Swedish Taste is much more than an elegant restaurant. Here they offer cooking activities for groups of friends and businesses, conferences, events and even bags of groceries from the small café/shop next door. The location, opposite the Gothenburg opera house, characterises the crowd, especially when the “Tenor box” (as Gothenburg has dubbed the music scene) hosts one of their more popular performances. There is an opera menu among the tasting menus, of course, but all the dishes here are affordable enough, even to order à la carte. The kitchen works happily, as the name suggests, with a lot of Swedish ingredients, but the flavours and spices are often of more exotic sort. Though this does not apply to the venison tartare that has been given a slight scorching, served with flavour-boosting black garlic and green juniper and some pears for sweetness. Things get really yummy when a plate of fermented Jerusalem artichokes with walnuts and browned butter lands on the table and the talkative waiter proficiently grates Gotland truffle on top. They place great effort in finding good wine matches here, and with some of the dishes the same talkative waiter holds miniature wine tastings to make sure we’re satisfied. To match the tender lamb from Sjuhärad with salt-baked beets, fermented blackcurrants and fun, popped amaranth seeds, our choice falls on a muscular Portuguese wine from Quinta do Vallado instead of the proposed Swedish one. But of course Sweden is in our glasses when the dessert is apples with a little fried donut; Brännland ice cider is hard to resist.
Lithuania’s most honest local flavors. Farm to fork extraordinaire. Sweet Root is an eatery where the staff and the growers are united by lifestyle. Owner-manager Sigitas Žemaitis serves up sincere stories about the origins of his food, adding much emotional flavor to the dishes. Of course his menu pays tribute to his suppliers, listing the farms by name. Chard, smoked ham and buttermilk are the beloved kitchen’s cornerstones, they conjure the hearty flavors of the countryside with astringent dairy notes, and homey smoky-earthy fragrances. Also on the menu: Simple fried chicken breast fillet served with bone broth, chicken liver and crisped chicken skin, a dish that proves chicken doesn’t have to be boring. Smoked pike is usually dull, when dressed with fermented cucumbers and gooseberries, however, it gets an acidic punch, ideally this dish should be paired with a sip of Riesling. Sweet Root is located in Užupio, across the river Neris in central Vilnius. It’s a cozy location, especially in the winter when darkness falls early and the lights from the neighboring shops and cafés twinkle invitingly. Strangely, Užupio is more crowded during the warmer seasons, which means you have it all to yourself come November-December.
If there’s one place we dream of dining again, it is Søllerød Kro. Chef Brian Mark Hansen, Restaurant Manager Jan Restorff and the entire crew embrace you with warmth, offering delicious plates displaying their courageous gastronomic endeavours. The foundation of the cuisine is classic in terms of both wine and food, but Hansen and Restorff enchant and thrill us with a meal filled with enjoyment, exploration and surprise. Hansen’s kitchen manages to make caviar, oysters, langoustine, foie gras and pigeon seem bright, light and almost green. Restorff draws on the powers of his skilled nose and his deep insight to weave compelling stories and, with his empathetic understanding of each diner, he presents you with wines you will not soon forget. Take the halibut confit, served on a bed of buerre blanc with yuzu, pomelo, whitefish roe and a sprinkling of nutty fried Jerusalem artichoke and breadcrumbs, paired with the petroleum of a 2014 riesling, Ungeheuer GG, from Von Winning in Pfalz. The wine bores straight into the nutty Jerusalem artichoke and browned butter, while delivering an acidity unintimidated by the citrus fruit. The almost vegetarian dish with slices of celeriac, crisp chicken skin and artichoke balances on crisp, lightly fried water spinach and is topped with a foam of Høost cheese. This delicious serving is elevated to the heavenly by an exquisite burgundy, a 2014 Chassagne-Montrachet from Ramonet. The surprising star of the evening is Søllerød’s meat course, an interpretation of pigeon as a mosaic of perfectly roasted, petite morsels packed in crisp sweetbreads and served with mushroom-morel gelée and a whole stuffed morel. The pigeon has a fresh, light flavour, but is bursting with umami and acidic sweetness from a special “Russian” onion. The whole dish is bolstered by Diego Conterno’s Barolo Ginestra. The desserts at Søllerød Kro are not to be missed. The restaurant is renowned for its excellent pastry kitchen, and Hansen has an innovative style all his own. Symbols and shapes are at work here, so that by the end of the meal you find your senses elevated and attuned to the artistic culinary creations. We sample all five options: mango, yuzu and yoghurt as leaves on an exotic flower; monochrome parsnip in flakes with honey and chamomile; “The Snow Queen’s Tale” with coconut, passion fruit and vanilla; “Well-insulated Green Fantasy” with pistachio, thyme and hay milk; and the brown finale with chocolate, walnuts and arabica. The standout of the five is the pistachio dream, combining crunchy nuts with the creaminess of the biodynamic milk, whose sweetness is spiced up with thyme. The inventive desserts shine even brighter with the Beerenauslese Scheurebe in our glasses, and we conclude that Søllerød Kro offers one of Denmark’s premier dining experiences.
In the scenic confines of one of Denmark’s most iconic villages lies a gem of a low-ceilinged, thatched building that houses one of Denmark’s oldest and most striking inns, Sønderho Kro. Owner-operator Jakob Sullestad shines in his multifaceted role of hospitable host, head chef and restaurant manager – all with great respect for local traditions, the magnificent surrounding nature and the culinary contributions of the Wadden Sea and the island of Fanø. It’s an establishment seeping with history and atmosphere. The welcome snacks are homemade pork rind and baked root veg crisps of blue potato and tapioca, served with a dip of homemade mayo with fermented garlic. Both the menu and the inn’s open wine cellar reveal opportunities to enjoy a variety of selected rarities from leading winemakers. We begin with a crisp, unsulphured biodynamic Follador Prosecco from 2015 with fresh citrus notes in the aroma and palate. Each of the wines proves to be expertly paired with the evening menu’s five courses. The first course is steamed monkfish with creamy meat and a light bite, pickled white asparagus, crisp, thinly sliced fresh rhubarb that adds acidity, and sweet cicely for a touch of anise. Here we enjoy a Dr. Bassermann-Jordan 2015 from Pfalz made with weissburgunder – tight and with good acidity – and, somewhat uncharacteristically for this grape, notes of exotic fruit. New potatoes and pea shoots are topped with a generous portion of fresh lumpfish roe and garnished with herbs and egg yolk confit in rapeseed oil. The dish is an elegant and delicate harbinger of spring. Succulent pollock with a nice, meaty structure is served with steamed spring onions, smoked fresh cheese foam and ground elder, contributing a characteristic flavour reminiscent of parsley. Back and braised shank of lamb prepared to perfection, falling off the bone yet still juicy, is served with potato confit, green asparagus with ash of burnt potato and watercress, whose nutty and slightly piquant flavour adds freshness to the dish. Tender prime rib is aesthetically served with thinly sliced fresh and grilled fennel, fried asparagus, fresh butter-fried thyme and watercress, and a well-executed red wine glaze. The dessert is a fresh and acidic rhubarb compote with rhubarb sorbet, with sweetness from white chocolate mousse and depth from hard liquorice sprinkles – a sublime composition. All of the dishes are served as small works of art on beautiful dinnerware. The hospitality, atmosphere and environment all combine to make you feel like a welcome guest.
With over 100 Masters Level restaurants, the Nordic countries offer a wide variety of excellent culinary experiences. The Top 30 are all at the Global Masters level and they include some of the best restaurants in the world.