Frantzén in the old town of Stockholm is a small restaurant that seats only about 20. It has two Michelin stars and ranks 31 on the World’s 50 best restaurants or 16 on Opiniated About Dining. There are a few tables and there is seating at the bar with full few of the tiny kitchen. There is a set menu of 12 courses for SEK 2500 with matching wines for SEK 1500 (2 white, 2 red, 1 sweet). The restaurant is closing at the current location on July 9, 2016 and will open on a new location in 2017.
Line-caught arctic char with osciètra caviar, olive oil and smoked fishbone vinaigrette, paired with a 2015 Gruner veltliner Federspiel from Wachau. Delicious fresh flavors and texture. 9/10
Chawanmushi, which is Japanese for steamed cup. The cup contains a custard of white asparagus and peas. Very nice. Paired adequately with the same wine. 8/10
Seared scallop in “dashi”, finger lime and spruce tips. The scallop is seasoned with the dehydrated roe, and the scallop “skirt” is used for the dashi. This worked very well with still the same gruner veltliner. The scallop was shown in its raw state, very fresh, before the dish was prepared. The scallop had excellent texture and flavor and worked very well with the lime. The dashi was very good. 9/10
Deep fried langoustine, dried rice, clarified butter mayonnaise. The langoustine had been deep fried for only 10 seconds.
Only the belly was crispy because of the dried rice. The clarified butter mayonnaise was flavored with lots of garlic and some parsley, perhaps a bit strong. Adequate pairing with an unusual wine: an oaked aligoté from Burgundy. Technically a very good dish. 8/10
Dry-aged dairy cow with vendance roe from kalix, Swedish unagi and green onion. “Swedish unagi” stands for smoked eel. The combination of the carpaccio with the roe and the deep-fried panko-battered quail egg was very nice, and a very well pairing with the aligoté. 9/10
Satio tempesta, a salad with 55 ingredients, all prepared separately in 13 different ways, and most ingredients from the own garden of the restaurant.
The salad is slightly different every day, depending on what is available from the garden. You get a list of today’s ingredients and preparations. This is the restaurant’s signature dish, that has been prepared every day since the restaurant’s start in 2008. Every bite is different and every bite is delicious. 10/10
The butter for the guinea fowl dish is churned at your table…
…and then melted in a tiny pot over a candle on your table.
In the meantime the last dish with the aligoté is served: monkfish with fermented yellow split peas, aged pork fat and roasted hazelnuts. A very good combination and perfectly cooked monkfish. 9/10
The sourdough that had been proofing on the table under a glass dome was taken away and returned later, with brown butter. Quite original to serve bread as a course instead of a side. 9/10
A piece of perfectly cooked guinea fowl with morels, whipped vin jaune (with the freshly churned butter that was melted on the table), and shaved walnuts, paired with a 1999 red Burgundy. Although this was a “standard” Burgundy, it had aged very well and paired nicely with the dish. 9/10
Grilled spring lamb with glazed asparagus, ramson, algae and aged cheese, paired with a 2006 Barolo Riserva that was matured just right with a nice balance between still being fruity, softened tannins, and the beginning of tertiary aromas typical for nebbiolo. The wine worked well and the lamb was perfectly cooked. I thought the tart sauce was perhaps a bit overpowering. 8/10
The baked rhum raisin ice cream, frozen foie gras, and condensed verjus was taken to the next level by the perfect pairing with a 2000 Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos. It takes guts to use foie gras in a dessert, but the grated frozen foie gras worked. 9/10
The second dessert was sour rhubarb sorbet with sun-dried strawberries, pistachio and pink pepper.
The dome was broken by the servers to show the interior. Remarkable how the same Tokaji was at least as good as with the previous dessert, but different. The dessert was nicely fresh with nice flavors and textures. 9/10
With coffee or tea came a bento box with “fika”, the Swedish word for sweets that you have with coffee.
And finally frozen espresso balls, quite salty but nice.
We really enjoyed our dinner at Frantzén. The cuisine is nordic with Japanese influences, made from the highest quality ingredients and perfect technique. In some ways the food reminded us of Librije (like the bread proofing on the table, the use of dairy cow as an ingredient, or the combination of monkfish and aged bacon). The dishes were all of a consistent very high level, and it is difficult to say which one we liked the most. 9/10 for the food.
Although I am usually wary of wine pairings that ‘recycle’ the same wine, in this case it actually worked. None of the wines clashed with the food. And with the dessert both pairings were outstanding. What was most special about the wine at Frantzén however, was that older vintages (1999, 2000, 2006) were served. That is very rare to find, and so much better than drinking wines, as so often happens, that could have benefited from allowing them to age for several more years. 9/10 for the wines.
Great food and great wine are not enough to make for a great evening, the serving staff plays a big role as well. At Frantzén it is great to see how much pride and joy the staff takes in working at the restaurant. Not only is the service flawless, they are very knowledgeable about the food and the wine and adapt their style to the guests to make everyone feel comfortable. It is definitely not uptight, as sometimes happens at restaurants with Michelin stars. What also helps with the service is that the chef, and in fact everyone in the kitchen, can watch exactly what happens at all of the tables. And so all the courses are perfectly timed. 9.5/10 for the service!
The only drawback is that food and wine is expensive in Sweden. So I’d say Frantzén is good value for Sweden, but quite a bit more expensive than, for example, a restaurant in the Netherlands of the same level.