A cardinal of the New Nordic gospel commits heresy
Claim to fame: A founding father of the New Nordic dogma trashes the whole belief system by switching to a multi-ethnic “plant forward” cuisine.
Reason to go: The colossal power of sharply articulated flavors, derived from both local and far-flung plants.
To look out for: Truffle overload: they’re used liberally wherever anemic carbs need beefing up. They also make the hefty bill worth its while.
Furiously fighting the inevitability of a “hall of fame” twilight, Mathias Dahlgren decided to rethink his legendary fine dining restaurant from the bottom up, throwing out his two stars along with the much-heralded Ilse Crawford-designed interiors and the New Nordic philosophy – utter heresy, coming from the only Swedish signatory of the original 2004 Manifesto. It took a lot of balls to replace this sophisticated shrine to locavore gastronomy with an ovo-lacto vegetarian canteen. Launching it in late winter when there is nothing local available, save for tired root veggies, was perhaps a stroke of genius or divine inspiration. The new faith could not be more bombastically declared than through this glut of chili, lime, avocado, mango, peanuts and coriander – akin to Luther nailing his new thesis to the church door. The chock-therapy included paying 200 SEK for a plate of Vietnamese-style, grated carrots, a dish that immediately became the talk of the town, eliciting both thumbs up and thumbs down.
Initially wobbly, the performance has now stabilized, landing on a higher level, aided by more generous seasons, allowing local produce to take some leading roles. Nettles, showing their iron fists, take command over fresh garlic and mustard seeds, and crisp bits of kale fight their way through a thick layer of summer truffle shaved over chubby gnudi in brown butter. Increasingly Dahlgren is also resisting the temptation of simply serving top-quality, high-flavor produce “as is”; you don’t want to pay 400 SEK for a plate of plants if there’s no cooking involved, even if it’s white asparagus in season. The kitchen shows off its skills in dishes such as the potent chunk of fennel, with its faint echo of licorice still lingering after first being marinated in wine and herbs, then brutally braised and finally served with a velvety potato cream and chewy hazelnuts. Dahlgren’s sharply articulated plant-based gastronomy like this recently earned the restaurant a position on the “Plant-forward Global 50” list by EAT Foundation and CIA, The Culinary Institute of America.
Dishes appear Chinese style when ready, and there is no inherent logic except for the final sweet section. There’s no plating either as everything’s meant to be shared, so be warned, the blond wooden tables get rather messy after a while. Wines – offered as either exquisite, funky, full-bodied or light – can easily be substituted for plant-based cocktails throughout the meal. A close collaboration between the bar and the kitchen, these creations truly add to the experience. The homemade kombucha poured over a glass of tasty red berries is the best non-alcoholic aperitif in town, and the rutabaga-based cocktail is a signature drink if there ever was one; raw juice of swedes (yes, rutabaga’s other name is in fact “swede”) gets edgy with a kick of ginger and lime. The concoction based on umeshu plum wine topped with tofu foam and flakes of nori is almost like drinking sushi.