Consistent is how I would describe our lunch at Mathias Dahlgren’s Matbaren last fall. There was nothing overly dazzling or concerning, but more than anything, everything felt very steady; an underlying confidence in both the front of house service and the food that was served to us.
Should I have been surprised by this? Most likely not, as the man steering the ship has quite the cooking chops to back it up – starting with winning the Bocuse d’Or in 1997 and having two restaurants in Stockholm with Michelin stars, Matbaren having one star and the adjoining Matsalen with two more.
The menu itself was diverse yet succinct. It was divided into sections for local, international and vegetable inspired dishes highlighted by the use of seasonal, high quality Scandinavian ingredients, primarily seafood.
As we settled into our seats, we were asked to look through the daily menu, choose one item to order and when done eating it, repeat the same process until we’ve had enough to eat. It did not matter what we ordered first or last, dessert or main entree, we had complete control. And it was with this in mind, that we ordered the list of dishes below.
Although found in the local section of the menu, the ponzu, ginger and radish gives it an Asian accent. It had great salt seasoning balanced by the slight acidic flavors from the ponzu. The cod was pristine, firm and surprisingly not mushy due to the diced chop.
Again found in the local section of the menu, this dish is what I would think of as truly Swedish fare. It was rich and hearty from the combination of the flaky coalfish, potatoes and smoked butter sauce, salty from the generous amount of bleak roe (a very common Swedish delicacy) and had just enough sourness from the dill and onion to counter the other flavours on the plate.
Based on the description on the menu, I wasn’t expecting to see what I received. The strips of fried tender squid was submerged in a very sour and slightly salty broth, similar to Filipino sinigang in flavour. I have a high tolerance for very sour flavours so I thoroughly enjoyed every slurp and bite of this dish.
Oh offal. Carla can never say no to it when she sees it on a menu. The dear heart was tender, smooth and slightly seared to produce a thin outer crust. And again, it was seasoned perfectly with just enough salt. While the cress, fennel and mustard provided just enough relief to subdue the natural richness of the hearts.
The only dish we ordered off the vegetable section of the menu. The sweet pumpkins and broccoli was accompanied by aromatic earthy black truffles and crunchy pecans.
If it looks like a plum, smells like a plum and tastes like a plum, then it must be a plum, right? Wrong. This dessert was actually a sorbet with all the utter flavour nuances and changes of sourness of the actual fruit. And not to leave any detail left out, a small indentation was also placed on the sorbet to replicate the section of the plum where the stem would be found.
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