November 14, 2014

Restaurant Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen

Press image from Mathias Dahlgren
Dining room at Matsalen.
Both chef Mathias Dahlgren and his restaurant MD Matsalen have been at the top of the lists of the best chefs and restaurants in Sweden for many years (even as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world) and has been awarded 2 Michelin stars since 2009. Mathias also won the gold medal at the 1997 Bocuse d'Or (culinary championships). While I have tried his one star restaurant Matbaren ("The Food Bar") a few times and his conceptual dining experience Matbordet ("The Dining Table"), I have not had the opportunity to try Matsalen ("The Dining Room")... until now!
 Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen is located in the downtown area, just across the water from the Royal Palace. Currently, Matsalen offers one set tasting menu: "The Natural Cuisine". Officially this is made up of 5 courses. I say "officially" because between the other smaller dishes, tastes and palate cleansers you really come up to around 9. All together they make up an incredible gastronomical experience.
Fire fried King Crab...
When we first arrived, we were ushered into a small bar/lounge to enjoy a glass of champagne and soon, once we were all gathered, a chef came out to welcome us and take us back into the kitchen. There we had a chance to enjoy 3 amuse-bouche while chatting with the chefs. Apparently this is a newly introduced component to the dining experience and it really was the perfect way to start the evening! When we were finished, the maître d' led us to our table in the beautiful dining room. The interior design is very Nordic with clean lines and muted earth tones.
The best freshly baked bread! Served with smoked butter and cod roe.
I really can't describe all of the delicious dishes here, but some of the highlights were the fire fried King Crab, served on a block of ice along with a creamy mixture of horseradish and bleak roe, and the seared scallops served with a potato créme, garlic, clams and lemon (a play on Moules Mariniere). The dessert was also a real winner... vanilla ice cream and Swedish Cloudberries (hjortron) served wrapped in a "false waffle" and drizzled with birch sap sabayonne.
MD's take on Moules Mariniere... with seared scallops.
We had the set beverage pairings... wines and beer paired with the different dishes, often with one beverage paired with two of the courses. The pairings were spot on and often interesting as well (orange wine, for example, which I had never heard of). The meal ended with Matsalen's version of the classic Swedish fika. I was pretty stuffed at this point and couldn't imagine eating more... but somehow it magically disappeared.
A palate cleanser: sorbet of pine shoots and mint, with meringue powder and bluberry.
While it is a set tasting menu that they offer, they can accommodate some dietary restrictions as long as they are given advanced warning. Booking a table in advance is a must! A table in Matsalen becomes bookable on their website one month in advance and they disappear quickly. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and wish to dine here... contact me for assistance (but in good time!).
Dessert! Not sure what a "false waffle" is, but it's delicious!


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