Flax Crisps, Rye Crisps, Spelt Sourdough, Hand Churned Butter
Smoked Fish Croquettes, House Tartar Sauce, Pickled Potatoes
Lamb Sausage, Sesame Brioche, Slaw
Matjes Herring from Haugesund, Trout Roe, Chive, Egg
Green Asparagus & Morels, White Soy, Black Lime, Egg Yolk
Pork from Nysttugan, Truffle, Spinach, Nutmeg
Double Espresso, Ice
Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble, Vanilla Ice Cream, Batakpepper
Baked Wild Chocolate from Bolivia, Sour Cream, Toffee Ice Cream, Nuts
Almond Cookies, Orange Caramel Cookies
Located inside Stockholm’s Grand Hôtel and the perennial recipient of One Michelin Star it was for lunch that two guests sat down at Matbaren, one of three eateries owned and operated by Chef Mathias Dahlgren whose Rutabaga stands directly across the way.
Still one of Sweden’s top Toques, a Bocuse d’Or win in 1997 and several Cookbooks making Dahlgren a household name while at the same time remaining a popular recommendation amongst gourmet travelers, it was after navigating the extravagant Hotel’s corridors that two guests were seated at a hightop along the far wall, various styles of tables and chairs giving the room character while the Staff is pleasant and accommodating.
Finding wooden boxes containing menus, bags, silverware and glasses at each seat, a unique arrangement that at times makes one feel as though they are eating off a “lunch tray,” it was in the brown paper that Crisps of Flax and Rye were found, these as well as warm Spelt Sourdough each good on their own but even more delicious when slathered with salted Butter reportedly churned less than thirty minutes away.
Unpretentious despite its accolades, the fact that Matbaren was apparently at one time a more casual way to experience Mathias Dahlgren’s cuisine than an eponymous Michelin 2-stared spot in the same Hôtel likely part of that reason, it was after lengthy deliberation that the decision was made to order one 495 SEK Lunch Prix Fixe plus four additional items a la carte, a trio of Appetizers arriving after perhaps fifteen minutes all simple and delicious with the fresh Herring amidst two types of Eggs a pleasant surprise to someone who typically considers it “too fishy.”
Happily finding the Croquettes stuffed with Rillettes rather than filleted Fish, the smokiness balanced by tangy Tartar Sauce, it was with the Lamb Sausage gone in one bite each that second courses were fired, the lightly seared local Pork supple and rich compared to American where most kitchens overcook the Meat while a dish of Swedish Morels and tender Asparagus dressed in umami and acid suggested Dahlgren’s recently-opened Vegetable-centric Restaurant likely warrants attention.
In need of an afternoon pick-me-up, several miles and meals already logged plus more to follow, it was alongside a Double Espresso and Ice that two Desserts were presented, the Prix Fixe’s Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble beautifully composed with sweet, sour, crunchy, creamy, hot and cold all accounted for while Matbaren’s famous Baked Wild Chocolate from Bolivia charted a similar course by way of not-quite-molten Cake playing off Sour Cream, Toffee and candied Nuts.
Rounding out a very pleasant Meal with Mignardises, both the dainty Orange Caramel and Madeline-like Almond Cookies again speaking well of Matbaren’s Bread and Pastry Team, it was with a fairly modest bill paid that another look at the hotel was taken, a sign welcoming guests for some sort of White Guide Conference explaining why both of Dahlgren’s Restaurants were fully booked for the evening and perhaps portending good news for the Chef in next year’s edition of Scandinavia’s premier dining publication.