Mathias Dahlgren, Matbaren, Stockholm, Sweden ****

Q: What is it? A: The less pretentious, but still Michelin-starred restaurant bearing the name of the man, who during the last decade, has been Sweden’s most celebrated, decorated and awarded chef.

Exterior of the Mathias Dahlgren Matbaren, located in the posh but magnificent Boliderska Palace, built 1874, next to the main building of the Grand Hôtel.

Exterior of the Mathias Dahlgren Matbaren, located in the posh but magnificent Boliderska Palace, built 1874, next to the main building of the Grand Hôtel.

Not your ordinary matjessill, (soused herring). Dining at the Matbaren means a few new takes on classic Swedish food. In this case, simplicity does not, repeat NOT, mean simple food.

Not your ordinary matjessill, (soused herring). Dining at the Matbaren means a few new takes on classic Swedish food. In this case, simplicity does not, repeat NOT, mean simple food.

Hmm… let’s see if I remember this one correctly: Sausage from pork with sunchoke and truffles from Gotland? Yes, I’m almost sure that was it.

Hmm… let’s see if I remember this one correctly: Sausage from pork with sunchoke and truffles from Gotland? Yes, I’m almost sure that was it.

The Matbaren signature dessert – wild Bolivian chocolate. One word: Wild!

The Matbaren signature dessert – wild Bolivian chocolate. One word: Wild!

Saves the day for those of us who are unable to plan things well in advance: Some of the seats around the bar at Mathias Dahlgren’s Matbaren are always open to drop-in guests.

Saves the day for those of us unable to plan things well in advance: Some of the seats around the bar at Mathias Dahlgren’s Matbaren are always open to drop-in guests.

Because it’s good. No, erase that. It’s great.
Mathias Dahlgren’s influence on the level of cooking that you find in Stockholm restaurants can not be overestimated. The guy is nothing but a genius. Mathias, who turned 40 this year, won the Bocuse d’Or in 1997 and has to date been selected Swedish Chef of the Year four times. In 2007 he opened the restaurant Mathias Dahlgren in the Stockholm Grand Hôtel. From Mid-March 2009 he’s been entitled to brag about the highest concentration ever of Michelin stars in Sweden. The Matsalen was elevated to two stars, while the Matbaren was awarded one star. In my opinion the concept for Matbaren is one of the most well working ever in the premium segment, (which seems to be conservative by nature).

I remember my first visit here…
It has been a few now, but the first time was crazy. We discussed the butter for almost 10 minutes. It was so obvious that we were about to be exposed to a crazy level of cooking. It’s culinary art delivered with a great fingerspitzengefühl and a great care of the guest. I am seriously in love with this restaurant. But… maybe it is the number of visits, or maybe it is something else? I am not as dazzled anymore. I leave happy, satisfied and proud of having this place in my hometown but… I guess that I’ll just have to pay another visit to Matbaren.

This time I start with soused herring.
It looks ridiculously simple but it is nothing but fantastic. Matjessill as we call the soused herring in Sweden is something that you get in funky-looking cans, to be consumed in the summertime. These are different. They are from Haugesund and they are perfect. Then the sausage of pork arrives, with sunchoke and truffles from Gotland. Sausage is probably the thing of 2009 for Stockholm restaurants. Finally, I order what seems to be a rather fixed item on a menu that is otherwise always changing: A brownie made from wild Bolivian chocolate.

I want to award Matbaren with the fifth star.
I really do. And I am the first to admit that expectations of this restaurant is way higher than of most others. But… I want to be dazzled again. And I want the lovely Åsa to wait our table throughout the whole meal. Now she is mysteriously gone prior to dessert, (thankfully she returns a little later). If I would ever invent special rating for good vibes and relaxed fine dining on this site, the Matbaren would be the winner. British designer Ilse Crawford have worked wonders with the restaurant’s interior which, despite Danish lamps, (by Henningsen and Utzon), feels remarkably Swedish. It’s only four stars for now, but I will keep on recommending this 54-seat restaurant until you’ll get tired of hearing it. Yes, I’ll be back soon, and then I expect to be dazzled.

Mathias Dahlgren, Matbaren
Grand Hôtel, Stockholm
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6
Box 1624
103 27 Stockholm
Sweden

+46-8-679-3584

Book a table at the Mathias Dahlgren, Matbaren here (via the Grand Hôtel website).

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