Dinner Friday 10th, July 2015
I had a feeling about Frantzén after I watched their beautiful films and I knew it would fill me with happiness. Every time I venture to another world’s top 50 restaurant I am constantly amazed at how unique they all are. I guess that’s what makes them so special, its not just the food, but the whole experience and how they make you feel that sets them apart.
Frantzén did not disappoint.
Frantzén, Stockholm: Nordic meets Japan with a bird’s eye view
Chef: Björn Frantzén
Lilla Nygatan 21
111 28 Stockholm
Tel: 08 208580
Worlds best 50 restaurants: no 31 in the world 2015, no 23 in2014.
Michelin stars **
White guide Nordic: Number 9, total 92/100 with service 23/25 and food 38/40
Vibe: Swedish with a hint of the oriental, relaxed and elegant
Franztén was my first stop on this trip, having flown half way across the world, undeterred by jet lag, excited I headed to the restaurant the first night of my arrival. It was a hop, skip and a jump from down town Stockholm to Gamla Stan, the preserved, medieval epicentre of Stockholm. As my taxi pulled up to the front door, an auspicious, traditionally dressed man in a black hat, opened the car door and welcomed me by name. I was beckoned through the door as if a guest at a private dinner party.
The White Guide describes the 23 seater as “miniature format, maximum attitude” an apt description, as I was seated in the middle of the 8 place “sushi-like” bar, an arms length from service. The head chef, Marcus Jernmark, chanted one guest in the house, as he did numerically for the other diners as they arrived.
I was sitting in the middle of service, in a well-oiled kitchen at one of the finest restaurants in Stockholm.
The plating was done under the military command of the, head chef, who melodically called the orders for each table, which was followed by a chorus of “qui chef, qui chef” sung in unison from the 10 chefs.
There were 10 chefs for 10 courses; I was introduced to them all, half from around the globe. Lina Ahlin Olofsson, the only female amongst them was recently awarded the White Guide “Rising Star ” 2o15, recognition for young chefs with the greatest potential, go girl. The team had 2 services left before a month’s break. You would not have known, they were highly professional and friendly especially as they were under the close scrutiny of the 8 diners up close and personal at the bar. A small framed copy of the menu was placed to our left, so helpful, just wish a few other top restaurants would do the same.
A miniature, glass cloche was in front of me containing a 14 year old sourdough still proofing before baking, made from organic spelt sourced from an island 300 km south of Stockholm. The bread would be baked during the meal and served with a bar of the most incredibly, addictive, caramelised brown butter I have ever tasted.
A 10-course degustation with wine pairing was on offer.
Amuse bouche: Iced tea with white carrot ice
We were instructed to wait one minute before eating. The “Iced Tea” was made from a tomato reduction. A gold dusted, frozen, white carrot ball was plunged into the tea, and drops of oil infused with mint and carrot tops and a 100 year old balsamic vinegar floated on the top. A refreshing well-balanced beginning to a evening where there wasn’t one dud dish.
Foie gras macaroon, liquorice dust, rhubarb chip and 100 year old balsamic vinegar.
This delicate, savoury macaroon was filled with a creamy foie gras, layered with a wafer thin rhubarb chip, dusted with liquorice and finished with a dab of 100 year old balsamic vinegar.
Creamed & pressed potato with caviar “Gold” & vichyssoise
Served as three components, two in a double layered dish, the other a bowl of set soup. The two layers were composed of an oyster and leek cake on top and a creamy, pressed potato and caviar concealed below. The oyster and leek were ridiculously perfect with each other and the potato and caviar delicious. The set onion soup, toasted almond with goat’s cream was soft and creamy, and complimented its predecessors. I didn’t want this dish to end
Set onion soup, & toasted almond with goat’s cream
Deep fried langoustine & crispy rice
The perfectly cooked langoustine from the west of Sweden, coated with puffed rice, grilled and paired with dill butter emulsion was something else, the puffed rice adding texture and crunch.
King crab poached in beer with dill juice, aspic, wild char roe & emulsion of the guts
Crab is one of my favourite foods, every time I see it on the menu, a sense of excitement and anticipation follows. It was delivered, and I promptly delved into the dish, it was incredible.
As invariably happens with at least one dish, I was so excited I completely forgot to photograph the crab before eating it in its entirety. Soon after the diners to my left arrived, they could have been Swedish royalty, tall, beautiful with perfect chiselled faces, tanned skin and perfect blond hair. They were three courses behind me, hoping that they spoke English, I timidly explained my rash behaviour with the crab dish, and they kindly allowed me to photograph their crab. They were both so lovely, a married couple from Malmö, celebrating their first wedding anniversary and equally excited about the food.
Looks can be deceiving, it was my pick of the night and the beautiful people agreed. A late summer Norwegian crab, served in a broth, rich and lusty and matched perfectly with the wild char roe; deep orange and buttery and bursting with the flavours of the ocean.
Satio tempestas (hommage Lars Feddeck & Jan Andersson)
This dish was created in response to the abundance of greens and vegetables produced by Frantzén’s two gardens, winter and summer, tended by Lars and Jen. The dish varies from day to day to reflect seasonal availability. We were given the option of chopsticks, the obvious choice, as I delicately tasted the leaves, vegetables and edible flowers, in harmony with the sweetness of the tomatoes and butter and the saltiness of the fishy scales. The 44 vegetables were listed on a separate menu, you name it, served raw, marinated, steamed, dried, fried and creamed and topped with fish scales. It paid homage to the abundance of the summer and winter gardens. A standard dish since 2009, that simply means “satisfying fullness of seasons”.
Freshly bread with the most amazing crust arrived soon after having been baked and grilled in the oven at 300°C. It was accompanied by its partner in crime a bar of the famous brown butter. The brown or noisette butter was a new experience for me; it had an intense flavour of caramelised lactose. It was so moorish.
Slowly baked turbot, unami puree, churned butter with broth of the bones
The butter for this delicate dish was first churned, then made into a sauce with the a broth from turbot bones, infused in a saucepan over a table top kettle for a few minutes. The melt in the mouth turbot, had been cooked for three hours, topped with a precise amount of wild garlic and capers and paired with the Icelandic kelp umami puree. It was a thoughtful and beautiful dish.
Guinea fowl with eggs, dried ramson & smoked, stuffed morels, perigord truffle purée with the vinaigrette of roasted skin
The guinea fowl was French in origin and paired well with a taste from home, the superior Perigord truffles from Western Australia, currently in season. The vinaigrette made from the roasted guinea fowl skin and wild garlic oil was balanced and flavoursome. The stuffed morels were served in a separate bowl and filled with forcemeat and truffle puree, an absolute treat. It was a beautiful elegant dish, a picture on a plate and equally delicious.
Kagoshima vs Dairy cow with cooking jûs, toasted hay oil, Tellicherry pepper & grilled beef & fermented mushroom tea
Age versus beauty, with the 40 day aged old dairy cow winning hands down in the flavour department. The young brash Grade 2, Wagu, wining in texture, melted within seconds in your mouth whereas the dairy cow required a bit more effort. They were equally delicious and enhanced by the beef tea.
Tellicherry peppers are considered the best in the world, whole black peppers that are left on the vine longer so that they develop a deep, rich flavour. At this stage of the meal, like the first viewing of a great movie, its not surprising that you miss some crucial parts of the dish, I did not appreciate the prized pepper was and missed the subtleness of the hay oil. I guess I could be forgiven as the meats were the heroes of the dish and the tussle was between them.
Smoked ice cream with salted date toffee, bitter cacao beans & hazelnut
Like a créme brûlée, a sauce of cacao beans and hazelnut, was drizzled onto the salted date toffee that cracked open perfectly to reveal the smoky ice cream, a delicious start to the dessert trail.
Frozen wild strawberries, whipped roses, tonka bean cookie with red rosaceae & tomato marmalade
The tonka bean custard and red rosacae and tomato marmalade laid the foundation for this beautiful dessert, skilfully assembled in front of us. The city market had been filled with summer berries, the strawberries so ripe you could almost inhale them as you waltzed past. Likewise this dish was brimming with ripe summer strawberries, light and refreshing.
Bento box with fika
Fika pronounced feekah, noun or verb, is a Swedish coffee break of sorts with a bit more, a social event where you meet with friends and discuss life. The tradition of serving a minimum of seven cookies at the end of a dinner party dates back to the 1800’s. Fika meets Japan, delicate “cookies” were layered in a Japanese Bento box in keeping with the oriental theme that subtly flowed through the evening. Various tiny delights included:
Crispy lingoberry with aged vinegar, chervil & anise
Lemon marmalade, blueberry & lemon thyme
Tartlette with preserved blackberry, violets & meringue
Fudge with goat’s whey & fleur de sel
Cannelé de Bordeaux with buckwheat & chestnut honey
Punch truffle with marzipan & walnut
Basil macaroon with Swedish strawberries & long pepper
2014, Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris
2012 Fides Eric Morgat Chenin blanc
2013 Foillard Morgon Côte du Py Beaujolais
2001, Guiseppe Cortese Rabaja, Barbaresco Nebbiolo
1947 Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Convento, Montilla-Moriles, Pedro Ximénez
2005 Chateau Rieussec Sauterne
This is the first truly Nordic restaurant I have dined at, the themes of butter rang through the evening with an equal and opposite oriental theme, a strange combination but it seemed to work.
Another unique experience, at a world’s top 50 restaurant, the interaction with the staff was special and it was great to be sitting at the pass, to see the precision and detail that goes into very dish. The food was delicious, balanced and delicate as one expects from a restaurant of this calibre, full of flavour intertwined with the terroir of the local environment.
A great start to this expedition, Emily and Matt’s Wedding, 2015, when I plan visit many of the world’s top 50.
I note we are expecting another film of the boys and girls at play on August 14, 2015, if its anything like the previous one then we are in for a treat.