Lunch at Green Rabbit:
Rye and Reason
Chef Mathias Dahlgren has had a busy 2014. In April, he launched the *Matbordet* concept, where ten lucky diners are treated to an in-depth gastronomic journey involving five ingredients. At the annual food festival *Smaka på Stockholm* in June, Dahlgren took to the stage to bake a traditional Swedish strawberry cake that was later served to a hundred festivalgoers. Then in early September he fronted the Diners Club street food truck, opting to cook chuck steak in horseradish sauce, served with a side of grated carrots – as an *homage* to his grandmother’s cooking. All in all great efforts, which have rendered Dahlgren well-deserved praise during the year. But somehow we can’t dismiss the thought that these attempts are all part of a cleverly-crafted PR heist to make the previously somewhat modest and recondite Michelin-chef more of a chef of the people. Not that it really matters.
A Dahlgren venture that has flown slightly under the radar, and for some reason feels refreshingly unaffected and very genuine in nature, is that of Green Rabbit, a rye bread bakery that has opened up in the corner space of Norrmalm that once housed bakeshop *Smörkringlans*. Perhaps it has something to do with the beautiful loaves of bread displayed in the window, or the ancient kneading machine that is the first thing you encounter when walking in. Or maybe it just has to do with the no-frills, anti-design attitude that permeates the tiny bakery. Contrary to so many other Stockholm spots, it doesn’t try too hard. It just is, plain and simple. And that is also why Dahlgren’s motto of “making really great food available to more people”, assimilated at Green Rabbit by his right-hand man of some 13 years Martin Berg, works so well.
Because great food it is. A large range of loaves – mostly of rye, but also of other Swedish grains – are stacked on shelves in the windows and behind the counter. A selection of baked goods and *smørrebrød*-inspired open faced sandwiches are on display behind the glass of the counter. In a fridge, patrons are offered a large selection of meal beverages. The small dining area seats about ten and the bakers can be glimpsed in action behind a large window pane.
The smiling woman behind the counter gives my lunch companion and I a run-through of the sandwiches, which all cost 50 kronor, before moving on to other customers while we are given a moment to contemplate our choice. With a daily choice of eight sandwiches, we decide to go all-in and try them all.
What becomes apparent is that the slices of bread aren’t quite as dense and firm as their original Danish counterpart. Instead, the bread feels softer and more flavoursome. Baker Tina Fernlund, formerly of *Rute Stenugnsbageri* on the island of Gotland, has a baking philosophy that centres on long, slow rises and runny doughs where flavours are allowed to develop properly.
Sandwiches with classic toppings such as smoked salmon with horseradish, veal and chicken liver paté with pickled gherkins, and boiled eggs with chive mayonnaise fly of the shelves at a rapid pace, carried out in take-away carton boxes by business people on their lunch breaks. The soused herring with mature cheese and garden cress is a bold and well-tried flavour combo that works well, but in this instance it slightly overpowers the delicate flavours of the rye bread. A strong contender for our favourite sandwich is a beautifully spread *smørrebrød* featuring blue cheese from Sörmland, apples and walnuts, but the variant that really strike a chord with us is the sandwich that offers an odd and out-of-the-ordinary flavour sensation. Try rolling around the flavours of spiced pork roll, sauerkraut and apple in your mouth. Have an idea of what you might be in for? Wouldn’t think so. This gorgeously and subtly-dressed sandwich just has to be tasted in person. And don’t forget to pick up a cherry-filled tonka and barley galette while you’re at it.
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