FOOD ROAD TRIP: BISTRO BESTICK STOCKHOLM SWEDEN
We are still in Stockholm and chasing trendy restaurants in this town. There seems to be a little boîte around every corner and you never know which one really is THE off the grid place to go to get a great meal. This time we went on the recommendation of a local we just flat out asked "where do you go?" He said we should really try Bistro Bestick, supposedly the do variations of Swedish dishes for the modern palate, whatever that is. The nigh we tried to go they were booked up so made a reservation for the next evening to see what they got going on.
It's a cute place on a corner down a side street off an alley, a few blocks over from the main drag. You know, the kind place I'm always looking for. The menu is compact and came inside a paper folder binder type thing with their logo and other typographic letters all over it, kind of like something you get in a business proposal. Which, I guess in a way, is exactly what dinner out is like. We pick two apps and two mains and wait to experience the new Swedish cooking.
This a thin potato pancake with bleak roe, red onion and sour cream. That's right people I'm eating fish eggs! I figured I'm on vacation, let's stretch outside my food comfort zone with something I'd normally pass on. All the ingredients taste exactly as they look. The onions were raw which meant they were a little strong and their flavor sort of overpowered the other things when eaten together. The roe actually didn't have that fishy taste I was expecting, though it did have that tang of salt, but not so much it made you feel a need for a glass of water. The pancake was a little on the greasy side too. Eaten all together it was interesting if a little boring. Besides what these ingredients taste like individually there were no other flavors going on here, seasoning wise that is. It kind of reminded me of a latke with lox and a smear. It's simple traditional dish but I wasn't getting the elevation of the dish into something more than what it was. Good, just not exciting.
Venison carpaccio with baked egg yolk, shredded Swedish cheese and lingon berries. That's right people I'm eating reindeer meat--again! And raw! As with the plate above, what you see is what you get. The meat was thin and tender with just a touch of gameness to know this isn't beef you are having. That's where the berries come in to add some sweet tang to offset the raw meat. I thought the egg would add some saltiness but didn't and for me I don't know this dish needed it other than it makes it look pretty. The cheese hard a sharp edge to it like parmesan and taken all together it kind of works. Like our first app, this isn't going to knock your socks off with some wild flavor combo, but it is a good solid dish of some basic ingredients. And hey, you get to eat Rudolph.
Here we have grilled veal entrecôte (that's like the ribeye of veal) with Swedish cheese pie, cray fish tails, roasted vegetables and a slab of rosemary garlic butter. That's right we are eating veal and crayfish! Yeah, we got this because it seemed like the oddest collection of food items to bring together and it truly was. The veal was cooked perfectly. Sort of a medium rare, very tender and juicy, like smooth butter. Which means it didn't really need that hunk of butter on top. The meat was just fine by itself. It was also the only thing the SO liked on this plate. Me, I like the pieces individually but all together it was like why are they all here? The cheese pie was like a creamy quiche. The crayfish could have used a little more seasoning, though the butter did help them out some. The vegetables actually came in a balsamic reduction which was fine for them but didn't really mesh with the rest of the plate. It was almost like the chef was "hey, these are things I like to eat--here they are on a plate!" I don't know, I guess I was just confused by the whole combo. Good parts, not necessarily good all at once.
Here's a classic--hand rolled meatballs in cream sauce with potato puree, lingon berries and pickled cucumber. That's right--Swedish meatballs! What could be more traditional? Balls are usually a mixture of beef and pork and my first bite into these was--yikes, salty. As was my second. They come in this thick sour cream based sauce much like a stroganoff and it is rich and heavy. That's where the berries come in. Their tart sweetness helps level out the richness and saltiness and brings all the flavors together. The SO wasn't the biggest fan of these and said something about getting these at IKEA, but I did like this dish. It was the only one of the savory courses we had that made sense. The potato were thick and creamy and the cucumbers were pickled sweet and sour, another nice brightness to compliment the heavy cream sauce. I can't say they did anything different here like elevating or recreating this traditional dish, but it was still good nonetheless.
I wanted to end on a sweet note and got the toasted sponge cake with honey combs, raspberries and fresh cream. I had a different idea of honey comb, here it was thick, sticky globs of dark honey instead of actual comb. The cake was toasted and served warm with a nice crunch just on the outside and warm and soft inside. The size in the pic is about the size of the actual dessert so it was more of a light bite to end the meal and for the most part I enjoyed it. Not too sweet or light and still hefty enough to feel like I was eating a dessert. A good end to the meal.
As far as restaurant fare goes Bistro Bestick is serving up solid, decent, Swedish fare. That being said, they aren't actually doing anything new here to make you think, wow, what an exciting take on meatballs. Maybe me and the SO had our hopes up as this was presented to us by a local as something new, different and good. Good, yes, the other two, not so much. Still, I think it was worth it to dine here and eat some fresh local ingredients presented in traditional fare. Cutting edge it's not, but sometimes when you are traveling through a city it doesn't have to always be that.
One more thing to note is the service and I think this is more cultural than anything. We had mostly the same minimalist experience so it has been something to get used to. I don't mind relaxing into a 90ish minute meal, but an over 2 hour one is still a bit much when it's basically 2 1/2 courses. Who knows, maybe that's just what you get in a country where the sun doesn't set till 11pm.