The wine bar Grusgrus (Crane in Latin – which refers to the sibling bar Tranan) recently opened at Odenplan, and has already become the watering hole everyone’s talking about. The location is excellent, next door to the Restaurant Tranan, in the old premises that previously housed a estate agent, just above the entrance to Tranan Bar. The space has seen a complete revamp and Grusgrus can proudly present its own open kitchen and one of the city’s most vibrant wine lists and atmospheres. The bar, with a magnificent wine cabinet behind the counter, instantly brings your imagination to continental natural wine bars, the prices casually, yet invitingly, hanging around each bottleneck. We have been spoiled by the opening of a lot of these kinds of great places here in Stockholm lately, where the elements described above are part of the vibe. In previous In Vino Päritas columns, I’ve written about places like Folii, Combo Vinbaren and Tyge & Sessil. Grusgrus imports something else though, a cosmopolitan aura. Perhaps it’s the view through the magnificent big window of Odenplan’s new architecture that gives me a cosmopolitan feeling, a sense of something new. A large long table to the right, slightly raised from the rest of the restaurant, is called ‘Seppen’ (probably nickname for chambre séparée), and can be booked for larger parties, birthdays, after works, wine tastings and more.
Patricia Dominguez, previously at Vinköket in Gamla Stan, is now the latest addition to the Tranan crew. She sets the wine list, even though it’s inherited from Anna Mellfors’ former excellence. “The focus is on everything that is good and has an energy!”, she says. “I’m looking for exciting local grape varieties, new wine making methods and challenging combinations”.
Patricia is leaning over the bar when I meet her during a tasting of Spanish craft wines from the importer Words & Wines, at noon in early April. In recent months she has spent most of her waking time here, in this new project that has finally taken flight. “The open kitchen is inspired by the Mediterranean, on the menu you will find snacks, small and medium sized dishes and bigger dishes to share. Chef Fredrika Åström, head hunted from restaurant Portal, and her team will work closely together with us in the bar to develop new dishes in ten-day intervals. Every day some dishes are changed, and there will be freshly prepared new ones written on our blackboard”. Patricia points around the room and shows its different parts. It’s quite small, yet atmospheric in some way. She continues: “Ever since the opening it has exceeded our expectations, there has been such good and positive energy. We are really happy”.
My thoughts that Grusgrus is an odd bird, a little different to the others, leads me to ask Patricia what she thinks makes Grusgrus unique on the Stockholm wine bar scene? ”First of all, we have our own kitchen, with really ambitious cooks who love good food and are genuinely interested in wine. We want to create a place where everyone feels at home, no matter what level of knowledge they have. What I’ve heard from guests is that it does not feel like being in Sweden, but somewhere in the warmer latitudes”.
After her experiences working in Gamla Stan at Vinköket, I would like to know a little more how Grusgrus differs from her previous workplaces too. ”It’s a hard question. The previous workplaces have helped me get to where I am today, and have gained a little more experience with every place. With that said, you will never be fully experienced or even satisfied. The unique thing at Grusgrus is that I can work with the treasure in the wine cellar that my boss Anna Mellfors has developed for many years and that feels really exciting”.
The wine list, which is available online, will vary a lot depending on the season and what dishes they are currently working on, just like their menu. “We try to bring in small quantities of wine to accommodate more bottles and vary our list. On glass we will have about ten white and red, as well as a small number that we’ll open on inspiration and will be written on the black board. If you want to know more about good combinations between wine and our food or want to know more about the wines themselves, then we are here to help. Just ask”.
The evenings at Grusgrus are lively and full of music. You go if you want to discover something new in Stockholm’s nightlife, but still want the comfort of having a classic establishment to back it up. You will find new dishes and new wines most the time, but that’s not all. Patricia finishes: “Today, for example, we have a wine tasting for the wine business and more of these kind of events are coming. Wine tastings, dinners with producers, importers and winemakers, other kinds of events, you know, the sky is the limit”.
Photo: Pär Strömberg