Right now Scandinavia is going through an almost unprecedented heatwave. The sun has been shining for weeks without exception, the farmers are complaining over lost crops, people are showing slightly too much skin and it all feels more Mediterranean than Scandinavian. However this is Scandinavia in its prime. Colors are lush, winds caress your skin and life just gets very care free. What you should be doing now is to book a ticket and go visit Stockholm this very weekend, to just enjoy all that the city has to offer.
Stockholm is the perfect summer city break when the sun is shining, with its archipelago, its architectural beauty, the water which is present throughout the city center. Oh, and the shopping in Stockholm is great too. Most tourists end up on Drottninggatan, which to a native Stockholmer is completely and utterly incomprehensible as they never shop anything there. If you want to go for the prime shopping you should head over to Bibliotekstan, a fashion district developed for decades into what it is today. Here you find Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Jimmy Choo (opening soon), Burberry and Ralph Lauren alongside Swedish fashion brands such as Acne, J Lindeberg, Byredo, Efva Attling, Sandqvist, Whyred and Filippa K.
Bibliotekstan lies in the midst of Hamngatan, Norrlandsgatan, Lästmakargatan and Birger Jarlsgatan with Biblioteksgatan as its center street. You can find a map here. Make Biblioteksgatan your starting point and pick and choose to your own preference. As the weather is very warm you’ll probably need a drink rather fast and at lunch time the sun will be shining at Wiener caféet.
Wiener caféet is a Parisian / Austrian style café with international menu of pastries, salads, but also more Scandinavian dishes such as smörrebröd (not the Danish kind, this is more of a local Swedish adaption). However, this is just a great scenery for early lunch with caesar salad or crepes together with a glass of chilled french rosé wine from Provence.
If you’re into something more foodie for lunch or dinner you should definitely head over to classic restaurant Prinsen.
Prinsen has been around for longer than any of us. They first opened their doors in 1897 and has been open since. The kitchen here is a classic kitchen with Swedish and French culinary traditions. A brasserie where you will not find much trendy dishes or modernities on the menu. Prinsen has been home to artists, writers and directors for like, well, ever. Books have been written here, artists have worked in the kitchen and the place is just filled with history. At Prinsen you will not find it hard to get good food. The menu has a lot of Swedish dishes to choose from but you should eat the “Biff Rydberg” here. Biff Rydberg is a luxorious put in a stew made of beef tenderloin served with fried potatoes, fried onions, mustard creme and egg yoke. It’s simply delicious and you will not find a better one than just right here. Pair it with a Swedish Pils and aqvavit like O.P Andersson and you’re as much Swede as you can be. Or ask the waiter for a french wine, the service here is really great too.
A more recent food temple to open in Stockholm is Eataly. Eataly is really an Italian concept but with local adaptions around the world. One of the most successful ones ever is frankly Eataly in Stockholm. Eataly in Stockholm opened its doors just a few months ago, built into what used to be an old cinema, Röda Kvarn. Röda Kvarn was a architectonic pearl but unfortunately it did not stand the test of time as most single cinemas have died out. However, the decor was kept intact and has now formed this lovely food hall with its restaurants around what used to be a stage. Food drama if there ever was one. Oh, and speaking of the food it really is very genuinely Italian. The waiter even warned that the carbonara was done Italian style with egg yoke and not based on cream like it often is in Sweden. Highly recommended.
Another classic restaurant in these blocks is Sturehof – an institution as old as Prinsen, also inaugurated in 1897. Sturehof mainly focuses on fish and sea food dishes so that is really what you should be having here. The menu is vast and packed with oysters, lobsters, and all that you can expect from a french style brasserie in Sweden. Why not go for the cold lightly salted salmon with dill-creamed potatoes? That is about as Swedish as it gets even though the Salmon is from Norway.
As you are moving around a very old part of Stockholm most places here have heritage and history. Restaurant Riche, opened up in 1894 but was made legendary by Tore Wretman in the 1940’s. Both Riche and Sturehof is nowadays part of the same group of restaurants, Svenska Brasserier, and you may notice a resemblance in the decor as they have both been furnished by famous Swedish interior designer Jonas Bohlin. Toast Skagen was actually invented here by Tore Wretman whose recipe is still in use. Tore Wretman also re-introduced the baguette to the Swedish food scene after the great war, naming it Pain Riche, after his restaurant. This lead to much confusion when Swedes travelled to France and ordered Pain Riche which no one at all understood what that was.
Riche is also a favorite bar for many of Stockholm’s media elite. The big bar to the left is also nick-named the divorce-ditch – referring to the fact that you here find many middle aged directors and careerists who are no longer married but looking to hook up.
A more recent addition to Bibliotekstan’s restaurant and bar scene is 5-starred Nobis Hotel, below. An international luxury boutique hotel chain (recently opened up its doors in Copenhagen) owned by gourmet restaurateur Stefano Catenacci of Operakällaren (yet another restaurant made famous by Tore Wretman). Nobis has a very good cocktail bar indoors, the golden bar, which is a perfect place to end your day. Why not get yourself a room here. It’s hard to get more central than this and the hotel is very Scandinavian in its view of modern luxury – discreet, low key, very service oriented and classy.