Stockholm trip report
We arrived very tired and hungry after a long flight and were happy to stumble upon the breakfast at one of the Scandic hotels. The buffet was consistent with a higher end hotel, much better than what we had at most of our hotels. I mention this because we had a favourable impression of the place and they are a chain though out Scandinavia. Couldn't tell what the rooms are like though.
Our first night we ate at Pelikan, a pub serving home style food which apparently dates back several hundred years. We had pickled herring three ways, a salad, potato dumplings filled with morels, and Swedish meatballs. Everything was flavourful, properly seasoned and large portions. We didn't have room for dessert. Service was excellent and it seemed well priced for Stockholm. A good option for a place with some history and traditional food.
Day two we ate lunch at Matbaren, this is the 1* Michelin more casual companion to the 2* Matsalen by chef Mathias Dahlgren. We were told that portions were midsize and it was suggested we order a dish, see how we feel and then order another and so on. We ordered the fried fish and langoustines. I expected plated food with many components given the chef's reputation, so I was a little surprised by the simplicity of the food. The fish was lightly breaded and fried and came with a half carrot, a half celery stalk, and radishes, all raw and some salty potatoes. My girlfriend loved this dish and raved about it throughout the trip. The three langoustines came in their shells complete with handy wipes. We had a chocolate fondant and rhubarb crumble for dessert. We were satisfied with just two dishes each. Even though I had different expectations, I would be quite happy eating hear everyday. Service was engaging and attentive and the pricing was appropriate for the quality of the food. My preference is for simpler ingredient driven cuisine and given what we saw at Matbaren, Matsalen may be worth a try.
That night we ate at Mistral another 1* Michelin. If you plan on visiting this restaurant, I recommend taking taxi since it was difficult to find. The room can probably only seat 12-18 people and we were one of three tables. Service was informal, to the point that he was wearing a t-shirt inside out, and run mainly by one of the chefs. The head chef was away and the whole show was being run by his two chefs. Apparently Mistral will be closing at the end of this year so the chef can focus on family. The style of food was what one normally associates with New Nordic Cuisine. Pork was featured heavily through this 7 course meal. Attention was paid to plating, showcasing various textures, contrasting earthier elements with meat, and maintaining mostly classic pairings. Because most plates featured small amounts of various ingredients the food struck me as more intellectual, pondering over how contrasting elements worked, rather than being smothered with the pleasure of a larger portion of one elements. Much attention was paid to wine pairings which worked with the overall intensity of the plate and the dominant element. These were some of the best wines of the trip. There was even an excellent tea pairing. Service was very engaging and the pacing was good. Our chef/server was super passionate about the work they were doing and it was nice to share in their enthusiasm. I'm glad we tried it and it was fairly priced for the type of meal.
Bakfickan is an informal bar counter restaurant which focuses on traditional Swedish food and is part of the more formal Opera Bar restaurant. I really liked the look and intimacy of the room. Like many restaurants we tried, not many apps are offered. My girlfriend has the meatballs and I had the seared hake. The meatballs were a little more flavourful than Pelikan's and the hake came with mashed potatoes and a roux based seafood sauce. The berry tart which was listed as the one offered at Opera Bar was very basic and needed a flakier crust. Overall the food was competent, a little higher in price than Pelikan, but nothing to rave about.
The last restaurant worth mentioning was Urban Deli. This is found in the tale end of a high end food/grocery store. This is a busy spot in a hipster area and come with all the attitude. The hipster look seems to come naturally for the skinny legged dandies with Hitler youth haircuts in Stockholm. Service wasn't quite rude as much as just not really there, granted they were busy. I really wanted to hate the place but the food was quite good. The food was simple and relied on quality ingredients. My tuna nicoise came with a large portion of barely seared tuna, green brand, various olives, that now classic Noma style baked egg yolk, and tomatoes. Everything was bright and fresh. The prawns in their shell, tomato salad and bufula mozzarella were also of good quality. Pricing was not cheap but in line with the quality of ingredient. I can ssee why as a neighbourhood spot it would be popular but I wouldn't go out of my way.
Stockholm is a great city I would be happy to return to and try some of their other higher end options.
My experience with Matbaren mimic:ed yours almost exactly. I was a bit underwhelmed with the tiny and simewhat simple dishes (I had 3 "midsize" portions in total) but ended up liking the place a lot, especially for its informality and pleasant/natural service. I will most likely come back here in the future.
Thanks for the info on Mistral. I have a booking there for my coming biz trip in August and I've never visited before. I'm looking forward to it a lot, esp. after reading about your experience at the place.. Btw.: It doesn't have a michelin star.
I should note, I mentioned it was fairly priced, upon looking at my credit card statement, it was higher then I remembered. It was $500 CAD for two of us with wine pairing, which is not outrageous considering the wines were good. I was confused about the star rating. They had a star at one point and it looks like they lost it when they moved. Hope you enjoy.