Playful creativity with minimal pretense
Claim to fame: Two young chefs, brimming with creativity and joy, open their first restaurant
Reason to go: A gastronomic encounter between bespoke local- and Nordic produce and a very personal set of well-chosen, international influences
To look out for: The effortlessly brilliant non-alcoholic beverage pairing puts expensive juice presses to shame
Despite, or maybe thanks to the location––right by an intensely unsexy intersection––Etoile delivers a truly unique experience. The interiors feature brick walls and industrial lighting made of copper tubing, an austere look that is softened by striking wood panelling, a majestic chandelier and the staff’s relaxed attitude.
Etoile’s 20-course menu is firmly based on local- and Nordic ingredients from handpicked producers, though the chef duo, Jonas Lagerström and Danny Falkeman, don’t necessarily make a fuss about it. That decade-long trend of lecturing guests about the ingredients’ heritage and pedigree has become slightly tedious by now, respect for the producers can be paid in so many ways. Of course Etoile picks the highest quality ingredients available each day.
The dishes’ short, quirky names reveal Asian, French and Mexican influences. But watch out, names can be deceiving. “Dim Sum”, described by the waiter as “a bloody mary explosion”, is a delicate, tomato-shaped, red shell of white chocolate filled with tomato juice, celery, chili and fermented vodka jelly, served in a bamboo steamer. Yes, it does explode in your mouth. Cured pike-perch is presented “maki-style”, wrapped in thin cedar wood, it’s fired up tableside for some added drama, topped with freeze dried, grated tofu, and served with ponzu sauce. “Charcoal” is a tempura dish of pan-fried sweetbreads with black curry and a creamy dip of grilled apples. “Tom Kah Gai” takes the shape of an ice cream lollipop.
The wine pairing is designed to not overwhelm the guests; two consecutive dishes are matched with one and the same wine. All wines are apparently chosen for their unique styles, but they also have a certain transparency, allowing the food to shine. Be that as it may, we suggest you opt for the revelatory non-alcoholic pairing. The introductory “Umami Tea” consists of a tea bag with a bouillon cube that slowly dissolves in hot water, a perfect match for the small celeriac flower served on a bed of green grass. The “No Gin Tonic” is an acidic hit of cucumber juice, juniper berries, dill and cucumber jelly, the “Buckthorn Martini” is shaken tableside with ice, sea buckthorn juice and refreshing mandarin syrup.