Another business trip to Sweden, so another opportunity to seek out Nordic cuisine in Stockholm!
The first restaurant I had settled for was Gastrologik, the Michelin-starred restaurant headed by chefs Anton Bjuhr and Jacob Holmström, who have been working in stellar Parisian restaurants like L’Astrance***, Pierre Gagnaire***, Stockholm’s Mathias Dahlgren*, and Oslo’s – now-defunct – Bagatelle* among others.
Located in Östermalm, just a couple of streets outside the city center, next to the Armée museum, I almost missed it as all the curtains of the corner building were closed, and only a small plaque indicated the restaurant’s location. Inside, the hallway split the dining hall into two sections, with an estimated capacity of 25-30 diners altogether, with an open kitchen in the back. The setting was definitely Nordic design: modern, light, harmonious earth tones, loads of wood, glass, and ceramics (later, it was confirmed that everything in the restaurant was actually Swedish design). With the closed curtains, they want to make dining at Gastrologik an immersive experience, without distractions from passing cars and pedestrians.
I was seated on a (surprisingly comfortable) bench that ran along the entire corner wall and as such, had a nice view on the action in the kitchen and the adjacent serving station.
The card on the table was (intentionally) the only indication given of tonight’s menu: nothing regarding the size and the courses that would be served. Just the prices of the menu (SEK 1.595/€160/$195) and optional beverage pairing (SEK 1050/€105/$130), and on the back a brief explanation from the chefs on what is generally in season and consequently what they’d also be using last year’s (preserved) produce.
Cards with the actual menu of the day (it turned out to be a 10-course menu excluding a wide array of small nibbles before, during and after and 6 beverage pairings) will be included at the end of the evening inserted in a book highlighting their philosophy that great locally sourced seasonal and organic produce is the cornerstone of this restaurant. As a true extension of Nordic fine dining cuisine, the chefs work closely with a network of suppliers who are showcased in this book. Jacob and Anton proclaim that they put as much effort into finding, growing, and foraging great ingredients, as they put into cooking them. The produce that the suppliers think is best at any time will dictate what will be on the menu, so the actual menu can even change overnight.
Overall ambitious and delightful cooking with often unique and intense flavors, not crowded by using too many elements. Combined with seamless and friendly service and exciting beverage pairings, a visit to Gastrologik is a stand-out experience. At present, a one-Michelin-star restaurant, but in my experience and in comparison to the other Nordic cuisine restaurants I visited the past year, Kokkeriet*, Oaxen Krog**, Geranium*** and Volt*, a second Michelin star for Gastrologik would in my option be fully deserved.
Update: Gastrologik was awarded their second Michelin Star in February 2019
To chase the cold away (it was -6℃/21℉ outside), I was immediately welcomed with a delicious cup of heart-warming Forest Broth, infused with mushrooms, pine, and lingonberries.
Next up were some snacks for which I chose to sample an IPA from Stockholm Brewing (SEK 95/€9,50/$11,50).
- Quail Egg with soy and black garlic
- Black Pear, Reindeer jerky and black currants
- Crispy Kale with Rakfisk (salted and fermented arctic char) and ramson cream
- Tartelette with Chicken liver paté, Apple and Meringue
Then the actual menu started:
Tableside portioning of the Arctic char, which was grilled with pine in birch bark and served with lactic fermented carrots and spruce pesto. This fantastic dish which was accompanied by a 2016 Saint-Joseph Lyseras Blanc by Yves Cuilleron, Rhône, France.
Both the celeriac and quail dishes were accompanied by a 2013 Il Corzano (a Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend) by Corzano e Paterno, Tuscany, Italy.
As an extra nibble, there was a spicy and herbal snack:
On to the sweet section of the menu:
Ingrid Marie apple (frozen, dried, fermented, and fresh) with juniper berries and a shot glass of (juniper heavy) Härno’s Härno Gin, which was mixed with cucumber water and therefore served very well as a palate cleanser after the quail leg.
The next 2 desserts were accompanied by Malvasia Old Reserve 10-year-old by Barbeito, Madeira, Portugal.
This was definitely the most “out there” dish of the evening. Even after the meal, I wasn’t 100% sure I really loved it, but it was a daring combination of sweet, saline, and sour flavors nonetheless.
Kalvdans is a classic Scandinavian dessert stemming from the 17th century. It is made from unpasteurized colostrum milk, the first milk produced by a cow after giving birth. Mixed with water and carefully heated, the high levels of protein in milk make it coagulate and set, thus giving the dessert the jiggly pudding-like consistency and the literal origin of the name: “calf dance”.
Even paying the bill was cause for a final little snack: a grown-up’s beehive candy. The chilling cold of the night and flurry of snowflakes made the walk back to the hotel a fitting end of a memorable dinner.