Über-fine: fine dining redefined
Claim to fame: The most extravagant, and costly, dining experience Stockholm has to offer
Reason to go: If ever there was a time and a place for over-indulgence, it’s here and now
To look out for: The restrooms. We’ll let you discover their charms for yourself
Two years ago Frantzén Restaurant, then situated in a minuscule venue in Stockholm’s Old Town, shut its doors to revamp its concept in a more three star-worthy way, not that Frantzén wanted to do much to the food, he purposely didn’t touch that, it had more to do with everything else. 75 million SEK (roughly 10 million USD) later, the doors opened to an über-extravagant dining experience, a lavish show performed on three floors, complete with boundless elegance and low key luxury. We know the new, 500 square meter premises in the center of Stockholm are state-of-the-art, down to every last brick, yet they’re not pompous, in part thanks to the impeccable but warm and personal service extended to the 23 guests, the same number as before, only in a substantially grander space. Now that’s what we call upscaling. A hitherto unparalleled army of chefs is stationed behind the gastro-bar-counter in a busy but meticulously choreographed ballet, shouldering every aspect of the dining experience, except the wine pouring. The most impressive feat of all, however, is that the guests are actually encouraged to have fun.
Yes, the genteel reception on the ground floor is impressive, as is the extra-slow, smooth elevator ride with its tailor made soundtrack, and the lounge with a view, complete with a crackling fire and appetizer-pushing chefs. But it’s when we descend the dark staircase and enter the dining room that it really dawns on us: we’re witnessing an empire strikes back-second coming of fine dining, anno 2017. The room is dominated by a monumental bar counter, behind which there’s much frenzied activity; fires blazing, pastry chefs tweezing minute decorations on desserts. Once seated in the very comfy bar chairs our feather light Zalto glasses are filled with exquisite drops of Junmai Daiginjō sake. Groovy beats (a tad bolder in volume than the norm) fill the air as Head Chef Björn Frantzén explains the first course, brought out fancy-style on a serving tray; delicate roses of raw scallop and paper thin slivers of baby turnips, for us to combine at will with scallop roe-emulsion, grated horseradish and herbal salt.
Forget the old fine dining gastro-temples with their hushed conversations. Frantzén is all about action-packed, engaging dining with DIY-elements and chefs who finish the dishes within nose-range of their guests for a value-added bonus of aromatic impact; lemon zest micro-planed over freshly grilled, licorice-glazed sweetbread skewers, herbs mashed in a mortar for the signature vegetable dish satio tempestas, inspired by the Roman concept of satisfaction through seasonal flavors.
Another novelty is Björn Frantzén sharing center-stage. The countless servings, combined with the gastro-bar concept, demand variation in presentation, something that’s been elegantly solved by letting a handful co-chefs partake in the activity. While the food might not be mind-blowingly innovative, at least not for those of us who visited the old restaurant, everything is almost absurdly sumptuous–and superbly executed, even more so than previously. Like the Frantzén “classic” of crisp, butter-fried French toast topped with a delectably umami-salty vacche rosse cream, a hundred year aged balsamico, and of course, ludicrous amounts of australian black winter truffles, shaved thin to near transparency. Or the pitch-perfect turbot with its rich sauce of fermented white asparagus jus and noisette butter, topped with a hefty portion of Frantzén’s branded gold selection Oscietra.
For a fine dining scene trying to find its footing amidst the new wave of casual dining, Frantzén is a breath of fresh air. And even if the investors may not expect a quick return on their 75 million investment, the price tag comes with the territory: this is Stockholms most expensive dining experience to date.