Is Restaurant Ekstedt in Stockholm one of the 10 hottest restaurants in the world?
Referring to Zagat it is. And this mention will surely not make life any easier for people who want a reservation at a restaurant where it’s all about reinventing Stone Age cooking.
Niklas Ekstedt is a well know Swedish chef who has published several cookbooks and is often seen on Swedish television. His latest show, “Niklas Food”, was a big success and will be followed up by a new season later this year where we follow Niklas around the world as he practiced in some of the world’s best restaurants (including Osteria Francescana, Arzak and Husk). Niklas also runs a second restaurant in Stockholm called “Restaurant Niklas”.
At Ekstedt you will find a cuisine requiring no electricity at all. A giant fire pit dominates the kitchen with all kinds of ingredients (perhaps in the process of being chimney-smoked) hanging from hooks above the flames.
“There is a challenge in obtaining a balance between the right amount of wood, the ideal temperature and the exact distance above the searing flames. I want to challenge myself by exercising our ancestors art of cooking and also dare to take it a step further, namely to the kitchen of a restaurant full of anticipating guests.” Niklas says.
And it goes without saying that as soon as you enter this restaurant your excitement will be on top. All dishes are prepared in their wood burning hearth, the fire pit or the wood-fired stove. And all ingredients will receive a final touch over the fire.
“The inspiration for the atmosphere in our restaurant comes from my own childhood, growing up in Jämtland and Skåne.” Niklas says and continues, “The ambiance is created by the sandstone from Jämtland in the north and by the characteristic half-timbered architectural traits of Skåne in the South. With the best that Sweden has to offer, and with inspiration from around the world, I aspire to create extraordinary dishes.”
And most of the times extraordinary dishes will be served by chef Ekstedt, who actually had none other than Rene Redzepi sleeping at his sofa when they worked together back in the days.
This was my second visit to Restaurant Ekstedt and as always I prefer to sit at the Chefs Table. A great spot if you’re interested in chitchatting with the chefs and watch dishes being prepared and plated.
To start we enjoyed some finger licking good “mini-pizzas” with mozzarella and truffles, and a fun take on the classic calzone. Delicious stuff.
Next was hay-baked arctic char with a browned butter cream, pickled vegetables and chanterelle mushrooms. A dish with rich and subtle flavours and divine textures, with just the right amount of acidity on the plate to balance the salty, fatty and smoky fish.
Lobster was next and this was the only dish I also was served on my first visit. Big firm chunks of Chimney smoked lobster with cream made of raw lobster, smoked tomatoes and almonds. It’s a lovely thing to eat, with the tomatoes taking the sweetness of the dish yet another level, and the crispy almonds adding beautiful texture to the velvety raw lobster cream.
Using pork and apples you will come up with endless possibilities and the following dish of cured pork belly and smoked pork sausage was yet another great example. But the fact that this dish gone a little unnoticed this evening gives you a hint of the level this restaurant is on.
My favourite dish was the reindeer veal baked in glowing wood, accompanied by caramelized cabbage, truffle and smoked marrow. This was actually insanely good. The reindeer veal was cooked to perfection having a mild game flavour and beautiful tenderness, with the combination of sweet caramelized cabbage, truffle and smoky marrow being nothing but divine. The wine pairing made by sommelier Maximilian Mellfors, a bottle of Els Jelipins 07, was a very exciting one. I would love to drink this wine again.
First dessert was a cake filled with salted caramel served with lemon ice cream, smoked almonds and pickled lemon. This needed sweetness as it was packed full of acidity, not even the salted caramel could help out, but all good with the sweet wine served to balance the acidity out.
One of the most beautiful plates served last year was this one. Sourdough waffles, cloudberries and vanilla. Of course, it goes without saying, it was delicious.
In Stockholm Restaurant Ekstedt is your must visit.
Address: Humlegårdsgatan 17, 114 46 Stockholm
Phone: +46 (0)8 611 12 10