I had already booked a cheap flight for the royal capitol of Sweden, and discarded the possibility of taking a taxi – a shared taxi to the airport
would cost MORE than the flight – so, waiting for the bus to take me, wandered about looking for a convenient glass of beer. Not to be found, to early.
Not yet beer o’clock (so SORRY, we open at 15 …).
After philosphizing over a latte and the latest issue of Decanter, increasingly realizing it holds very little information of value to me, and trying to see what makes it obvious, in any group of girls, who is the alpha female (failed), found myself going to the airport. Check in very smooth – almost too smooth, ”what’s your name?” ”Lindgren, do you want my ID?” ”Nah”, and it was done. Security measures on the other hand quite sharp (is that sonar they use on the shoes?).
Free seating on Kullaflyg and self is deceptively fleet of feet so got a good window seat – only to find the aisle seat occupied by a hunkish person who sat down, spreadlegged, arms crossed and encroaching my personal space, then falling (apparently) asleep, leaving close to 100 kg huddled hedonist trying to make himself comfy.
Desperate times: I ordered the long longed for beer, a Höganäs African Pale Ale from one of the most microscopic micro breweries imaginable (been there, not to be missed next time you visit Höganäs – after you cross the parking lot and have a burger in Garaget. Recommended).
The African Pale Ale is, essentially, an IPA, but the hops are African varieties, hence the name. Very dry, very fresh, very aromatic, passion fruit, grass … The accompanying mini-wrap was, in comparison, exactly as uninteresting as most airplane grub tends to be.
So I meet my wife, who is in the city for a conference, in the hotel lobby, I deposit my luggage in our room, and it’s out to eat. Duvel Café has been a recurring way station for yours truly since … 1990s? I am uncertain. Has been a place with a certain flair, despite being hallowed to beer, that rustic drink. As the name could indicate,
specializing in Belgian beers, often with a ”This week’s (or month’s) special beer” on a blackboard, and in the menu, some tips what beer to drink to which plate.
Not any longer, apparently. The menu is pre-printed (bad sign), and the number of beers listed is smaller than I remember. The inner dining room is, however, cosier, the walls a dark green color,
and the waiter is pleasantly personable in a sort of bistrot, informal, manner. A certain wait, but, glasses of fizz (Diebolt-Vallois, entry level) are produced (but not poured at the table) and the menu card presented.
There is a special shellfish menu from which we select ”a handful of shrimps with lemon mayo” and ”grilled red prawns”. With this, a glass
of Sancerre. The wine is a bit New Zealand, meaning, passion fruit and pineapple in the nose, but solidly Loire in the almost aggressiv acidity. Goes OK with the shellfish. These days, NZ and Loire SauvBlanc are getting closer – or, those we get here in Sweden, do at least – some NZ SBs are crisp, grassy, and gooseberry like a Sancerre while some Loire SBs are shockfull of tropical fruit like they harked from Marlborough. But I digress.
Shrimps are shrimps and grilled prawns are grilled prawns. The mayonnaise served with both of them appeared identical and industrymade. I got three prawns, having ordered the
starter measure (you could have them as a main dish), with some sallad. Not bad. The shrimps were served on ice and were quite adequate.
As a main dish, I selected osso bucco, an old favorite. According to the menu to be served with saffron risotto and gremolata. My wife chose the duck’s breast with truffled mashed potatoes, and, failing to find a suitable Italian, we decided on Chapoutier’s La Bernardine, Chateauneuf-du-Papes, if I remember correctly, 100 % grenache. Vintage was 2011, and in hindsight I should have asked to have it caraffe’d. Silly me, I am certain our waiter would have complied.
Now, osso bucco is not a dish that lends itself to elegance and refinery. What appeared on my plate was a couple of very well done slices of calf, with marrow, in a tomato sauce, quite tasty. My only complaint was that the saffron risotto could have done with some more saffron – apart from that, the risotto was creamy with rice
slightly al dente as I like it – and that I could not find the gremolata. A handful of watercress and a few grilled cherry tomatoes were, to my mind, surplus to requirement.
My wife was less than impressed with her duck’s breast – not anything wrong with the cooking, nor seasoning, but finding the presentation lacking in elegance and, above all,
vegetables. She also thought we had to wait too long for our food. Wine was as expected from Chapoutier, good work, not terribly exciting, but, good, though too young (hence my blooper
in not asking for a carafe). So, champers, starters wiv wine, and main dish also with wine comes to a grand total of SEK 2450 (including tips to the nice and friendly waiter).
Not cheap for what is essentially, today, a sort of brasserie, and not the idiosyncratic beer-oriented almost fine dining we remember. Of course, the bottle of wine is a heavy influence on the bill, almost SEK 1000. You could go there, have a bowl of mussles and a glass of muscadet at a much smaller price, and peraps enjoy yourselves more.
Not a place to avoid, as such.
So then we went out to find someplace where we could dance. Unfortunately, the only place we found music that appealed to us was on the sidewalk outside a Pizza Hut.
Well, there are precedents for dancing on the sidewalk, and the denizens watching the theatre of life passing them by even applauded, as we hope, appreciatively.
The morning after the night before, having the brunch-like breakfast of Radisson Blue Waterfront safely tucked under our respective belts saw us hit the town for some heavy duty shopping and encounter with the son and his young lady. When you shop, you shop (quote by Rue Paul) but, then you get hungry, amirite? Even after a brunch-like breakfast.
We decided on a restaurant in the Kungsgatan, called Rigoletto Bistro – and, the name has nothing to do with the opera, and everything to do with it replacing a movie theater with the name Rigoletto. It has a terrace, to wit, a row of tables and chairs a bit too close to the traffic (which is intense) for comfort, so, I opted
for a table indoors. Marble table tops, lots of red and brass in the interior, a black-board with today’s special – yes. Very much the Swedish idea of a French brasserie/bistro.
Service fast and friendly, orders quickly taken (lamb w red wine sauce and deep fried balls of mashed potatoes with goat’s cheese which the waiter pronounced che-VRAY).
Nice presentation and a glass of warm and rustic Languedoc wine, based on grenache and syrah from Domaine Paul Mas. Also very nice bread, by the way. A special mention for that.
Two double espresso and we are very satisfied with our lunch, even if the menu card is pre-printed (I have this thing about that). We will return, Madame held this restaurant to be better than Duvel, even, something I might not totally agree on until I have seen their offerings in the evening.
Meanwhile, somewhere else, the previously mentioned young lady was taking part in a 10 km course for ladies. We were going to go out and cheer but missed her. Tough.
Rather, later in the afternoon, we visited her and her young man in their new apartment – new, in the sense that they had another, less convenient, and have now moved to a house built in 1925 on what was then the outskirts of Stockholm, and is today inner city … OK, not quite inner city. We were treated to various Danish beers from
a microbrewery, Skovlyst (meaning, roughly, ”pleasure in the forest”), with appropriately forest-connotating names and all delicious – my favorite being the oat stout, with aromas of liquorice and star anise. Compared to my airplane beer, less dry, with a hint of sweetness. Try it, you might like it.
So, on for the evening libation. We had found a restaurant with aspirations and ambition, working on the today current ‘tapas’ like theme – you select several smaller dishes.
Here it was augmented by smaller servings of accompanying wine or, in one case, beer. A fine wine list exists, but we preferred sticking to their concept and order the wines recommended.
– I rather liked the venue. Festooned with gobelins, decorated with stucco, and the ceiling dampened to ameliorate acoustics, it gave a festive frame to the evening. Possibly a bit on the dark side, and, even with the dampeners, slightly loud-ish. The menu is a marker for your seating, and just pick and chose. Each small serving is marked with the ‘taste’ – ginger, wasabi, estragon … and to the right is the accompanying beverage. There are a total of 20 options, 5 of which are ‘sweet’.
A vegetarian menu with slightly fewer options also exist.
– Looking through the wines (and the solitary beer) I noted that, uncharacteristically, the whites dominated.
Further, the white wines were with few exceptions marked by a high acidity – riesling, sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc … and producers were solidly mainstream – Laroche, Henri Bourgeois, Brown Brothers, with little adventurousness.
The reason for the festivity was the birthday of the young man – he claims to be 40, but, needless to say, he does not fool me. Champagne as a pre-prandial – Diebault-Vallois again, this time the entry level blanc de blanc, nice apply notes, crisp and appetizing. Orders taken, we sat down to wait, and, indeed, wait we did. This was my main
complaint about this restaurant. After 2 hours, 4 of the seven dishes had been served, and, the wines for the dishes were served two by two, meaning, one glass stood unattended while the previous dish with accompanying wine was consumed. This means that every other wine was, on drinking, room temperature, which is not how I like
crisp, acidic, whites. Some changes would be appreciated here, I think. The dishes were very nicely presented, thought had been taken for the esthetics, I do like that.
The tasting glasses of wine were all priced at SEK 60 – they contained c 6-7 cl I’d guess, but, I may be wrong – did not bring a measuring glass. Not all pairings were to my taste (notably a Thai BBQ pork cheek with lots of chili with an Australian Shiraz) but, our guests were very pleased with the food, as was my wife. Me, perhaps not so much.
Service was professional but not particularly personal or involved, perhaps because we were in the last sitting, starting at 20:30. The price tag for 7 courses, four persons, with wine (in small quantities) and a glass of champagne came to c 4 500 SEK – this is in fact not a large sum, given the setting and the concept.
Did I like it? I am in two minds. I did not like drinking room temperature white wine, and, on the whole, I found the wine selections slightly dull. Some of the dishes could have done with a re-evaluation of the seasoning, e g a cock’s liver mousse with a carpaccio of wagyu, called ‘Ginger’, which barely tasted of ginger but was
in my opinion too salty. The liver mousse, in fact, did not need the carpaccio, it was very good in and of itself, while the saltiness was due to a too generous sprinkling of the beef with flake salt. I’d like to see a rethinking of wines and logistics, because, this night, service was too slow. Kitchen, I think, has some very clever cooks and some good ideas, some less good.
One option might be to try their lunch?
Next day it rained and we went back home.
263 39 Höganäs
076 611 05 05
Vasagatan 50, 111 20 Stockholm
08-23 48 20
Kungsgatan 16, 111 35 Stockholm
08-502 571 20
Skovlystvej 2, 3500 Værløse, Danmark
+45 44 98 65 45
Oxtorgsgatan 14, 111 57 Stockholm
08-22 09 52