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Stockholm

pickled herring potatoes sweden There probably are three constants in Swedish meals -- lingonberries, open-faced sandwiches and pickled herring. Expect to find the tart berries, or sauce made from them, next to or on top of numerous entrees and desserts. Herring is served marinated in onions, garlic, dill and mustard, and is typically accompanied by boiled potatoes and bread. As for the sandwiches on one thick slice of bread, expect the toppings to range from herring to shrimp -- a favorite -- to game like reindeer and boar.

Swedes love baked goods, especially during their coffee breaks. A colorful favorite is the princess cake: layers of sponge cake separated by jam, custard and whipped cream, topped with icing in brilliant colors.

For more than 30 years, the Vete Katten (literally, wheat cat) has drawn Stockholmers for their daily fike -- a ritualized coffee break. Vete Katten in central Stockholm is a bakery and cafe, offering multilayer, multiflavor cakes, sweet rolls (cinnamon, vanilla, almond, fruit, etc.), small sandwiches and salads.

At the Ostermalms Saluhall (Food Hall) downtown, set in a vast but handsome building that opened in 1888, vendors still offer the freshest seafood, meat (including reindeer and moose), produce, cheese and chocolate. Locals also head there for its many restaurants and delis.

There's no better dining room panorama than the Operakallaren, the restaurant in the grandiose Royal Swedish Opera House. The menu is haute cuisine: foie gras, lobster tail, grilled zander with dried algae. It all comes with a view of the busy harbor.

Prinsen lacks such views; now in its second century, the restaurant is on a side street off a commercial boulevard. But contemporary prints, rich wood furnishings and leather chairs lend a clubby air, and its menu offers traditional Swedish fare, such as bigg rydberg (cubes of filet, onions and potatoes) or five kinds of herring, served with potatoes and cheese.

The island of Sodermalm was once a working-class residential area, and a few remnants of those times still remain. Among them is Pelikan, an understated restaurant that specializes in old-time Swedish cuisine and a variety of beers. This is a prime spot to taste dishes like meatballs in cream sauce (a Swedish tradition), fried herring, and potato dumplings stuffed with wild mushrooms and served with -- what else? -- lingonberries.

A bountiful vegetarian buffet is laid out each day at Hermans, complete with some 15 different cold salads as well as rice, potatoes and other hot dishes. Come on a weekend and catch one of the theme buffets (such as Middle Eastern or Indian). Best of all are the views across the harbor to Gamla Stan and Djurgarden.

Seafood lovers won't want to miss a meal at Sturehof, where the ever-changing menu features dishes such as fried Baltic herring with browned butter, whole grilled char and bouillabaisse. When the weather is fine, you can sit out on the terrace. The place is always bustling, so make reservations in advance.
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