Stockholm’s stellar restaurants

Culinary coups, from blackened deer heart with cress to Turkish kebabs with a punch

Image: Philip Karlberg

For a weekend break, Stockholm is pretty much a perfect destination. A compact and beautiful city, not overrun with tourists, with some excellent bars and restaurants, plenty of fine galleries and museums, and a mere two-and-a-half hours on BA from London City.

I went on a sunny weekend in autumn, the Baltic shimmering under blue skies, and took a tram to the island of Djurgården. This is home to several museums, including the magnificent Vasa Museum, which houses a 17th-century warship that sunk on her maiden voyage.

Melody Hotel restaurant, Stockholm
Melody Hotel restaurant, Stockholm

For fans of Sweden’s own Fab Four, there is also ABBA the Museum, worth visiting just for its collection of outrageous costumes; next door, the Melody Hotel has a smart little restaurant in which you can sip langoustine soup while you try to get Super Trouper out of your head.

Also on Djurgården is the lovely Rosendals Trädgård, a big organic garden that boasts a café, shop and bakery; and Stockholm’s best‑known chef, Mathias Dahlgren, tends one of its plots of land.

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He has two restaurants in the Grand Hotel: the upscale Matsalen, which offers an eight-course tasting menu, and Matbaren (pictured), its laid-back, bistro-style sibling. The latter is a splendid place to discover Scandinavian ingredients refashioned by a master of his craft: Norwegian scallops, winningly matched with slices of raw, snowy-white mushrooms, white soy sauce and brown butter. Or deer heart from the south of Stockholm, blackened on the outside, tender and creamy within, scattered with cress, fennel and toasted-rye breadcrumbs.

The vegetables are superb: broccoli served on pumpkin purée, strewn with hazelnuts and shavings of aromatic summer truffle. And sweet, earthy beetroot – from Rosendal – paired with goat’s cheese and black sesame seeds. Matbaren is not plush, but the food is joyously, upliftingly clean-flavoured.

Rosendals Trädgård, Stockholm
Rosendals Trädgård, Stockholm | Image: Tin-Tin Jersild

Dahlgren is a contributor to the restaurant guide Where Chefs Eat, in which he recommends the fried Baltic herring at Strömmingsvagnen, a van parked near the Slussen Tunnelbana. The queues testify to its popularity; I cannot, because I tried another of his recommendations instead.

Amida Kolgril, in trendy Södermalm, is a small Turkish restaurant where kebabs are grilled over charcoal and anointed with a punchy chilli sauce. You need not be a chef on his day off to fall for the smoky, fatty charms of a shish – just don’t expect to have room for fried herring afterwards.

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