Stockholm is undergoing a quiet gastronomic revolution in an understated Swedish style. Francesca Peak selects the coolest places to taste crisp-bread, cinnamon buns, sushi, salad and reindeer.
This fashionable hangout just off the main shopping street is the result of an affair between classic Swedish plates and homestyle French cooking. Red and white gingham tablecloths, a bustling, but intimate vibe and a lengthy menu all hint to the comforting meal ahead. Cocktails are top-notch and there’s a generous wine list to keep you busy after you’ve perused the fish-heavy menu (to choose meat here is a sin). Choose a typical Swedish starter of herring and cheese, or indulge in the fresh seafood platter, before moving on to the poached turbot or salted cod. The liquorice crisp-bread is dangerously addictive.
When you arrive at a small cafe off a fairly nondescript street and see a queue at 8.30am on a Saturday, you know you’ve picked a good spot. Tear your eyes from the mesmerising mosaic floor to the kitchen and you’ll see huge breakfast burritos and bowls of steaming porridge being rushed onto tables, along with the heady smell of fresh, rich coffee. However, it’s the buns that are the real star of the show: enormous cardamon and cinnamon buns are stacked at the front of the counter, tempting you as you place your order for a chia bowl and skinny latte. Give in to temptation: they’re packed with flavour and will keep you full until you’re craving another mid-afternoon.
A short 10-minute walk from the bustling Stureplan is Hantverket, the city’s newest self-aware cool place – thankfully without a snotty attitude – to enjoy a bite while spotting the latest trends on young Stockholmers. Although the entrance leads you straight into the restaurant, veer left to the bar and enjoy a perfectly crafted martini while perusing the rather succinct dinner menu. What they lack in length they make up for with innovation: try the duck with blueberries and rose petals for a more fragrant take on the typically heavy bird, and be sure to try a locally-sourced slab of reindeer.
Stockholm institutions don’t get much sweeter than this. Founded in 1928 by the determined Ester Nordhammar, the patisserie serves freshly baked treats and bread, and the most indulgent hot chocolate the city has to offer. Pop in to grab a baguette and coffee or venture behind the glass counter and into the traditional house with its tables tucked away into secret corners and adorable design details. Like stepping into a grandmother’s cottage, the smell of baking draws you in, and before you know it, you’re sitting at a table with a blueberry bun and pot of tea. Some places just have that effect, and this is certainly one of them.
When you’re in a country famed for its minimalist designs, it seems only natural to look to a cuisine loved for its simplicity and neatness. Sweden, meet Japan. The sushi-heavy menu here is dotted with Asian favourites, from curries to noodles and dumplings, with the odd ceviche thrown in for good measure. Every dish packs a punch, whether in its subtle flavours or the spiciness of its chilli flakes, and all are brought to your table sharing-style with scary efficiency. Go for a sushi platter at lunch and while away the afternoon with a carafe of warm sake.
The very thought of going out for a salad may strike fear into the hearts of some, but there’s no chance you’ll leave Doctor Salad with a rumbling tummy. Served in huge boxes with optional protein on the side, vegetables are spiralised, dressed and chopped to delicious perfection, and each box is a mesmerising kaleidoscope of health. Pair your box with a soup and pile of homemade flaxseed crisp-bread and have a seat in their kitsch but tiny cafe, watching the world go by.