I had high expectations for Stockholm’s cuisine. I had heard about the super-cool bars, amazingly fresh, organic and high-end food, cosy cafes, coffee shops where everyone had a MacBook and cocktails with incredible views.
However, being Stockholm, I was a little nervous about actually being able to afford any of these delights. This is the city where a glass of wine will set you back the equivalent of £15 and lunch can easily be upwards of £30 for a main course, even in an average restaurant.
In the end, we managed to eat really bloody well (and affordably too). So, here are my top eats in one of Europe’s most popular weekend-break destinations:
FOR ELEGANCE IN THE OLD TOWN: RESTAURANT JT
Like many cities, Stockholm’s old town is packed full of charm and stunning historic architecture. We spent a bright and chilly morning in the run up to Christmas in Gamla Stan stroking woolen fairaisle jumpers and trying on gloves as locals welcomed us into their shops saying ‘hey hey’. After a scenic walk around the island we were hungry and cold, keen to find a nice spot for lunch.
Happily, after some fervent checking of the menu prices outside, we ambled into Restaurant JT and were directed to a window seat overlooking the pretty square outside, chilly locals and tourists hurrying between shops.
Inside, the restaurant was very elegant: tall wine glasses, green cushions on window seats, large window panes bringing in lots of light. It was so nice I was convinced we had misread the menu and were going to have to be that awkward couple that shuffle out having taken one look at the prices. We ordered the gravlax with new potatoes in a mustard and dill sauce with equated to about £12. The food was delicious and we were left with money to spend – bonus!
FOR LOCAL FOOD AND CHEER: BLA DORREN
I had wondered past Bla Dorren a couple of times as we were staying nearby and had been unsure about going in – it doesn’t look like much from the outside. It wasn’t until we passed one evening to see the windows steaming up with the fill of people that we ventured in, interested to see what all the buzz was about.
It’s a traditional sort-of establishment, so expect Swedish food: potatoes, sausages, cheese, checkered tablecloths and tall melty candles. Gathered around the bar were groups and couples enjoying a local beer, the high wooden ceilings and traditional carvings making it feel charming and cosy.
We perched on bar stools in a nook by the window and watched the rain outside pour down the window whilst sipping a cold blonde beer. Make a reservation for dinner as this place is popular!
FOR GREAT VIEWS AND COOL VIBE: FOTOGRAFISKA BISTRO
Take some time to visit Fotografiska; Stockholm’s photography museum. It’s a funky space with tons of rooms and levels and a real variety of though-proving photography to delve into.
Situated on the new side of town, it’s a slightly odd walk down the main road past some cruise ships to reach the museum, but don’t be put off, it’s there and worth the walk.
The bistro on the top floor is one of Stockholm’s best vantage points with panoramic windows to soak up the view. The food is made from fresh, locally sourced produce and wine, beer and soft drinks are available too.
It’s a relaxed atmosphere and I’m told the weekend brunches are amazing. Book early to avoid disappointment.
FOR THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN TOWN: CAFE MUGGEN
We loved Café Muggen so much we went there every day, sometimes twice a day. It is everything a coffee shop should be: cosy, comfortable and atmospheric. They do the most delicious hot chocolate piled high with marshmallows in a bucket-like mug, and you can sit in the window with a flickering tea light on your table as you slurp away.
One day we headed back around lunchtime and got the carrot soup: again, giant portions and totally delicious with a swirl of double cream on top. After we’d eaten, we curled up on one of the sofas in the corner and read our books, keen for a bit of respite from a day’s exploring.
A hot chocolate here will set you back £5. Seems like a lot, but when you’ve escaped the frosty winter’s day and one of their steaming mugs of creamy hot chocolate touches your lips, you’ll be pretty chuffed with life.
FOR EXCITING DESIGN AND A FOOD EXPERIENCE: PONTUS!
So we rocked up at Pontus! at 7.30pm on a Saturday evening and the restaurant was completely empty. We had to walk past a couple of times to make sure we definitely had the right place. After some awkward glances through the window, we decided to go in and ask to push our reservation back to later, convinced we had made some timing faux pas by booking too early.
As we went in, we were greeted by a gentleman who, before I could say anything about changing the reservation, had taken my name and beckoned for us to follow him downstairs. I was slightly puzzled as we descended the stairs.
Downstairs was an incredible space: colourful mood lighting, Stockholm’s most beautiful people lazing back on designer chairs, books lining the walls from floor to the ceiling metres above and the chitter chatter of excited atmosphere from all parties. I had heard this place was cool so was glad I dressed up, it was awesome!
Again, I was slightly nervous about the prices: I didn’t want to fork out a month’s rent on this meal, however pretty it was. Turns out it was fairly reasonable, especially given the standard of food. We went for the tasting menu with wine flight, which equated to about £60 each. Not cheap, but an amazing meal with a real variety of ingredients beautifully presented in a very cool setting that made you feel a million dollars. This is the place to take your partner if you want to impress.