Den Gyldene Freden is a legendary place. By some measures the oldest restaurant in the world, it’s a Swedish institution that has sheltered many famous artists and poets. Frequented by Sweden’s most famous ‘troubadour’ (singer-songwriter seems like a misnomer) Carl Michael Bellman in the 18th century, it was bought by painter Anders Zorn, famous for lavish depictions of voluptuous Dalecarlian ladies, in the early 1900s.
In the 20th century it was the hang-out for legendary singers Evert Taube and Cornelis Vreesvijk. Cornelis, a brilliant lyricist but notorious drunk, wrote a beautiful song about trying to stay sober by taking antabuse in this place. I used to listen to it as a child without understanding the lyrics, but one doesn’t need to speak Swedish to hear the exhausted helplessness of the song.
These days, Den Gyldene Freden (= the golden peace – it was named after the Swedish peace with Russia in 1721, the ‘golden’ bit being that Sweden was allowed to keep Finland) serve gourmet food. Being a Stockholm restaurant, it’s by no means cheap, but it’s a great place to sample traditional, delicious Swedish food in a beautiful setting packed with history. The service is excellent and personable.
We had some great starters, the best one being the best bleak roe toast I’ve had in my life. Fredrik had gorgeous chanterelle ‘dumplings’ called kroppkakor, and we also sampled different types of herring. All this was of course accompanied by aqvatit, the local spirits normally eaten with fish and traditional food.
For mains, I had an entrecote of reindeer veal (yes, one of these cute creatures) which was so gamey is almost tasted livery. It was very filling. Fredrik had a steamed fillet of salmon with lobster sauce, light and perfectly seasoned. We also tried reindeer sausage, smokey and heavy – perfect in the cold winter night. It came with pears and carrot pure, which was quite refreshing. My brother had the ultimate classic – meatballs (pictured at the top), with lingonberry, cream sauce and potatoes.
The French cheese selection with home-made crisp bread and jams was the only thing that wasn’t nordic. While I would have liked to stay in the Nordic region food-wise, these were a delicious end to a thoroughly enjoyable meal.