Sweet on Stockholm: Three Places to Dine
The geography of Stockholm's inner city is the envy of any urban planner, especially one with a quantitative bent. A third of the Swedish capital's total area is dedicated to parks (there are 38), another third is water (57 bridges connect the city's 14 islands), and the final third is urbanized. With all of that open air, green space, easy pedestrian access and tranquil water, it's easy to work up an appetite. Here are three dining options that take full advantage of Stockholm's natural surroundings.
In early summer, when the sun essentially never sets in Stockholm, locals and visitors sit outside, enjoying their coffee and soaking up the sunshine that gets them through winter. There's no better place for this simple pleasure than the Cookbook Cafe, off Birger Jarlsgatan in Vasastaden, a district of Stockholm.
Just as England has its 4 o'clock tea time, Sweden has fika, a coffee-and-cake break that happens every afternoon at 3. Swedes take their fika seriously: It is classified with breakfast, lunch and dinner as one of the four meals of the day. Guests make their way to the Cookbook Cafe for the atmosphere -- at an outside table overlooking a park or inside among the stools, cushioned chairs and bookshelves -- and for some of the best cakes and sweets in the city.
Monica Eisenman and Lisa Eisenman Frisk -- co-owners, co-chefs and sisters -- infuse their menu with flavors from the world they've experienced, from Ethiopia to the United States to Japan, Spain, France and northern Sweden. Their food melds flavors and textures that suggest a friendly working relationship of ethnicities and nationalities.
Consider the chevre cheesecake med lingonkraem (cheesecake with goat's milk cheese and lingonberries), which comes from New York to Sweden via Paris. The American influence is pronounced in the Southern pecan pie and the applesauce cookies punctuated with lingonberries. Recipes for these treats and more appear in Eisenman and Frisk's first cookbook, "Two Sisters' Sweets."
Info: Birger Jarlsgatan 76, 011-46-8-2063-08; sandwiches and salads run $8 to $10.
The reservationist at Kungsholmen is very thorough. Call to book a table and she will tell you not only what time your dinner will begin but also what time it will end. "We can seat you at 6:45," she told me, then added with an air of and-now-the-bad-news, "but if you'd like to continue dining after 8:45, we can reseat you at the bar."
Fortunately, sitting at Kungsholmen's bar is not such a bad thing. In fact, the bar defines the restaurant's concept. Guests mix and match their own menu from six "bars"-- sushi, salad, soup, bread, bistro and grill. Each bar has an individual open kitchen outlining the dining space along two opposite sides. Earpieces, along with hand gestures and sharp looks firing across the room, help the cooks synch the timing of the orders. So, one guest's morel soup with port wine from the soup bar arrives at the same time as the other diner's pain de campagne with duck and foie gras from the bread bar across the way. It's like culinary choreography, assisted in part by the (mostly very tall) servers and runners who whisk the food from the bars to the tables.
Classic Swedish cuisine is called husmanskost, or plain-folks food, and features meat, potatoes and fish. But plain-folks food is not what you will find at Kungsholmen. Meat appears as Asian barbecue and veal kebab, potatoes are frites , and fish is ceviche, sashimi or blini with bleak roe.
Info: Norr Maelarstrand Kajplats 464, 011-46-8-505-244-50; entrees cost $23 to $35.
There are plenty of places to stop and eat as you stroll through the Kungliga Djurgarden, the king's former deer park and the best-preserved island in Stockholm. But only at the cafe at Rosendals Traedgard would you not be surprised if Pippi Longstocking pulled up a chair beside you.
At this tiny cafe near the center of the island, homemade breads and pastries are arranged smorgasbord-style (the word translates to sandwich-board or buffet-style table, set with many small dishes). Guests circle the table choosing delicacies as they go along. For something more substantial, a small but premium selection of sandwiches and salads is available from the cashier, who is handed the dishes through the window that opens into the kitchen behind her.
It's Alice Waters's dream come true: garden-to-table, in one door of the kitchen (from the garden) and out the other (to the guest). The cafe is surrounded by vegetable, flower and fruit gardens; guests wander through the gardens, witnessing the planting and harvesting, and smelling and seeing the ingredients before they arrive at the cafe. Gardeners pass the food to the cooks, who process it minimally and pass it to the cashier, who passes it to the diner. The visitor then passes back underneath the boughs of trees and greenery to find a seat at picnic tables arranged in the orchard under the outstretched branches of apple trees.
Save a seat for Pippi.
Info: Rosendalsterrassen 12, 011-46-8-545-812-70; cakes and pies from $5.
-- Cathy Huyghe