Gastrologik — Redux
The second time was just as good as the first.
I so enjoyed my last visit to Gastrologik that when I knew I was visiting again with family I made a reservation. It was going to be more than twenty courses and last over three hours but I knew my 10 year old son was going to be up for it.
Gastrologik is the epitome of minamalist dining. Sparse wooden tables shorn of cloth and cutlery. Locally sourced produce that changes with the seasons (luckily we were there in spring where nature has far more to offer than in the winter). The wait staff are knowledgeable and friendly and all to happy to get into detail about the food they are serving.
The first course was a take on the breads that normally land on your table while the chef is figuring out what to serve you. It came served in a small Bento Box with mini-chapatis and some accompaniments. We had to make a wrap out of the roe and sour cream with a garnishing of pine leaves – sort of a Peking Duck minus the duck. The Pine leaves were surprisingly tasty.
The next plate of mini-bites looked like it was going to be a sweet dish when it landed on our plate but actually wasn’t. It was a perfectly rendered cube of pork fat that was completely hidden from sight by the cicely leaves it had been dipped in. I hadn’t heard of cicely before but it has a delicious aniseed flavour.
This was followed by a bite sized tartlet that was filled with a surprisingly light foam of milk and edamame. Studded painstakingly on top of the foam filling were carefully cut roundels of white asparagus in a rose vinaigrette.
The next plate of small bites was a sorrel leaf served like we do a paan leaf — just open. On top of this was a delicious mixture of chicken liver slivers with shavings of sweet meringue.
Next up was a fresh garden salad of elderflower and small raw slices of mackerel delicately arranged in an artistic line slightly off-centire on the plate. After they served us the salad was dressed with a thin but delicious sauce of algae broth.
The next small plate was perhaps the dish of the day. Delicious fresh shrimp served raw in a soup of green spruce nettles. Below the shrimp was some sorrel flavoured yoghurt and whey with a hint of caramelised onions and a garnishing of bright verbena flowers. Just a couple of small bites but what an absolutely delicious well balanced portion.
For the next course they brought out a bowl with glowing charcoal embers on which they had grilled a single asparagus. The dish was plated up very simply in front of our eyes with a single char-grilled and carefully seasoned asparagus placed at the centre of the page with a small dollop green paste made from the elder plant. It sounds and looks very simple but the lower half of the asparagus had been cut away and seasoned with delicious cheesy fillings.
The next plate had a mini-taco that was actually some sort of a crisp pancake that had hardened in a taco shape so that it could hold a variety of seafood fillings — from Norwegian langoustine to crab meat teased from the claw. There were also a variety of wild herbs and a thick cream of mayonaise consistency made from the head of the crab.
We were clearly moving into seafood territory. The next dish was a delicate piece of cold smoked Zander — just about one mouthful of fish that sat in what they refused to describe in any more detail than a Swedish sauce. Once again there were tiny herbs and edible flowers for garnish.
Next up — much to my son’s dismay — was a dish of porridge. This was no ordinary porridge. It was made from white asparagus that had been chopped fine till it was almost the consistency of couscous and then boiled to make it into a porridge. It was served in tiny portions with a healthy dollop of caviar for seasoning.
A few courses earlier they bought out this big piece of pork from the kitchen to show us what to expect. The next plate was the final presentation. The pork had been cooked in seaweed — in a big segment of kelp that covered the leg entirely and in which the pork was steamed en papillote.
The final plate was as pretty as the whole pork leg was rustic. The pork leg had been sliced fairly thin but it was pink inside fat nicely rendered and meat still moist and succulent. It was served with a pork jus that had been flavoured slightly with what they called a truffle algae.
It was on to the sweet stuff but before that they served a plate that helped with the transition. It was a cheese platter with a generous helping of goats cheese served on a thick pancake made of grey peas and dusted over with chamomile shavings.
The first dessert had variations of dandelions — both the actual flower as well as a sauce made from the plant. There were also some cubes of poached white asparagus for crunch and a few elements of honey jelly to add the right balance of sweet. The dish was topped of with a “snow” of honey granita to add some temperature variation to the dish.
The next two desserts were perhaps the most outstanding part of the meal. First one was called frozen dairy cream delicious cold creamy milk with a tart rhubarb compote. They once again used nettles to make a slightly sweet sauce.
This was followed by a delicious maple inspired dish. There was maple ice cream a dollop of maple cream and a maple syrup served with brown butter to cut through the sweetness. There were maple flowers to garnish the dish and a crisp tuille.
Perhaps the most magical of the dishes that evening was the next one — a small finger sized portion encrusted with wild chamomile leaves and served with a bun. We were encouraged to pop it whole into our mouths and sure enough, the moment we bit in the egg-shell thin crust burst allowing the chamomile infused vodka to splash in our mouths.
Even the petit fours were exotic. So far there wasn’t a single chocolate dessert — which is becoming par for course and the really exotic restaurants that forage their ingredients but one of the portions looked hopefully like chocolate. Alas it was not. What looked like chocolate was a fudge made from Jerusalem artichokes that was quite simply exquisite.
The other memorable petit four was called “The First Cream of the Cow” and was served on little crackers compltly covered with sorrel leaves.
This was my second time at Gastrologik and it was every bit as good as I remembered. I am not sure why more people are not talking about it or why it hasn’t featured on the many lists that seem to be floating around. As meals go this is right up there in my top five meals of all times and it is remarkable that this remains a well kept secret.
The other restaurant in Sweden that is on all the lists is Frentzen but in both my trips to Stockholm I haven’t been able to get a reservation. Each time Gastrologik has been my second choice but I have never been disappointed.