Unlike the empty and quiet streets that greeted us upon our arrival into Stockholm mere hours earlier, Rolfs Kök was energetic, bustling and overflowing with people. And given that this was a Sunday night, I took this as a good sign that we chose well for our maiden meal in Sweden.
Rated by the Michelin guide as one of Stockholm’s Bib Gourmand restaurants (good cuisine at a reasonable price), Rolfs Kök (meaning Rolf’s Kitchen and pronounced rolfs shook) serves a selection of simple, no-fuss traditional Swedish and internationally influenced dishes, with a keen focus on using high quality seasonal ingredients.
Trying to sample as much as we can from the major parts of the menu, during our dinner we ordered five plates – a snack, two starters and two mains.
Along with the snails, another example of one of the international influenced dishes, was what I had next, chili crab peanuts and coriander. A loose interpretation of the Singaporean classic, Rolf’s take on the chili crab included substituting the crab with crawfish. It was a playful dish and just like the original, the need to get down and dirty (by using my hands to crack and peal the crawfish) was needed. And as a reward for my work, the extracted crawfish meat was just right – not rubbery but still juicy and tender with a subtle sweet finish. The crawfish heads, on the other hand, were loaded with deep red crawfish fat, which was delightful. While the accompanying chili sauce, which was more mild then burning spicy, was definitely packed full of both tomato and peanut flavours.
The other appetizer we ordered was toast with chanterelles, vendace roe and Västerbottens cheese. A more traditional Swedish dish, the granular bright orange vandace roe along with the meaty and earthy chanterelles was a nice surf and turf combination.
I’ve really only had hake in the Basque Region of Spain, so when I saw it on the menu that night, I definitely had to give it a try to experience it in a Scandinavian context. Cooked to perfection, the hake was flakey, slightly still rare and was definitely the star of the plate. Surrounding the hake was a collection of fall vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip), of which the chanterelles stood out for being quite salty. Though taking me aback at first, after visiting more restaurants during this visit to Sweden, I’ve come to realize that the salt, sweet and sour flavours in Swedish cooking are much more pronounced compared to what I’ve been used to growing up, and is most probably the reason for my initial reaction to the chanterelles.
One of Rolf’s classic dishes, the red wine braised ox cheeks with truffle and potato purée was a very rich endeavour. The braising, presumably for an extended period of time, made the cheeks as tender as any we’ve had in the past. And the accompanying pool of sauce, draping the cheeks with an even darker shade of brown, was prominent with red wine flavour. While the side of potato purée was velvety smooth and laced with notes of truffle aroma and taste.
At this point of the evening, with jet lag catching up to us and our stomachs getting quite full from the large portions, we decided to tap out, skip dessert and head back to our apartment for some much needed shut eye. But even with our abbreviated end to the dinner, from the few dishes we had, it was quite evident why Rolf’s Kök can remain very busy and packed with diners even late into a Sunday night.
To view pictures of our meal in its entirety, click through the photo set below. If you are using a mobile device, please click here for compatibility.
Thanks for reading and happy eating,
Sonny and Carla