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Having recovered from the sticker shock of just about everything in Stockholm, I decided to try to forget the all-too-simple exchange rate and not worry about what I was spending. It’s hard not to notice that your 200 SEK lunch just set you back £20 for a salad and a soda but I made a valiant effort to stick it all on a credit card and think about it later. One restaurant that came up in my research as good value was 12 Kungstensgatan, a chic little place that specialises in small plates to share. Now, I am not a huge fan of the small plate phenomenon. It started in New York when I lived there and seemed to be mostly a way for restaurants to charge not much less than main course prices for not much more than appetiser portions. As someone who regularly gets nervous that tapas will leave me broke and hungry, the prospect of artfully arranged modernist plates at £13 a pop is alarming, to say the least. So, a small plate place in Stockholm as “good value” seemed a strange idea but one I was willing to test out. Read the rest of this entry »

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A research trip to Stockholm is providing my latest opportunity for international culinary adventure. I might be slightly held back by the cost though – I spent £25 (about $50) on a three-day metro card and about the same for a sandwich and a coffee in the airport. Eek! I think I’m going to have to forget I know the exchange rate and just put things on my credit card and worry about it later. One thing I did notice in my brief bout of Internet research on the Stockholm restaurant scene is that the fancier the restaurant, the less exorbitant the prices seem. A cheap lunch is several times more than it would be in the UK but a high end meal is just 10% or so more. So clearly, the fancy places are a better deal and I should go there, right?

On our first night we went to Södra Theatre restaurant, which has a beautiful outdoor terrace overlooking the city. Even better, they give you free blankets when the temperature drops, so you can wrap up and enjoy your after dinner drinks in coziness. It’s like a slanket service – genius!

Our starter was amazing: a crayfish and pickled apple roll with Avruga caviar and cheese bread. The pickled apple was sliced thinly and formed the outside of the rolls; the inside was stuffed with fresh crayfish. Little sweet caviar piles were joined by some kind of honey sauce. The whole thing was spectacularly good and completely fulfilled my hopes for new Nordic cuisine.

The main courses were a little disappointing after such a beautiful beginning, and all of us reported a heavy hand with the salt. But they weren’t bad – just not revelatory. I had ox cheek braised in red wine with cheese-flavoured mashed potatoes, fried onions and pickled gherkins. The cheek was rich and meaty, though the potatoes tasted more of salt than cheese.

Consensus of opinion seemed to be that the best dish was lamb with chorizo, beans and lentils, which may have been because of its delicious roast garlic gravy.

We’d already watched desserts go by with some interest (especially the smaller members of our group) so despite being pretty full we went for apple and cardamom pie. The “pie” was deconstructed with apple slices rolled up and placed atop a crumbled base, with sides of custard, apple sorbet and addictive sour apple candy strips. As is often the case with high end restaurants, the smaller, more delicate dishes surpassed the meaty mains for inventiveness, originality and flavour.

I only have a couple of days here in Stockholm, but hopefully I can fit in another culinary foray. I’ll keep you posted.

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