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One day Karen, a friend of Swedish origin, said to me: "I wish I could go to the Operakallaren, the sumptuous restaurant where my great grandfather proposed to his future wife. But I will never be able to afford it". Stockholm - the Swedish capital looking onto the Baltic Sea and dubbed "Venice of the North" owing to its dozens of islands - is renowned for being a very expensive city.
After reading this article, Karen may be able to fulfil her wish: here are some suggestions about where to eat in Stockholm, with some ideas for experiences you can enjoy while spending up to 25, 50 or 100 euros.
From 0 to 25 Euros
Let's start with a great breakfast with a view! Served every morning in the Panorama restaurant, breakfast at the Hilton Slussen is a real experience. But remember: at the Eken Bar, also on the hotel premises, you can also drink the best Cosmopolitan in town.
The Fotografiska museum, founded in 2010 by brothers Jan and Per Broman, is the most important in Scandinavia. Its top floor houses a restaurant with the most striking view of all Stockholm looking out over the fiords and the old town centre. The furnishing style is that of Art Nouveau, the cuisine follows a green, local and seasonal philosophy. In the summer, it is possible to eat outside on the terrace of the Grogg & Grill. The Veranda Summer Drink made from Beafeater Gin, fresh Rhubarb, fresh Lemon, Cardamon&Tonic is priced at 12 Euros. As an alternative, drop in for an afternoon snack which can take the form of a delicious dessert of strawberries and ice-cream of the house (about 8 Euros).
Rutabaga - meaning Swedish turnip - was opened in February by starred chef Mathias Dahlgren, who had recently closed his Matsalen, awarded with two stars. This first-class lacto-ovo vegetarian and 100% eco-friendly restaurant now flanks his Matbaren located inside the Grand Hotel. Dahlgren has abandoned gourmet menus in favour of freedom of choice, catering for budgets of 12 to 30 Euros per dish.
From 25 to 50 Euros
The two-starred Oaxen Krog at Beckholmsbron will be beyond your means on this budget, but the Oaxen Slip has bistro prices and the dishes are for sharing, so find yourself some company. If you prefer to go solo, order one of the appealing starred snacks: try the Deep fried pork rind with pepper and tomato mayonnaise and add some grilled pea bread with spicy pork and smoked cream of courgettes (30 Euros approximately).
The Lydmar Hotel Terrace, open from May to September, is one of the most exclusive locations for a drink. Bar manager Peter Ersson will enchant you with his cocktails so confide in the recommendations of the "maison"; there is also room in your budget for an appetizer.
Stockholm's most up-to-date restaurant is the Lilla Ego in the Vasastan district. Owners Daniel Rams and Tom Sjöstedt offer creative Swedish cuisine in a small venue with exposed brick walls, which is chic without being pretentious. Order the cod with cabbage, cauliflower and grapefruit (31 Euros), paired with craft beer. Here the real luxury consists in finding a table: the restaurant only has a seating capacity of 45 and the venue is a glamorous one.
From 50 to 100 Euros
Volt is a small starred restaurant of recent inauguration. Its name derives from High Voltage, which means "having fun". With its simple dishes of daring combinations, it has been awarded for the sustainability of its ingredients and its natural, straight and honest philosophy. It is possible to order six or four courses featuring some interestingly combined ingredients, such as mackerel and quince or zander, Jerusalem artichoke and algae (4 courses, 60 Euros). The cheese selection from the Gullspira farm is delightful (13 Euros).
Every year in March, the White Guide, Sweden's most prestigious restaurant guide, elects the nation's best. The winner in the Rising Star category is the Adam/Albin, restaurant in Rådmansgatan, a fine dining laboratory where the menu is a surprise and changes every evening on a rotating basis. You can order certain variations and change 2 of the five courses. According to gourmets, this is the perfect Swedish restaurant experience. Around 80 Euros.
Another iconic venue is the Operakallaren, located in the same building as the Royal Swedish Opera. With its mirrors, 5 metre-high coffered ceiling, stuccos and gold decorations, it is considered to be the restaurant dining room of the highest artistic and cultural value in Sweden. In the ‘80s, an Italian restaurateur took over this legendary venue: Alessandro Catenacci, whose son Stefano still maintains its international cuisine of a very high standing. For 100 Euros you may order three lavish dishes. We ordered the monumental lamb fillet (with sweetbread, sour-dough crisp) artichokes, puree of peas and mint sauce. At the end of the meal, request a visit to the cellar: this alone is worth the trip.