Was just in Stockholm for a long weekend, had three amazing dinners and one lovely lunch, so thought I would post for the benefit of folks. Esperanto was the real highlight. Even though Frantzen was also amazing and a more intimate experience, a week later, there are more dishes from Esperanto's menu that I am still thinking about. Sunday night we went to Oaxen Slip, one of the few places open on a Sunday night, and also very good food. Saturday lunch we want to Smorgasbord at the Grand Hotel, again a day of the week where it is hard to find a good place open at lunch time- I usually avoid buffets like the plague but this was pretty top notch.
Worth going? A resounding yes, one of the best meals of my life, up there with Brooklyn fair, Mugaritz, Etxebarri, Osteria Francescana and the other greats. The chef revels in capturing the perfect texture in every dish. He loves the fishy, sweet, umami mix that one gets with excellent Japanese food. The dishes were refined, delicate, and almost all of them were exceptional.
The dining room is lovely and warm, with friendly servers. When we were there, we were able to peer at the new omakase sushi bar that functions as a separate restaurant in the corner. It looked very tempting.
We had a special request for the sommelier, to do a sake pairing instead of wine pairing, something the restaurant had never done before, and they did a brilliant job of obliging us, starting with a sparkling sake and taking us through five more that were all very interesting, including one red rice sake, and one aged in bourbon casks.
I won’t go through every course, but will just mention the highlights:
Among the many amuse bouches was a crispy cod skin with cod stew and nori on top. It was a stunning bite with fantastic texture, and a perfect sweet, fishy flavor.
Another of my favorite- we were presented with a cloche, and when it was lifted, were left with smoked milk skin and cabbage, and billows of pungent smoke. The dish had an amazing smokiness, beautiful overall flavor, and texture.
On the menu, my favorite dish of the night was the langoustine. It was cooked to perfection, with a perfect crispy chip underneath and a lovely citrus note.
The second best dish of the night was a new dish on the menu, a perfectly cooked piece of monkfish. The flavor was outstanding, it was smoky, herbaceous, and packed such a punch. They brought three pieces of smoked wood chips to the table to add some smell.
The third best dish was a nettle porridge. It was crunchy, and had a lovely savory umami flavor. I am still dreaming about that dish one week later.
Finally, the first of the two desserts was an incredible maple and rhubarb crispy disc, with such a stunning presentation, and a beautiful crunch for texture. It was not too sweet, not too sour, a perfect balance. It is one of the best desserts I have had in my life.
Wow is all I can say.
Worth going? Absolutely, it was a night with some brilliant bites, the most notable being those where the chef really let the sublime ingredients sing.
The first thing of note is the footman, who recognizes you by name as you arrive at the door. You enter a small, cozy restaurant that is warm and intimate. We were lucky enough to be seated at the counter overlooking the prep kitchen. As a result we got to speak with several of the chefs and servers at length, all of whom were very friendly and obliging.
First, on alcohol, we went for the wine pairing, which went well with the dishes, though I was not over the moon about any of the wines on their own. At Frantzen they give one wine to last several courses, and replenish your glass often- which I found nice.
I won’t go through every course, but will just mention the highlights:
As a first bite, we were given a corn macaron filled with foie gras that was stunning
A few dishes later came a chawanmushi with truffle, which was the best chawanmushi I have had in my life.
Later came a plump langoustine tail with crispy rice on the bottom, cooked so perfectly that the heavens opened when I bit into it.
The best dish of the night was a bowl with 52 different vegetables, each prepared separately and then assembled together into a divine bowl.
Of the two meat courses, one was stunning- guinea fowl with shaved walnuts. The dish was so perfectly umami and savory.
At the very end of the dinner came a small dish of fresh backed cardamom buns that were the highlight amount the desserts.
Overall a lovely, intimate, top notch meal.
Worth going? Yes, this place is especially good for a sunset romantic dinner with your partner. And added benefit is that its open on a Sunday night. You walk in to a very cool industrial space in an old boat yard. Up in the rafters there are beautifully restored wooding boats, artfully hung, and from the floor to ceiling glass windows you overlook the canal.
We sat at one of the communal tables on very nicely restored wooden folding chairs.
On drinks- the waitress was not great at picking wines to go with the meal, and we didn’t like either of her recommendations.
We ordered the famous dried pork neck. It was tasty without being too salty, and had a subtle flavor. We ordered another of the “snacks”, the Jerusalem artichoke chips with chicken fat dip. It was delicious but a minuscule portion of perhaps six or seven chips in total.
The bread bowl was delicious.
As an appetizer we had cod and asparagus with dill and sour cream, the dish was sublime. For the mains we had the gnocchi, which were tasty and had a good texture but the rest of the elements on the dish confused things, and overall it was quite oily.
Then we had the marinated Norwegian king crab, it was finger lickin' good. The marinade was buttery and delicious, and the legs had already been cracked open so was not too much work. The crab was cooked to perfection.
On the side we had roasted Jerusalem artichoke, which was perfect, and beets with cream and brown butter, also so tasty.
By the end we were too full for dessert. Overall a lovely meal in a very cool and romantic setting.
Smorgasbord at the Grand Hotel
Worth going? Yes, one of the few good meals available for Saturday lunch. The smoked, cured and picked fish selection is fantastic. I had a beautiful soup to compliment the cold cuts, then moved on to the fresh, tasty salads, before a dish of delicious meatballs and grated potatoes cooked with anchovies. The desserts that I tried were all very tasty as well. As buffets go, this is one of the best I have had, and a great way of tasting the best of typical Swedish cuisine and products.
In addition to the meals, we went to Vete-Katten for a slice of princess cake and a cinnamon bun. The princess cake was heavenly, with the perfect amount of marzipan- though the slice gives you a real sugar rush. But the cinnamon bun there was no good.
By contrast the cinnamon bun, and the best coffee in town, can be had at Johan & Nyström- I strongly recommend it. Also had very good coffee at Coffice.
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