Connecting palate, food system and science
Claim to fame: Exploring how restaurants can reach global sustainability goals
Reason to go: The chef’s ways of elevating root vegetables
To look out for: Bespoke Swedish heirloom legumes at their best
Don’t let The Restaurant Lab’s location––on a university campus––lower your expectations, this breakfast and lunch spot is far from a ho-hum student café.
Here, the intriguing lunch buffet features mostly plant-based dishes, complemented by a few fish-, seafood- and meat options. Start with the refreshing ceviche of heirloom peas with tomato, chili, lime and coriander, or perhaps the comforting slices of roasted yellow beets topped with lemon crème fraiche. Heirloom Nordic legumes and locally grown root vegetables are standard issue here. Both the honey-roasted cabbage with chili and the oil- and garlic redolent, lightly confited tomatoes exhibit the way this kitchen brigade coaxes huge flavors out of each ingredient.
Specials are designed to please carnivores and vegans alike; classic Danish “aebleflæsk”, aka crispy pork belly with Swedish apples and fresh herbs; baked cabbage with isterband, a traditional smoked sausage; and a meatless ”baljväxtfärs”, or ground beef-mimicking mince of native legumes––lupin beans, field peas, fava beans and rapeseed pulp, pan fried with herbs and spices.
A choice of three hearty condiments adds character; tomato and chorizo mayo; mustard mayo; and pesto made with sunflower seeds and Danish cheese.
How much you pay depends on what you pick and what your plate weighs, €10+ being the average price of a Lab feast. It’s thought provoking as it makes you guestimate the weight of each buffet item and forces you to ponder how much food you actually need to satisfy your hunger. It also makes you think twice about throwing away leftovers.
Most, though not all ingredients are locally sourced, and, commendably, roughly half of the offerings are made with “rescued” ingredients owing their inclusion to expired best-before-dates, lack of demand, over-production or logistical issues.
How will wholly sustainable restaurants operate in the future? What will they serve? What will food taste like when all ingredients are sourced from sustainable farms? These are questions that The Restaurant Lab will attempt to answer while conducting research with scientists at KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology.
To be sure, these are ambitious challenges, but as long as the gustatory experience is kept on such a high level, this project will be fascinating to follow.