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Matbaren in Stockholm - 1 Michelin star

Rating: 90.
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Matbaren is the second, bistro-style restaurant of Bocuse d'Or gold medalist Mathias Dahlgren. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Stockholm's Grand Hôtel and shares an entrance with Dahlgren's two-star fine dining restaurant Matsalen. Matbaren has held a Michelin star since 2008.

On the menu are small plates, some more substantial than others, which you are supposed to order one at a time. The dishes are grouped under From our Country (local/Swedish ingredients), From other Countries (ingredients from other Scandinavian countries), From the Plant World (vegetarian dishes) and there's a pastry and cheese section. Prices for individual dishes range from SEK 125 to SEK 335. Matbaren is open for lunch an dinner Monday till Saturday (no lunch on Saturday). Last seating at lunch is 1.30pm and 10pm at dinner. I had lunch with my husband at Matbaren on Friday 28 February 2014.

My first course was Matjes herring, served with potato, cheese crème, chopped white onion, pickled red onion, strips of fresh apple, trout roe, crunchy rye crumbs and some beurre noisette. Delicious succulent herring with lovely salty and herbal flavours from the pickling marinade, which combined nicely with the sharp onions. A dish with bang on flavours and textures and the beurre noisette worked wonderfully.

Next was Matbaren's playful but refined take on corn fried chicken. Very tender and moist chicken (from Bjäre) with a perfectly crisp and grease-free cornflake coating. With the chicken came some sliced fresh cauliflower, a few radishes and a mildly spicy, creamed sauerkraut dip.

This was followed by a delightful dish of truffled potato puree and a soft egg (cooked for 1 hour at 63°C), hidden underneath a small pile of deliciously crunchy deep-fried potato straws and fresh spring onion, finished with lots of black truffle.

Best of all was a citrus, sea salt and olive oil dessert. At the bottom of the bowl were citrus fruit segments, like grapefruit, orange and blood orange, served in their own juices. The juices had been lightly seasoned with sea salt and a few drops of olive oil, which enhanced all the citrus flavours. Then there was an incredibly intense and perfectly smooth mandarin sorbet and two wafer-thin blood orange crisps. A brilliant dish that had a wonderful interplay of sweet, salty, fresh and bitter flavours.

If you arrive at 1.30pm, as we did, lunch can be quite a rushed affair, especially since you are expected to order the dishes one at a time and the kitchen closes at 2pm sharp. However, this didn't affect the quality of the food and the service. Matbaren delivers unpretentious but refined food with precise and clean flavours. Simple, good-quality ingredients like matjes herring are incorporated in sophisticated dishes and the citrus dessert would not be out of place on the menu at two-star sibling Matsalen. The informal, authentically Swedish dining room and relaxed service complement the food very well. In other words: a solid, convincing performance and next time I will be sure to start lunch at noon.

Posted 10-03-2014


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