Mathias Dahlgren, Stockholm

September 4, 2008

Mathias Dahlgren is the chef of two restaurants in the great, old Grand Hotel in Stockholm. Matbaren is very informal, almost raucous, when we looked in on it. Across the hall, behind an unmarked door, is his more sedate restaurant, Matsalen, where Linda and I dined on August 29, 2008. There is a small à la carte menu or a “six-course” menu for SKr 1,300. (It turned out to have twelve courses.) We ordered glasses of champagne and a bottle of 2006 Felton Road (Central Otago, NZ) Pinot Noir, which was very good.

And so the meal started:

Truffle, corn, nuts

Truffle jus just poured onto warm, freshly-popped corn is terrific. There were roasted Macadamia nuts under the popcorn to catch any truffle juice which might seep through.

Smoked Herring, apple, rye

This mousse had a very Scandinavian flavor and was just right as a starter. 

Artichoke, butter, lemon

Well, this one was more Mediterranean. It was good also.

Taste and scent of the wood burning oven

This was a whole course of bread. In the photo you see two fresh little breads with a heavy scent from the smoked cheese within. The chef says they remind him of the scent of his mother baking bread in her wood-burning oven. There was also a slice of toasted yeast bread and one of rye bread with three different butters. All were delicious. Serving a course like this takes some real bravado from the chef and he succeeded.

Salad of fresh pickled vegetables
scallop, Atlantic mackerel, ginger, sesame

Everything was very fresh and good. The “pickling” was not too sour. The light Asian flavors enhanced the seafood.

Fusion of cauliflower & langoustine

Underneath the piece of langoustine was a mound of cream flavored with a reduction of shellfish shells. We had enjoyed a similar dish the evening before at Geranium in Copenhagen with scallops. The seafood-cauliflower combination works surprisingly well.

Handcut tartar of beef & oysters
watercress, tallow vinaigrette, black pepper

The combination of beef and oyster was excellent.

The rooster and the egg

This was presented in a two layer white dish. The top vaguely resembled a rooster’s head. One had to finish that before removing its plate and discovering the “egg” underneath. I was so involved in the intricacies and humor of the dish that I didn’t take notes on it and cannot remember what were the ingredients of the quite complex dish, but I remember we enjoyed it.
Lightly smoked breast of pigeon
truffle, celeriac, roasted nuts

The pigeon breast meat had been juniper smoked. The glaze and the celery root purée were nice, but the summer truffle slices had little flavor.

Sorbet of plums
on frozen flowers

The fresh plum flavor was slightly tart, which cleared the palate. The frozen flower disk was just for decoration.

Pumpkin, licorice, vanilla

The pumpkin was in the spiced purée dabs, the licorice in the jelly ribbons and the vanilla in the ice cream lozenges. I thought that the flavors worked well together.

Coffee candy
false blackberry
creme of gold

The blackberry was made up of dark chocolate nuggets. I can’t remember what was in the cream, but both were luscious.

The meal was very enjoyable, an imaginative cuisine well done and well served. One had a surprising feeling of joie de vivre.

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