The upper level of this small, two-story restaurant, with its chequered floor and high bar tables is now a relaxed wine bar. B.A.R belongs to the natural wine school, Malmö’s current wine craze, and serves both classic Italian as well as wines in new, funky bottles with cocky labels. All are well matched by a knowledgeable and very friendly staff. Downstairs the ceiling height is low, carpet pads the bare tiles and the lights hang down, creating a warm glow over the tables along the walls. Here you sit a bit isolated, along with your party, which seems to help diners relax a bit more. The atmosphere is pleasant and easy-going. For some years now B.A.R has been looking for its identity in what nature offers nearby, and they seem to have found it now. The head chef’s carefully prepared food includes a lot of greens and berries, fermented, preserved and pickled, along with seasonal game. Among the starters a perfect, creamy poached egg with fried chanterelles distinguishes itself, along with lukewarm arugula, small pieces of bright pickled lemon, and a nice potato cream flavoured with sweet fermented garlic. With a mushroom broth poured over it to bind it all together, it becomes a pure umami dream. Even wild duck with intense rowanberries is appealing, while sloe berry ice cream with chervil dressing and buckwheat crisp would have been better suited to breakfast. The menu is short but whatever you choose, it’s sure to take your taste buds on an eventful journey through the countryside of Skåne.
When a place has been hot for as long as Bastard has, it’s not unlikely that the autopilot might kick on now and then. If that has happened here, no one is the wiser. Instead the ingredients, atmosphere, service, and guests have resounded in beautiful harmony for almost eight years, and very, very seldom sounds a false note. In the beginning the restaurant was known for odd cuts of meat, for the pig figurines scattered all over the place, and the plank with delicious charcuterie that’s a permanent fixture on the menu. But Bastard’s best-kept secret is that this meat restaurant, which eventually toned down the more visceral elements, often shines brightest when it comes to the vegetables. Vegetables now constitute two, three, no, four dishes on the menu and they are so good that they steal the show from a pig’s cheek. Take the beautiful, pickled orange coils of pumpkin, for example, with watercress and roasted pumpkin seeds on an herby bed, or the umami-packed cold Gruyère tart. Naturally, we drink wine with all this, which the skilful waiter matches with precision. The desserts are another of Bastard’s trump cards, where one usually finds ice cream, like one made of brown butter with rosemary, caramel, and toasted hazelnuts – so good it makes you melt. The environment and atmosphere is something special here, especially in summer in the Wes Anderson-like inner courtyard by the giant wood-burning oven where Malmö’s tastiest pizzas are baked.
We ascend the stairs to the inconspicuous villa on the outskirts of Pildammsparken full of expectations. In the gold-shimmering entrance stands an energised group of young men and women prepared to make a night of it. “Good evening, welcome”. (Everything is in English here.) We get no menu; we cannot know what is being served. “Are you nervous?” The show can begin. It is a five-course tasting menu (that’s no secret), but the star of the kitchen, Chef Titti Qvarnström will ensure that there are at least ten trips to the table, and all at a furious pace. The amuse-bouches are brilliant, like a divine oyster in its foam, which we recognise; raw, grated cauliflower; scallop accompanied by tangy dabs of yuzu and seaweed; and watercress with sea buckthorn berries. On the latter, a pitch black bread – black with blood? No. Octopus? No. It is activated carbon! Small, nice, dark pink pieces of game? It is the heart of the deer. A 2011 merlot from Blaxsta contributes with a note of berries and flowers. But what is the cute little mini-burger made out of? Taste it! Otherwise you will not know that it is bull testicle. A blue-blooded piece of... bird? It is wild duck, with tart apple cream, cubes of rutabaga and turnip, along with pieces of the thigh in flavourful autumnal alliance with black trumpet and parasol mushrooms. A small, elegant pan-seared potato and pistachio dumpling with nice pieces of bacon becomes the evening’s most memorable dessert. Then Bloom’s famous tube containing a chartreuse mixture of ginger and green tea arrives, overflowing with smoke from the dried ice, and waiting to be downed. Dazed, we head out into the park, full of hindsight.
Bord 13 was originally conceived as the casual dining side of B.A.R – but the division has never been spot on, and the food here has always been too good for the narrow concept of a wine bar. Now instead the mother restaurant has been bistro-fied (à la carte) and Bord 13 has gone fine dining (menu only) – a wise decision, because the innovative, flavourful, and natural food cooked here is fully capable of fighting it out at the top of Malmö’s restaurant range. The service is quick and friendly, without unnecessary flourishes and, above all, they are well versed in what is served on the plate and in the glass. We begin with Sylvain Bock’s Trou Blanc – funky, unfiltered and wonderfully versatile. It works with the small “eyes” of bone marrow fat, red beets and dark chocolate, as well as with the lamb tartare with small crunchy flakes of chicken skin, encompassing both the elderflower cream and the pickled rose petals. Like all wines here it is produced with minimal intervention from the winemaker. Pontus Elofsson (formerly of Noma and now a natural wine importer) and his predilection for natural processes is evident in the extensive selection. In fact, Bord 13 is one of the best places in Sweden to explore this wine category. The same philosophy also encompasses the kitchen, where neither red-listed fish nor medicated mammals shall cross the threshold. So it is with a clear conscience that we take a little more of the bright green pig fat with accompanying pork sprinkles served with the dark bread made with wheat from the island of Öland and Danish porter. The next dish could be called a seasonal hit with its nutty, raw-planed chestnuts and beurre blanc, baked kohlrabi, pine needles and saithe powder. And the matching juice made from pressed apples with lemon thyme is spot on. It is a low-intensity dish, filled with interesting textures, in which every mouthful contains a new dimension. The contrast could not be greater with the wild duck that follows. It is intense, bloody, and dramatic with sweetness from carrot, acidity from the plums and dried blueberries, crispiness from the fried kale and deeply flavoured with black garlic. The Valencia wine from the Bodegas Cueva fits like a glove. We calm our nerves with a fluffed curdled cream with salty caramel sauce, cacao nibs, pine oil and rosemary – a delicate encounter between the classic and New Nordic dessert traditions that provides both an interesting gastronomic experience and (not least) soothes the sweet tooth. Bord 13 presents modern cuisine at a masterful level – complex but at the same time as nakedly clean as the room it's served in.
Outside there’s a discreet sign and a golden doorbell. Igi Vidal, who also runs Bloom in the Park, has decorated the old house with wall panels and antique, carved furniture. It feels stately and private, the service is omnipresent and the atmosphere low-key. There’s no music, because here it’s all about the conversation, the drinks, and the food. The tables are few, there is a bar area where the house serves gin with homemade tonic and upstairs you can choose a wine that you fetch yourself and pay for when you go. The tasting menu is eaten (unless otherwise agreed) at a community table together with other guests. But first champagne, served on sofas in the salon with dainty hors d’oeuvres like oysters with tonic tapioca and neat, grassy flavours. The charismatic and talkative restaurateur makes sure the guests all introduce themselves to each other, getting the evening’s discussion underway. Here Chef Julia Hansson, who for years trained under Titti Qvarnström's wing, has started on her own journey and takes us through the land of Sagrantinia with a little beef tartare, pickled mustard seeds and quail egg, served under the lid of a jewellery box, and wild boar (which she might have hunted herself but which comes from a local hunter). The dishes are aesthetically delicate, like cottage cheese ice cream and fennel on a mirror of divine caramel sauce, which immediately affixes to our collective food memory. Each dish is also well matched by Vladan Jakesevic, who picks his own favourites from the wine cellar. On some evenings the restaurant is open until two in the morning, in which case the conversation continues into the wee hours in the salon beside the beautiful digestif cabinet.
It begins with a drink list called “Drinks and Roostertails”, a joke followed by the name of the first drink: “Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven”. They offer a lot of entertainment here, which is probably why Far i Hatten reigns in the People’s Park. The restaurant’s name has been around since the park’s inception in 1894. The old pavilion has been spruced up but retains a certain charming patina. In the summer the place attracts people to the large outdoor terrace. Far i Hatten has otherwise profiled itself as having an idiosyncratic kitchen and a beverage range that suits the hipster crowd from nearby Möllevångstorget. There’s a lot of green, natural and organic. The baked carrot with sea buckthorn, marigolds and cream with rye crisp is tangy, crunchy and caramelly with natural wine from La Grapperie in Loire that’s mushroomy and fragrant with berries. Sommelier Jonas Letelier pilots with a sure hand through the dishes and drinks. A Beaujolais from Fleurie is in total symbiosis with one of their autumnal plates – a pumpkin with pumpkin cream, Danish cream cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds. A “Kinder Surprise” of flavours. There are two menus – the vegetarian “green” and the “red” with a hint of meat. The green one beckons with a real beauty, a variation on kohlrabi with Skåne pears, chervil and chestnut crisp. Fresh goodness, enhanced by an improbably tasty orange wine from Friuli. The red menu offers, among other things, a delicious tartare of Skåne lamb with caviar, sea coral and trumpet chanterelles. Rich umami notes of forest, lake and sea. The tempo of the servings is high and the flavours are exciting.
Just as a journey begins the moment you’ve booked it, with high expectations, an experience at Lyran begins once you call and secure a table. On social media they lists the day’s ingredients – though you do not know exactly what will be paired with what until you sit at the table. Spoiler alert: it’s done really well. Crispy Danish rye bread with lingonberries and herbs is a small bite off the edge of the forest. After that, a variation on a recurring house favourite – wafer-thin carpaccio of portobello with an emulsion of roasted poppy seeds and Scottish cheese aged 36 months. You fold the panels into a mini taco and slip it down in a flash. Then things get exciting – carrots poached in carrot juice, glazed with fermented carrot juice and garnished with sesame seeds, cumin and dill flowers is an original smash hit, regardless of whether or not this is accompanied by Norwegian king crab. Though it’s a fun and bold way to address the slightly tricky crustacean, and the wine embraces it without restraint. In this case, the match is almost flawless, even in colour: a glass of orange wine (except it’s white) from the Pyrenees producer Matassa draws toward acidity and crunch. Most the wines are natural, subtle rather than garish – and good. This also applies to the long line of homemade, pressed and fermented beverages, flavoured with the joy of discovery. One exception is Frank Cornelissen’s Contadino from Etna’s volcanic soils, which is more interesting than good. But if you should drink it with something, it is probably with this: tartare from a Swedish Red Polled cow resting under a blanket of beets along with sour cream, fermented elderberries and crispy buckwheat marinated in the cow’s browned fat. The smokiness and fat balance each other somewhat, but not entirely. The dishes are, with few exceptions, safer on their feet than a gymnast and the many house-made broths make us philosophize about whether that might be what separates a good kitchen from a fantastic one. It becomes interesting and original again when we are offered a glass of sweet hawthorn liqueur – in fact considerably sweeter than the only dessert, which is on the refreshing side: raw and intense blueberry sorbet under a blanket of fluffy cream, and a liquorice powder so light that it is mostly a sensation. Jorgen Lloyd and Melissa Gardarsdottir together with their team create, in all simplicity, an experience in multiple dimensions.
Snapphanarna from Göinge were, according to the history books, warlike peasants who fought against the Swedish crown. At the Malmö restaurant of the same name, the battle is over how to refine what grows next door. The brothers behind Vollmer, Malmö’s best restaurant where seasonality is king, have established in Snapphane their own casual dining restaurant following the same motto, albeit in a more relaxed and pared down form. Snapphane is a tightly run establishment. The chefs work with quiet concentration in the glass-enclosed kitchen located in the middle of the space. The menu is short and the wine list, too. Ebbe Vollmer with his staff guide diners expertly through the evening. Snapphane breathes fine dining, with its sober decor, perfect lighting and its hyper-modern kitchen. And they succeed in the details, not least in the bread serving of small stuffed rolls that make us happy. The parsnip-filled bun sprinkled with liquorice powder in particular elicits shout for more. Later we receive a plate of buttery, sweet-salty salsify with trumpet mushrooms. It’s fiercely good. With each wine serving we get a lesson in oenology. A pinot noir from New Zealand matches the guinea fowl served with a crazy umami-dense purée of fermented vegetables. The dessert is an ode to autumn: dark pink strands of coloured, crunchy pear, a pear parfait rolled in blackberry powder, and a lovely cream made of white chocolate and buttermilk. Snapphane is a bargain among Malmö’s restaurants, especially for those who seek excellent service and good ingredients cooked with a gentle, steady hand.
You can now find a little piece of unadulterated French gastronomy in the heart of Malmö. Karim Khouani has left Tygelsjö to compete with the more urban Malmö restaurants in Sture’s classic (and newly renovated) restaurant premises. The combination of the hundred-year-old decor, the simple door partition that breathes cool grey luxury, and the open kitchen convey a sense of elegance. For SEK 950, you get seven dishes, six snacks and an abundance of petit fours. In this era of experimental fermentation, it is almost a relief to be served perfectly cooked lamb, or a piece of turbot that falls apart in beautiful flakes. The finesse lies in the precision of the cooking and the small, light-green shroud that envelops the lamb tenderloin in sage and tarragon. The lamb is served with the season’s local vegetables – either breaded and pan-fried, or puréed – so there is also balance in the textures. Generous amounts of black winter truffle further anchor the French flavour profile. A buttery tender king crab is wrapped in parchment-thin lardo and topped with a small dollop of Ossetra caviar and red wood sorrel. The crab is amazing, and has been handled with care, in order to achieve a perfect storm of sweetness, texture and mineral sea-saltiness. In terms of wine, there are mostly low-key French classics to suit the theme. A light beaujolais works best with the oven-baked turbot with grapefruit and bell peppers. An impossible combo on paper, but the young, tart wine works surprisingly well. A floral sauvignon blanc is not as convincing with the crab, and an albeit delightfully spicy côtes-du-rhône is too strong to be the only wine served with the amazing cheese trolley – which could be worth a visit in itself. The kitchen is, on the whole, balanced and mature without too much shouting or screaming – and gets extra points when the perfectionist is allowed to come into his own in the amuse-bouches and petit fours. The small canapés are the evening’s highlights, with small cake pieces of fresh clams and garlic mayo, herb-infused “chips”, lobster meat with caviar, and the fried ball of pork cheek. The artistic expression is as meticulously controlled here as in the desserts, where Khouani does not shrink from the traditional in combining a coffee and chocolate tart with exotic elements like mango, coconut and lime. There are few places in Sweden where it is possible to find such a passionate relationship with cheese – and the portions here are more than generous. However, the discriminating wine menu needs a bit more courage and vision to match the great French narrative on the plates.
Mats Vollmer’s strongest talent lies in his ability to elevate humble creatures and make them into stars. The beet broth is a shining example. This seemingly simple little slurp of garishly Bordeaux-red liquid has an intense, fruity sourness that makes other renditions of borscht seem insipidly amateur. This is how it should taste and yes, thank you, another tiny dollop of sour cream would be lovely. The generous amuse-bouches are also tempting with a delicious little fried “kale sandwich” where two crispy leaves enclose a kale cream, topped with a sea-flavoured powder made from bladderwrack. The last one is a world-class pork belly from Olinge farm, salted and smoked over applewood then hung for three weeks. The process is described while the bacon slices are finished off tableside and then topped with sage and vinegar powder. The atmosphere is elegantly balanced, just like the flavours in the food, and formal fine dining mingles elegantly with a genuine and personal approach that brings to mind an inn in Skåne. Karin Chudzinska has a firmer grip than ever on the wine presentations – and she always has a linen napkin ready, which she folds into different shapes in order to pedagogically illustrate the locations of different wine regions. It’s much more entertaining than long reports on the wine farmer’s family relationships. She freely mixes classics, unknown gems, and natural wines, and the matches are both spot on and fun. The best is perhaps the Lugana wine from Tenuta Roveglia with its saffron notes paired with the fusion dish made from cream-poached and caramelised cauliflower, topped by crunchy, dried papadum-like cauliflower flakes and “Skåne curry” with twelve spices derived from either nature (like ramsons) or Skåne’s culinary traditions (like allspice). The result is a wonderfully multifaceted dish where Christmas vibes and India’s aromas play magically together, and with chutney made from Victoria plums. In Sweden’s most multicultural city, it is a small exclamation mark in a string of dishes that are otherwise more firmly rooted in nostalgia for Skåne. The non-alcoholic pairings have improved significantly since last year; the elegant cherry-tasting green tea with plum juice is one of the highlights. The dish that has been dubbed “Against principles” is exactly that. Control freak Mats Vollmer has resisted jumping on the fermentation wave, despite an otherwise pretty Nordic approach to food. But now he has found a way to control the bacteria as he likes and his fermented rhubarb adds juxtaposition to a tasty little mussel in an intense clam broth. Another winning number is the mushroom soup, which could be printed out as a prescription against winter depression with its deep, intensely nourishing and comforting umami. The secret involves vacuum-cooking the mushrooms to prevent even a single drop of water from sullying the pure juice that forms from the mushrooms. And of course: there’s the irresistible bread. Presented in the same beautiful rod shape as usual, but under the surface, like the restaurant, it’s been under constant development. It still has its foundation in the 100-yearold sourdough starter that the brother duo obtained from relatives on Östarps Gästgivaregård when they opened the restaurant. The first sweet kick here is the vanilla cream-filled freshly baked signature Danish pastry. The rest of the desserts are elegantly and finely tuned, like yogurt in four consistencies with pear and lemon verbena. They are fresh and light, and we appreciate that more than sugar bombs. Vollmer in its 2017 vintage is better than ever.
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.