.
Skipping (for the moment) the ‘spare day’ – a couple of days later I was at Matbaren. The experience here was more sophisticated. The ‘doorman’ (stationed outside) was able to deduce our name (without asking) by our arrival time and we were escorted into the small, old-fashioned, but comfortable room, where the show began. Lots of ‘impressive’ touches (e.g. showing us the meat before it was cooked), and almost impeccable service. A bit more Nordic in tone than Frantzen, but we noted a lack of seasonal ingredients. We had explored the local street markets on our spare day and were particularly impressed with the mushroom medley (specifically spectacular chanterelles) – but these failed to make an appearance at the restaurant – the menu didn’t seem to be particularly seasonal.
On the spare day in between, we checked the local food guides and found a place only 10 minutes’ walk from our hotel that was VERY highly rated (and, incidentally was in the same ballpark, pricewise, as the two main destinations). This was Esperanto (which a local guidebook rated higher than either of the two we had booked for).
Even before we entered we were (almost) intimidated by the Mercedes sports car, top-down, parked illegally outside (we were dressed casually) and figured this must be the new ‘trendy’ place (which it may well be, although we managed to camouflage ourselves adequately).
And the food was spectacular – EASILY the highlight of our trip. Totally fresh ingredients (including chanterelles) and the sophisticated Nordic cuisine we had been hoping for. And with an additional twist – strong Asian (which reminded us of meals in Japan) influences in presentation – no extraneous ingredients. The butter was amazing (I asked – they had browned some of the butter in a pan and then blended it back into the fresh butter) and this was the place we would most go back to.
And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in a couple of months. We were fortunate enough to get a reservation at Noma and will return to Esperanto for our other main meal on the trip.