Zooming in on plant-based with a focus on flavor
Claim to fame: Intelligent vegetarian cooking that makes it a no-brainer to skip animal proteins.
Reason to go: Star chef Paul Svensson’s collaboration with central Stockholm’s famed biodynamic garden of Rosendals.
To look out for: Artworks by the world’s leading photographers, in fierce competition with stunning views of Stockholm’s inner archipelago.
An outstanding venue where famous stars manifest their magnum opuses in two ways: in the obvious, as master photographer Anton Corbijn is currently doing in the main gallery of this renowned museum of contemporary photography, and in the unexpected, as the 2016 Global Gastronomy Award winner Dan Barber recently did during his one-night only guest appearance. Barber’s dinner fixated on underrated, under-used and even unwanted edibles, putting greens in the spotlight, thereby perfectly mirroring resident chef Paul Svensson’s philosophy of creating innovative plant-based dishes. Svensson’s restaurant is probably Sweden’s most cutting-edge veggie-forward establishment.
The house doctrine is unambiguous: we have to convert to a plant-based gastronomy, one where animal protein isn’t outright forbidden, but where it’s demoted from lead- to supporting role. Emphasizing this credo, Svensson and his team excel in extracting a cornucopia of flavors from carefully selected plants, some of which are harvested daily at Rosendals Garden. The team is also supremely skilled at bringing out umami aplenty. A halved, oven roasted onion is paired with mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke chips and an elegant truffle cream, it completely obviates the need for that optional addition of animal protein. Though if you really insist on having a piece of meat or fish you may order it as an extra, you will, however have to accept the kitchen’s choice of the day; pan-fried skrei cod for example, or entrecote of grass-fed young bull.
This vegetable preoccupation is by no means hardcore dogma, it’s merely meant to help you shift your focus and adopt a more sustainable relationship to food. An egg poached in its own shell? Crack it and watch its perfectly creamy content slide into the chicken hotpot that you’ve topped with gloriously fresh vegetables from your personal, tabletop tray. A cold Lebanese cabbage roll of blackened pointed cabbage is beautifully folded around a tartare of bulgur, stewed cabbage, coriander, chile and mint that also hides little pieces of finely chopped reindeer, a subtle postcard from that other world. If you’re still not convinced by Svensson’s virtuosity, you will be when you try his apple pizza, a piece of wafer-thin puff pastry gentility, served in a takeaway box.
The museum charges admission, if you only wish to visit the restaurant, let the staff know and they’ll guide you directly there without making you pay the entrance fee. The dining area is cavernous yet intimate, a riddle to fathom how a room with 100+ seats can feel cozy. The busy open kitchen contributes to making the space welcoming, as does the unassuming interior: rough exposed beams meet black chairs and industrial lamps (think 1950s), all against a backdrop of dark wood flooring, black and white photos and huge windows framing a proud view of Stockholm’s inlet at its most picturesque.