February 25, 2017

Stockholm Restaurants in the Michelin Guide 2017

Press image from Michelin.
(EDIT: this is the guide from 2017, to see the latest guide... click here!) It was a mix bag when the Michelin Nordic Guide 2017 was announced the other day... both happy and sad news for Stockholm. The sad news was expected as two of Stockholm 2 star restaurants have closed in the past few months: Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen and Frantzén. But it isn't completely gloomy! Mathias Dahlgren has just opened a new restaurant in the same locale that Matsalen was located called Rutabaga. With Rutabaga, Dahlgren has decided to focus on haute vegetarian cuisine. Interesting and we shall see if Rutabaga will get its own star in the future. Dahlgren still has his other one star restaurant: Matbaren (same entrance as Rutabaga). Frantzén is also not closed for good. They are just relocating to a new location later this year. More information soon! But, in accordance with Michelin rules, Frantzén and Dahlgren will have to earn their stars anew (stars aren't transferrable when a restaurant changes locations or concepts).
Building that houses star restaurants Imouto and Esperanto, as well
as Shibumi and Råkultur.
The happy news is that another Stockholm restaurant gained its first star in this year's guide: Imouto. Imouto is very exclusive... just a chef's table with nine seats where they serve sushi "omakase style", where you put yourself in the chef's hands (though they, of course, accommodate allergies and dietary restrictions when informed in advance). Head Chef Sayan Isaksson is a very successful chef, running the Michelin star restaurant Esperanto (named best restaurant in Sweden by the White Guide several times), the restaurants Shibumi and Råkultur as well as being the creative genius behind the Nobel Prize banquet for the past few years. It is important to note that all four of his restaurants are in the same building. Congratulations on the star! And here is 2017's list:

2 stars ("excellent cooking, worth a detour")
1 star ("a very good restaurant in its category")
Besides the star system, the Michelin Guide has another category called Bib Gourmand which is "exceptional good food and moderate prices". In other words, it won't empty your wallet. Here are Stockholm's Bib Gourmand restaurants:
Please keep in mind that the Michelin star restaurants usually need to be booked a few weeks in advance and often guaranteed with a credit card. If I had a dollar for every guest who has come to me on a Friday late afternoon and asked me for help in booking a table at a star restaurant for the same evening (only to be disappointed), I would be a rich man! If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, please contact me ahead of your visit for any assistance in booking a table. Of course, the Michelin guide isn't the end-all of restaurants guides and recommendations. There are plenty of other great restaurants in the city as well as other excellent guides

February 22, 2017

Restaurant Barobao

Back from vacation and I thought I would start with a restaurant recommendation. This time it is a restaurant in the Rival Hotel's neighbourhood called Barobao. It is a little hard to describe the restaurant with a few short words, but I would say perhaps trendy Tawainese/Japanese/Swedish fusion "fast-food" ecologically friendly eatery in a Nordic industrial setting comes close.
Bao (or Baozi) is a steamed, filled Chinese bun and from where the restaurant gets its name. But there is more than just different baos on the menu! In fact the evening menu (which you can view on their website linked above) is made up of smaller dishes and the idea is that you order at least three for a meal, more depending if you are still hungry. The lunch menu can also be found on their website.
And lunch is what I was there to try (in the search of good local places for hotel guests to lunch). Lunch at Barobao changes daily and you have 4 choices: bao with protein (meat, fish) or without (vegetarian) and bowl with protein or without. I chose the bowl with protein. A wonderful dish with chicken, sticky rice, poached egg and different Asian slaws. Very good! Check their Instagram page for pics of lunch specials and more.
Barobao is located on the street Hornsgatan, just a couple of blocks from the hotel. There has sprung up quite a few fun & relaxed eateries on that stretch of Hornsgatan besides Barobao, like Kalf & Hansen, Gamla Amsterdam (my visit) and Falafelbaren. For dessert you can visit Lakritsroten (for all things licorice) and 18 Smaker (ice cream parlor, though closed in the winter months). Great for our guests. Click here for other restaurant recommendations.
Barobao is not a large restaurant and they do not accept table reservations. You order your dishes at the counter and they call your number when it is ready (hence my "fast-food" description earlier). It is popular! I got there as they were opening at 11:30 for lunch and there was a little crowd of hungry guests waiting at the door in the snow.

February 2, 2017

On Vacation!

Time to recharge my batteries ahead of the busy spring and summer seasons! A couple of weeks on a tropical beach should do the trick. Looking for some last minute Stockholm tips? Scroll down and you will find my recommendations for winter activities, a list of this season's main art exhibitions as well as a calendar of events. I will be back in less than 3 weeks... just in time for the release of the 2017 Michelin Guide. See you then!