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#1 StephanieL

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 09:58 PM

Had an absolutely wonderful traditional Swedish smörgåsbord at the Grand Hotel this evening. If you're in Stockholm and decide to go to a smörgåsbord, I highly recommend this one as it's probably the fanciest & in the nicest surroundings. It's held in the hotel's Verandah room overlooking the water.

There are six stations, which must be done in order:

1. Soup. They had pea and potato, but I didn't want to fill up on soup.
2. Herring. There was probably a dozen kinds, everything from pickled to smoked to prepared in a lime cream sauce. The herring is eaten with rye crisps, sour cream, onion, and roe, and washed down with aquavit plus a beer chaser. I've certainly never seen such variety of herring ever, not even in my wildest Russ & Daughters dreams.
3. Cold fish and salads. There was salmon prepared 4 ways--hot smoked, cold smoked, gravlax, and pickled with fennel--plus crayfish salad, hard boiled eggs with shrimp, vegetable salads, and potatoes. I would have been a happy camper if I just had had courses 2 & 3.
4. Cold meats. Didn't have a lot of this because I was starting to fill up, but they had reindeer, smoked ham, cured ham, veal rollups, pork loin, country pate, and smoked leg of lamb. Each meat was served with an accompanying sauce or salad (Cumberland sauce, Waldorf salad, etc.)
5. Hot dishes. I was really starting to slow down here, so all I had were some meatballs with lingonberries, catfish in I think a mustard sauce, and steamed vegetables. There was at least 5 other selections for that "course".
6. Dessert. Didn't touch the cheeses, but I did see Brie and Vaserbrotten (which I should have had with the herring). I did have the fresh fruit with whipped cream and passion fruit mousse. They also had rhubarb pie, chocolate cake, raspberry panna cotta, and apple cake.

All this, plus the aquavit, beer, cup of tea, and tip, came to 74 dollars. The basic cost is 365 SEK, or around 46 dollars at the current exchange rate. All things considered, a great bargain.

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck

 

"Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops."--Arsenic and Old Lace

 


#2 ranitidine

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 11:22 PM

I haven't been in Scandinavia in more than 30 years. You make me want to go back.
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#3 Rail Paul

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 11:31 PM

That sounds wonderful, Stephanie.
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#4 Wilfrid1

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 02:15 PM

How come Sweden is suddenly inexpensive? I assumed it was still unaffordable. Did something happen with the currency?
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#5 StephanieL

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 01:12 AM

Right now, the exchange rate is roughly $1=8 SEK. When I booked my hotel in April, it was $1=7 SEK. As long as the trend continues, it will be more reasonable than previously, though still not inexpensive.

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck

 

"Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops."--Arsenic and Old Lace

 


#6 Rail Paul

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 01:20 AM

I don't have a plot of the dollar vs the SEK handy, but the dollar has appreciated handsomely against the Euro and the Swiss franc recently. About 15% improvement since New Year's, IIRC
Dreams come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.

#7 fantasty

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 04:33 AM

The dollar was very strong against the SEK for a few years (10 or 11 to 1 for a decent stretch) but had weakened by the time of my last visit in December, 2003 to about 7.5, IIRC. I've always found food prices in Stockholm reasonable, at least by New York standards, but admittedly I don't eat out much when I'm there.

Stephanie, I'm glad you enjoyed the herring fest at the Grand Hotel.
"My hogs were so lean you had to put lard in the pan just to cook your bacon" - Papa Wilson, 1918 - 2007

#8 StephanieL

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 02:01 PM

The dollar was very strong against the SEK for a few years (10 or 11 to 1 for a decent stretch) but had weakened by the time of my last visit in December, 2003 to about 7.5, IIRC. I've always found food prices in Stockholm reasonable, at least by New York standards, but admittedly I don't eat out much when I'm there.

Stephanie, I'm glad you enjoyed the herring fest at the Grand Hotel.

And thank you so much for recommending it--I probably wouldn't have gotten there otherwise.

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck

 

"Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops."--Arsenic and Old Lace

 


#9 beachfan

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 05:27 PM

Ahhhh, herring!!!

Sounds yummy. How's the weather?

#10 StephanieL

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 09:21 PM

The weather was gorgeous--bright and sunny with temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s. I could have easily worn shorts. One good thing: because I was so far north, I got lots of sun and didn't get burned.

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck

 

"Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops."--Arsenic and Old Lace

 


#11 beachfan

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 11:21 PM

I bet the streets were packed. When the sun comes out, so does every Swede!

#12 Nancy S.

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 03:15 PM

We will be traveling to Stockholm in late August, and would love some advice. We are currently thinking about Frantzen/Lindeberg or Mathias Dahlgren -- unfortunately, we can only pick one, since we will be in Stockholm for a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and both restaurants are closed on Sunday and Monday. We also need venues for Sunday night and Monday night, and would be grateful for any and all suggestions. Many thanks in advance.

#13 StephanieL

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 04:10 PM

Would a traditional smorgasbord be too corny? If not, the one at the Grand Hotel is excellent, and completely worth the money considering it's an unlimited buffet.

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck

 

"Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops."--Arsenic and Old Lace

 


#14 fantasty

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 02:54 AM

Agree on a visit to the Grand Hotel.

Spisa Hos in Kungsholmen is a very good neighborhood place and easy to get to. Not fine dining, but a sweet little spot for an enjoyable meal.

As you may already know, you'll be there during kräftor (crayfish) season.
"My hogs were so lean you had to put lard in the pan just to cook your bacon" - Papa Wilson, 1918 - 2007

#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 10:40 PM

Before you read, here's a little travelogue to give you a sense of this pretty city and its cool inhabitants:



Stockholm may well be the prettiest city I've ever visited.

Not the most beautiful. But "beautiful" is problematic. Paris is intimidating. Venice is weird. Stockholm is, Stockholm is . . . nice.

One reason for this is that Stockholm is mainly on islands. Now you may ask what the big deal is, when that comes from someone who has lived most of his life in a city that's mainly on islands (which is very certainly NOT pretty). Well, the islands New York City is on tend to be big. You lose sight and feel of the water. Stockholm's islands are smaller -- and the waterfronts are always accessible. You almost never forget that water surrounds you.*

I stayed in Sodermalm, which is the Stockholm equivalent of Brooklyn. You may say it's stupid to take a seven-hour flight to stay in the local equivalent of my home borough -- but I like what I like.

I ate around, though.

Matbaren

Mathias Dahlgren, Stockholm's leading chef, runs two restaurants, both in the Grand Hotel right on the water in Blasieholmen.

Matsalen is a formal dining room. Matbaren is the food bar. I stupidly decided that the best way to deal with jet lag would be to go to the ballet the first night I was in Stockholm. The traditional place to grab a bite after a performance in the Royal Opera House is in the Opera House Cafe: somewhat surprisingly, the restaurants in the Royal Opera House have very good reputations. But as a Michelin-obsessed foodie, I elected to go a couple of blocks down the waterfront to this one-star food bar instead. I had made a reservation, although on this Monday night that proved to be completely unnecessary.

This place is great.

The first thing you're told is that "there are no rules": the various dishes are whatever they are, and you can order as many of them as you want in any order you want. In other words, the old (well, really new) unintelligible menu scam. But they're not really out to scam you: they make clear that you can order dish-by-dish as you go along, if you want. I liked everything so much that I kept going and going.

I started with a summer soup, laden with black summer truffles and various summer vegetables. I'm struggling to remember what the mildly creamy broth was made of: in memory, it was like yoghurt, but it wasn't nearly that tangy. In any event, this was a wonderful wonderful dish.

I then had some fried chanterelles with a slow-poached egg (food trends are universal) and more of those black summer truffles. This is sort of a can't-miss combination, but it didn't have to be as well-cooked as it was.

Then, a delicious rib-steak dish that probably takes off from the Swedish classic Biff Rydberg. There, the steak is cubed and served fried with potatoes, onions, a mustard cream sauce, and maybe an egg yolk. Here, they take a very high-quality rib steak and semi-grind it (like an American cube steak). There were some crisped onions on top, I think some blue cheese, I think maybe something mustardy on the side (but maybe not). The key was how good the beef itself was.

We were on a roll here, so I went on to have a pressed pig's head terrine. How do you think this was?

Finally, I was going to have their signature Baked Chocolate Ball (or some such) dessert. But the Famous Swedish Model sitting near me told me I had to have the Rhubarb Crumble. When somebody that skinny recommends a dessert, you take the recommendation seriously. It was good -- but I think maybe she needs to eat more desserts to have a more solid frame of comparison.

I liked dinner so much I came back for lunch the next day (it was on the way to where I was spending the afternoon). I tried their beef buns -- "inspired by David Chang's Momofuku, if you've ever heard of it", the waitress had told me -- and found them surprisingly spicy. This made me think that when Swedes go for Asian fusion, they use it as an excuse to invoke the kind of tingling burn that their native cuisine never ever provides. That speculation was bolstered by the crab dumplings, which again involved a surprisingly high pepper component (and a correspondingly high vinegar component). I'm not saying this stuff was better than Ssam Bar, but it was very enjoyable.

What would I say about this place? I'd compare it to one of the better lower-level Vongerichten restaurants in their best, review-period days. Top-notch ingredients. Fresh, clear flavors. Imaginative preparations, but not gimmicky or different for the sake of being different. Rather, a successful attempt to make interesting delicious food.

Also, a great, convivial scene at the bar. This is not an indigenous dining format -- bar-dining has traditionally been almost unheard-of in Europe. But as the waitress's "David Chang" reference indicates, and as subsequent posts will bear out, there's a general trend in Stockholm now of adopting New York dining formats. An interesting choice, given the general superiority of the food here to New York's -- yes, my usual post-vacation rant. But the smaller scale of the city, and the fact that they haven't yet abandoned hospitality, means that their versions of the New York formats are on the whole more pleasant than the originals.

A place like this has to have a creditable by-the-glass wine selection, and this one did. Governmental policy in all the Scandinavian countries is to deter alcoholism by inflating alcohol prices via heavy taxation, so I can't complain about the absurd prices charged.
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* I remember when I was very little boy in suburban Long Island telling my mother that I hoped someday to visit an island, to see what it was like. My mother, in response, made the patently absurd claim that I was on an island right then. I took that to be yet another instance of the adult bullshit we children were constantly being fed. Everybody knew that an island was a tiny land mass sticking out of the ocean, with a single palm tree in the middle and water visibly surrounding you on all sides. I didn't live anywhere like that.
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