February 19th 2018 saw the launch of the fifth edition of the Michelin Nordic Countries Guide, with counter restaurant Frantzén the star of the show, as it was awarded Three Michelin Stars.
But where did the Star journey begin for Björn Frantzén and how did he get to where he is today?
Björn received his first Star in 2009 while at Frantzén/Lindeberg, which was followed quickly by a second in 2010; Daniel Lindeberg then left in 2013 but Frantzén retained the Two Stars. After 8 years at this tiny restaurant in Gamla Stan, Frantzén decided it was time to relocate. He found a 19C townhouse in and up-and-coming part of the city, which allowed him to spread his restaurant over 3 floors. However, rather than expanding upon the number of guests he was serving, he kept it the same; instead focusing on the quality both of the cuisine and the overall dining experience.
This new restaurant really is a reflection of himself, and he has studied every detail in order to give his guests a truly unique experience – and this starts the minute you arrive. Ring the doorbell to enter, then enjoy snacks and an aperitif in the living room before being invited to a viewing and explanation of the day’s ingredients. After this, you’re guided through to the dining room, where you’ll find extremely comfortable armed stools set at a beautiful wooden L-shaped counter wrapped around a sleek, modern kitchen.
Don’t come thinking this will be your usual casual counter experience – it is, in fact, quite the opposite! This is a truly immersive dining experience and you really feel like you’re part of the kitchen. It’s not just the sights, smells and sounds – you can also feel the heat from the flames. The experience is further enhanced by the chefs presenting many of the dishes themselves, skilfully finishing them in front of you and enthusiastically explaining their construction.
The menu is a set tasting affair of around 10 courses and is packed full of the finest quality luxury ingredients – some are even bespoke to the restaurant. Cooking is modern and creative but also displays some classic techniques, including the use of an open fire, and dishes have real depth of flavour despite their apparent simplicity. Textures and tastes are cleverly combined and, alongside new creations, you’ll find others which give a nod to Björn’s favourite dishes from his restaurant in Gamla Stan. To accompany the cooking you’ll find a superb selection of wines which have been expertly chosen by the knowledgeable sommelier; French wines and in particular, burgundies, are a strength.
It’s clear to see that these larger premises are giving Björn a freedom that he didn’t have previously. He wisely still serves the same amount of guests – only now he has the space to really take his creativity to a new level and give diners his very best. The new surroundings are a perfect fit for his cooking and have elevated this to one of the finest counter dining restaurants in Europe.
Here are some of our favourite dishes:
Deep fried langoustine. A large, plump langoustine on a thin layer of crispy Koshihikari rice, accompanied by a subtle emulsion of clarified butter with ginger and chives. Delicate flavours were perfectly combined and there was a superb marriage between texture and taste.
Barbecued aged quail. A sizeable quail from Brittany cooked over open flames, lacquered with sauce à la presse and accompanied by a crisp endive salad. (It was served as half a bird on the bone, so you had use your fingers.) The skin was golden brown and the flesh was moist and tender, with strong smoky flavours and an intense sauce. The delicate bitterness of the endives provided a great contrast to the caramelised skin of the quail.
Swedish and Japanese beef. Slices of mature Swedish and Japanese Wagyu beef served with Bordelaise jus and Alba truffles. The savoury aged Swedish beef contrasted perfectly with the wonderfully marbled Japanese beef and the truffles were wonderfully aromatic. This was followed by a delicious grilled beef tea which was packed full of flavour and served with fermented mushrooms and cubes of truffled tofu. The meat was tender, the sauce was delicious, and the truffles sublime.