Leijontornet, Stockholm, Gamla Stan **** (NOW CLOSED)

Q: What was it? A: A well-managed restaurant with an interesting philosophy that closed after losing its Michelin-star. I still miss it.

Leijontornet’s first serving: Snacks. Luxury snacks.
Bread and luxury snacks Leijontornet style: The round
thingie that looks like a lollipop is actually fried bass.

This is the way Leijontornet treat halibut and shrimps.
Cured and smoked halibut from Iceland with raw
shrimps in caramelized butter and horse radish ice.

Leijontornets oysters and mussels and more.
Nice one: Oysters from Smögen in oyster butter sauce served on tapioka with fried blue mussels.
Smoked Kalix bleak roe and braised leek. The brown stuff? That’s toasted malt from Sörmland.

Langoustine from Bohus Björkö with pig’s cheek.
Langoustine from Bohus Björkö with pig’s cheek.

The peak of all servings at the Leijontornet: Reindeer.
Wow factor 10: Top round steak of reindeer calf from Funäsdalen baked in crepinette with gin
spices served with pickled summer chantarelles, burnt celeriac, smoked ox marrow, cloudberries
and gravy with Scandinavian mountain birch tree.

Cheese time!

What you didn’t know that you’ve always missed: Carrot sorbet.
What you didn’t know that you’ve always missed: Carrot sorbet!

Dessert the way they do it at Leijontornet.
Now it’s dessert time: Ice cream flavoured with chicory from Stenshuvud, coffee/raspberry parfait,
caramelized hazelnut puré, sultan raisins marinated in punsch, punsch jelly and fruit bread crisp.

Remains of the actual 14th century tower was found in 1984. Now it’s in the dining room of the Lejontornet restaurant.
Remains of a 14th century defence tower was found in 1984.
It’s now the centerpiece of the Lejontornet restaurant.

Leijontornet is located in the Old Town of Stockholm, at Lilla Nygatan 5.
The address: Lilla Nygatan 5. It’s actually in the basement of the Victory Hotel.

A tower in the basement?
The story in brief: In the 13th century, the Old Town of Stockholm was founded on a rather small island. For centuries the island was referred to ”the city itself”, as surrounding areas were still mostly rural. This tiny town needed a defence wall and to that 14 defence towers were added. Remains of one of these – the Lion Tower (Leijontornet) – was discovered in 1984, during a routine excavation to clear a courtyard. This rather sensational find is now the centerpiece of the restaurant, located in the basement of the Victory Hotel.

A less traditional take on Nordic cuisine.
The inventive cuisine is the brainchild of chef Gustav Otterberg. He was the youngest to be selected in the book “Coco”, (published by Phaidon 2009), where the world’s most famous chefs selected the 100 best chefs in the world. Says René Redzepi, (of Danish food temple Noma): “…he will be one of the men to define the Swedish cuisine of the future”. In 2008 and 2009, the restaurant was awarded one Michelin star. After losing it in March 2010, the decision was made to close the restaurant on June the 23rd 2010 and return with an updated concept. But there’s still time to enjoy the almost 100% organic menu, permanenty excluding ingredients others might consider key… like tomatoes. Plus; they are churning their own butter and preserving as much of each season as possible.

Aha… nice one, but is it any good?
Yes, it is. Having the Menu North means that you would in early 2010 be exposed to everything pictured above, with the initial snacks, the oysters, the reindeer and the cheese as my personal favourites. The wine selection to this menu is stellar, but with one of Sweden’s most extensive wine cellars, (and the knowledge that must go with it), this was only expected. Flavours are sometimes familiar and sometimes not, (carrot sorbet was a first time experience), but to describe them as ”hyper-contemporary, sometimes extreme” as some have done, is an exaggeration. To tell you the truth, I’m missing that little element of surprise.

It will be sad to see you go.
The delivery from the kitchen has been super-solid, as is the level of service. If I could have a wish for the new restaurant that will take Leijontornets place in 2011, it would be that Gustav Otterberg started to experiment more. The flavours are so subtle that you may need more than one visit to explore them more thoroughly. It was certainly not hard to become an ambassador of Leijontornet as I seriously liked this restaurant and their staff, (Daniel Crespi could be the nicest of all Stockholm restaurant managers). My gut feeling is that they will deliver as solid as ever during the remaining months. Highly recommended, if you haven’t figured that out already.

NOTE: Leijontornet closed their doors on June the 23rd 2010 after delighting locals and visitors to the city for 23 years. Renovations will now take place and a new restaurant will open – hopefully in 2011. Djuret, a restaurant for meat lovers, (yes, it’s meat only!) still operates under the same management. Read/see more about Djuret here.

Lilla Nygatan 5, Gamla Stan
111 28 Stockholm

1 comment

  1. dit vill jag gå! Sara


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