Stockholm has some fine examples of the new Nordic cuisine that has firmly established itself as one of the world’s foremost, when it comes to combining traditional techniques and local ingredients with serious inventiveness (we’re looking at you, Rene Redzepi!).
While you shouldn’t completely bypass the classic iterations of meat and potatoes (and seafood, and veg….) when in Sweden – and you’ll find some delicious versions of it all over, including the Östermalms Saluhall market – not to be missed in the city’s trendy dining scene is Gastrologik. This hip Michelin star restaurant is run by chef duo Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr, who have a shared pedigree of top fine dining restaurants, having worked with the likes of Pierre Gagnaire and Mathias Dahlgren. What they also have in common is a singular passion for hyper-local, seasonal, high-quality produce, which is reflected in their food – I can’t say menu, because there isn’t one in the conventional sense of the word, each day’s dishes are developed according to what is available, and tailored to guests’ preferences.
The intimate restaurant is designed in typically Scandinavian minimalist style, with clean lines allowing the food to take centre-stage, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it signage at the door, and an open bar-style kitchen allowing diners to enjoy watching the army of hipster chefs practice their craft. With such next-level dedication to quality ingredients – Jacob and Anton know all of their producers personally – the results are bound to be exceptional.
While I cannot predict what you will eat at this temple of gastronomy, you can be sure that each intricate course in the degustation experience will offer up an explosion of unexpected flavours, textures and combinations, with a good measure of playful whimsy.
Whether it’s cured reindeer with whey butter and (the quintessentially Swedish) lingon berries; Sea urchin with pointed cabbage and roses; Cod tongue with celeriac porridge; Rutabaga (Swede) with plums and pumpkin seeds; Guineafowl liver with hazelnuts and apple; or locally reared hare with beets and blackcurrant mead, each dish is much more than the sum of its parts, and fittingly awe-inspiring.
Their desserts are no less impressive, with something as innocuous as honey being elevated to ecstasy-inducing levels, incorporating both beeswax and pollen alongside traditional honey in a sublime concoction; others range from spelt porridge with frozen buttermilk and apples, to grown up’s candy with resin (it’s like popping candy, with a shot of alcohol).
I left after an 18-course meal with a printed copy of our day’s menu (which had been tailored according to dietary requirements and preferences, naturally); a little booklet introducing several of the restaurant’s key producers and suppliers and the owner’s personal relationships with them; and a feeling of not just being satiated, but more importantly, intelligently stimulated; this isn’t just food that tastes good, this is food that provokes thought.
Pssst: If you can’t snag a reservation at Gastrologik, try Speceriet next door, a casual bistro from the same team (one of many such restaurants in Stockholm, called backfikas, where big chefs and restaurants operate a casual outlet to make their food more accessible), where ingredients also play the starring role.
A version of this review has been previously published in Food & Travel Arabia magazine.