La Vigannerie Jus de Pommes, Normandie
Allspice Butter, Lingonberries, Smoked Reindeer Heart, Forest Mushrooms, Parsley, Rye Bread
Pine smoked Mussels, Halibut, Samphire, Sea Beans
Oyster, Kelp Butter, Potato, Nasturtium Leaf
Seared Langoustine, Dried Deer, Celeriac
House Bread, Cultured Butter
Juniper smoked Pike-Perch, Endive, Sunchoke
Hay flamed Mushrooms, Sweetbreads, Salsify
Birch fired Lamb, Cabbage, Ramson, Capers
Cheese from Lofsta, Smoky Buttermilk, Elderflower Syrup, Seed Crisps
Wood fired Oven baked Almond Cake, Rhubarb, Yeast
Historically a member of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” and perennial recipient of One Michelin Star it was along with a local previously encountered during lunch at Geranium that dinner was sat down to at Ekstedt on Tuesday evening, a five-course meal flanked by Canapés and Mignardises proving enjoyable if not particularly ‘exciting.’
Owned and operated by Niklas Ekstedt, a minor celebrity who has since moved on to cook at other projects, it was after stints with both Heston Blumenthal and the Adria brothers at El Bulli that the young Chef returned to Stockholm where his eponymous Restaurant eschews modernism in favor of a stoves, ovens and hearths powered by nothing but wood, a trendsetter rather than follower as the kitchen has been nearly electricity free since its 2012 opening.
Tucked behind a humble storefront and decidedly relaxed compared to other Stockholm stars, Chefs working in plain sight amidst a room decorated in little more than copper, steel and wood, it was by friendly and educated servers that guests were served throughout the evening, light music playing overhead as things got underway with a tableside preparation of Smoked Reindeer Heart cooked in a hot buttered skillet with Mushrooms and intended to be eaten like a “Nordic Taco.”
Using a variety of local Woods and cooking mechanisms including a chimney modified to be used as a smoker throughout the meal, a subtle mint flavor backing smoke and Herbs deeply penetrating fresh Mussels, it was as an unexpected surprise that two shucked Oysters were next presented, an orb of Potato offering contrast of both temperature and texture while Kelp Butter amped up the umami.
Performing a lot of tableside saucing, diners repeatedly benefited by aromatics unfolding as the dish was described, it was next that a sizable Langoustine was presented atop a bed of foraged Herbs beneath a dusting of dehydrated Deer with an earthy Broth poured from a vessel, one slice of Bread each buying time before the kitchen sent forth a skin-on filet of Perch that again found itself tinged in mostly bitter accoutrements.
Growing heavier as the meal progressed, though portion sizes and pacing remained appropriate for even those with modest appetites, it was over a fairly petite Sweetbread and Mushrooms cooked in Hay that oily broth with a beefy sapor was poured before savories culminated in Spring Lamb hidden beneath a blanket of clarified Cabbage, the garlicky Sauce at first requiring a little getting used to but eventually making sense given the protein’s minimal cooking and richness.
Tacking on a 105 SEK Cheese Course to share, an unnamed Cow’s Milk variety from Lofsta served shaved with Buttermilk in Elderflower Syrup alongside Seed Crisps, it was as burnt-Rhubarb Cream was added to buttery Almond Cake that the server explained electricity is indeed needed to power the Machine responsible for lightly-sweetened Yeast Ice Cream, a traditional Mandel Kakor to finish seemingly an odd choice as it was virtually identical to the cake, though perhaps a bit lighter and sweeter.