All posts tagged “herring

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Pelikan, Stockholm

Filip and ham hock

Pelikan is a legendary Stockholm establishment I’ve longed to visit for ages. It’s been around for as long as any living person can remember, and has the same air of grand old lady as Judi Dench. I’m currently reading a book about poor Stockholmers at the turn of the century where Pelikan was the place to go if you wanted to splash out a little. Pelikan serves traditional Swedish food in style of Den Gyldene Freden but at truly huge portions, and a more digestible price. It’s now one of my favourite places in Stockholm.

Shrimp sandwich

We visited on a busy Friday night, but the service was impeccable (contrary to stories I’ve heard from previous guests). Pelikan’s staff are little older than the average Stockholm waiters, and they take great pride in their work. This, as far as I understand, means they can be very grumpy sometimes, but also brilliant. My brother’s starter was a delicious trio of herring, with wonderful cumin cheese and crisp bread. My starter, gubbröra, is a Swedish classic of anchovies, red onion, fresh herbs in sours cream on dark, sweet rye bread,  which was also delicious. The most insane starter was Fredrik’s shrimp sandwich, which was about the size of two mains. It was great, but should really have been presented as a main (to share).


The mains were great, both in size and taste. Filip’s ham hock was the size of a cauliflower head, servedwith hutspot and three different kinds of mustard. A true classic. My meatballs were also huge, with lovely lingonberry and proper salted cucumber in cream sauce. As far as meatballs go, I prefer the ones served at Den Gyldene Freden, but these still tasted very Swedish. Fredrik’s salmon was luckily smaller than his starter, and slipped down easily. Pelikan is as much about the food as the ambience: the huge old beer hall transports you back to old times lost. Enjoying traditional herring in the light of candles and the pale Stockholm night is quite a treat. Just be prepared to bring a doggy bag home.

Pelikan, Blekingegatan 40, 116 62 Stockholm. 08-556 090 90. Reservation recommended.

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Den Gyldene Freden, Stockholm

Swedish meatballs

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.

Toast with bleak roe

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.

Baby reindeer entrecote

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.

Salmon with lobster sauce

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.

Cheese board

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.