Steeped In Tradition: Stockholm’s Classic Restaurants


Posted 10 months ago in Food & Drink

Panorama Test

If you want classic dishes at classic Stockholm restaurants with a proud history, look no further.

Some establishments just carry an extra degree of importance in a city’s culinary scene. It might be because of an exceptional chef, a new trend, or an extraordinary level of cooking that results in awards, Michelin stars and high praise. But a lot of the time it’s just down to perseverance and glorious tradition.

Some Stockholm restaurants have been amongst the top names for decades. They just won’t go away, and are great examples of traditional Swedish cuisine. Tranan and Sturehof have been stalwarts for about 100 years, while PA & Co, the little corner joint at the top of Riddargatan, came into existence in the roaring 80s. All stay true to their original idea, as anything else would probably cause a general outcry and riots in the streets.

PA & Co

The cosy little corner space opened in 1986 and quickly became a regular haunt for Stockholm’s in-crowd. Famous for inventing the dessert Gino and for the great number of regulars that all seem to know each other, PA & Co also serve up a couple of Swedish classics that never go out of style. Much like the restaurant itself in fact.
And as they say on the cover of the outstanding book PA&Co – Ännu en kokbok: “the devil made them do it”. We spoke to Niklas Ericson.

Tell us about your signature, classic dish, and for how long has it been on your menu?

There are two. Beef Rydberg is a classic Swedish dish, first served at Stockholm’s Hotel Rydberg that closed 100 years ago. Fried diced filet and fried diced potatoes with fried onions. Served with a homemade mustard and creamed horse radish. The other mainstay is *Råraka*, a Swedish hash brown served with bleak roe, sour cream, onion, dill and lemon. This dish was invented by a close friend of ours in the early 80s. Both of these classic dishes have been on our menu since day one in 1986.

Could you ever take this dish off the menu?

No way. Deleting any of these dishes is simply not an option either for us, or our guests.

 

How many regulars do you estimate that you have?

I would say that approximately 70 percent of our guests are regular customers.

 

With all this history and sense of tradition you have created, does that limit you in any way in terms of what you can do with the restaurant?

No, we cannot see any downside at all in having a steady stream of most valued regular guests!

PA & Co, Riddargatan 8
Sturehof

Photo: Sturehof

Opened in 1897 as a German style beer hall, it changed its name to Sturehof in 1905 and became the first fish restaurant in Stockholm. And so it has remained for about 100 of its 120 years of existence. We spoke to restaurant manager Thomas Mortensen.

Being among Stockholm’s most classic establishments means you have certain obligations. I suppose that most of all, you have to stay true to your original idea and give people what they expect. Do you view this as just a positive or is there any sort of downside to it?

I suppose it could possibly be thought of as something negative as well, I mean we really have to adhere to our position as this traditional restaurant. Personally I see it as the natural thing I want to do in gastronomy. It’s our roots and I really want to continue down that path, but the thing is that even if you’re a ‘classic’ restaurant, you don’t prepare and serve a dish in the same way in 2017 as you did in the 1960s. You have to update everything. We serve classic dishes but they are updated for the times we live in. Today there are other factors that you have to take into account too. Like how you fish, and how you source your produce and what you want to work with. We even know the fishermen today, we grow vegetables at Ulriksdal and source from people we have met and know. Things like that might alter the traditions we have for the better and that’s just very welcome.

Tell us about your most classic dish? And for how long has it been among the main staples of your menu?

That would be our shellfish plateau. Or the cod. The shellfish is obviously not the most technically-advanced thing they make in the kitchen, but it’s something we’re really well-known for. The other mainstay is poached, lightly-salted cod from the Barents Sea, fresh prawns, horseradish, poached egg and browned butter-hollandaise. The dish has always been there and this is how it’s being served today.

What would happen if you ever took this off the menu?

It won’t go away because we would lose everything we have stood for. Having said that, I think that many times people working at restaurants think taking something off the menu is more difficult than it actually is. It’s tough to kill your darlings, but sometimes you have to make the bold move. So many people come here regularly and are very comfortable in the knowledge that they know exactly what they are in for. These dishes have been on the menu for as long as we have owned the restaurant – and that’s 21 years – and we’ll never remove them from the menu. They are expected to be here 365 days a year. We might have one of Europe’s largest menus, but our regulars won’t even open it. They all know exactly what they want.

 

Sturehof, Stureplan 2

Café Restaurant Tranan

Photo: Tranan Facebook

A place to meet, something to drink and a bite to eat. Tranan hasn’t really changed at all since its inception in 1929. Some of the dishes have stayed the same ever since too. Oh, and both Tom Waits and Tupac Shakur have performed in the small cellar bar. We met up with head waiter Özze Galluzzi to learn more.

Being among Stockholm’s most classic establishments means you have certain obligations. I suppose that most of all you have to stay true to your original idea and give people what they expect. Do you view this as just a positive or is there any sort of downside to it?

I don’t see any downside at all. Everyone knows what they’ll get. Swedish classics are what are on offer and that’s what’s expected, but apart from the classics, we do have a two fish dishes and two meat dishes that we change around depending on seasonality. What’s really nice at Tranan is that you can drop in for something simple or you can go for a three-course menu with oysters, entrecote, champagne or a Barolo.

Tell us about your most classic dish, and for how long has it been among the main staples on your menu?

The fried Baltic herring with potato puree and browned butter. It’s been on the menu since 1929 when Tranan opened. Originally as a Herring sandwich for the old men who used to come when it was a beer hall, but it soon came in its current form and has become a classic. Nowadays we always ask if they want lingonberries with it. For some it’s an absolute no-no while for others it’s a must. There are incredibly strong feelings on that.

What would happen if you ever took this off the menu?

It’s impossible. We have a large menu but everyone expects it to be there. It just has to be. During my 12 years here we ran out once, during a heavy storm and it was a catastrophe. The ‘Wallenbergare’ – Swedish veal mousseline – wasn’t officially on the menu before, but we couldn’t take that off either.

And we actually have two dishes that people always expect to be here that are not on the menu. Our homemade Swedish meatballs and the Isterband – smoked pork sausage – with creamed potato.

How many regulars do you estimate that you have?

Oh, I don’t know. A lot. And people react when we change a member of staff. It’s because of the regulars, it’s so much fun working here.

 

Tranan, Karlbergsvägen 14

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