From the White Guide Nordic 2018:
- Address: Beckholmsvägen 26, 115 21 Stockholm
- Phone: +46 8 551 531 05
- Web: oaxen.com
- Seats: 30
- Opening Hours: Tue-Sat from 6 PM- 20 PM. Closed Easter Midsummer, Christmas and New Years
- Directions: See Google Map underneath
The odd and wild from hill and water
Magnus Ek is one of the pioneers of New Nordic cuisine. Yes, long before the famous manifesto came out in 2004. He is best known for his tireless pursuit of different plants and flavour-agents from the forest and the soil. But both at his first location on the island of Oaxen and now at the former shipyard on Djurgården in Stockholm’s inner archipelago, he forages as much along the water’s edge as on hill and dale. Seaweed, sea grass and algae of various types have been included in Ek’s gastronomy for over a decade, so of course it is here we have had the chance to try glass shrimp in their shells, swim bladders and Icelandic ocean quahog. The quahog is seriously chewy with powerful sea flavours, a real ocean tough guy, and can also be over 500 years old. Ek serves the recalcitrant old guy carved in its shell with crispy Icelandic dulse and matches its high salinity with the slightly tart sweetness of sea buckthorn. Then a series of similarly complex and confidently executed servings shows how Ek masters the marine theme and explains how he secured the 2017 Merroir Award. Kalix bleak roe is served with chips on venison topside and a cream of fermented blue plums and pineappleweed. Lightly marinated brown trout is crowned with Finnish Baeri caviar and grilled parsley. With this we drink house-made schnapps of parsley, dill and caraway, which is macerated three days before it is distilled, as the well-briefed waiter informs us. It’s certainly a digression from the house’s famous non-alcoholic juice pairings. Sweet, creamy raw shrimp from Fjällbacka mingle with a high-gloss fat cap from dry-aged rib-eye and a small piece of sirloin steak that is cooked on hot stones at the table. Smoked scallop gets a nice kick from nettles and unripe currants in an oyster emulsion with high mineral notes. A Meursault 2010 from Pierre Boisson meets it with both minerality and smoke and an excess of oak, indicating a classic tilt. The new chef/sommelier Hans Weinefalk has tossed out everything in Agneta Green’s basement that does not come from Europe. Some time into the meal a mighty piece of roasted turbot reveals itself, displayed in a wooden box, before it is served with pickled black radishes from their farm on the island. Of course there is still a focus on vegetation and the island’s wild flora, complemented now by their own garden, where they grow their favourite roots, leaves, flowers and herbs. Even stems, stalks, tops and roots have a place in Ek’s kitchen, and the ambition is to become as sustainable as possible. Yet the only entirely vegetarian dish is the kohlrabi baked in smen, browned and served with pickled peas, and ramsons for a little bitterness. Above all it is the wild-picked that is unique to Oaxen. Last fall on the island they harvested a 20-kg lion’s mane mushroom from an oak tree, not unlike a longhaired cat perched in the tree. The so-called “smart mushroom”, which allegedly has beneficial effects on various brain functions and possibly counteracts dementia, has a strange animal flavour, reinforced by serving it a hollowed-out piece of oak that resembles marrow bone. Naturally the carnivore is appeased by their ten-course meal preceded by eight snacks. Ek has experimented a lot with charcuterie and fermentation, and a thin slice of Swedish Wagyu on creamed corn in a house-made soy sauce on potatoes is certainly one the year’s highlights. The desserts are not super sweet: a roasted carrot sorbet with browned butter and hay-infused cream is based entirely on the inherent sweetness of its ingredients. But sweet tooths will never be disappointed in the ending here. The house’s little box of exclusive chocolates from their own chocolaterie is still in a league of its own...
To read the whole review go to Buy The White Guide Nordic 2018.