Dinner at Kommendören:
Almost as atrocious as finding a fly in one’s soup is the prospect of spotting a used toothpick on the restaurant table one has just been seated at. And that, regrettably, is exactly what happens when my companion and I get settled in at the wooden bistro-style table at Kommendören. For a more squeamish restaurant-goer, the appetite – and indeed the restaurant visit – might have ended here. Realizing the error of their ways, our server is quick to remove the unwanted pick, while repeatedly apologizing for the unfortunate mishap with a twisted and contrite grimace.
Located on a corner in the quiet Östermalm neighbourhood, Kommendören is one of those new-ish neighbourhood joints where high-quality produce, good atmosphere and a love of food matters more than current gastronomic trends and over-complicated concepts. By no means does that mean that the restaurant experience in any way is subpar to that of a more pricey establishment. Except for the odd toothpick, perhaps, which we expect is a highly unusual occurance. Kommendören, it turns out, takes command and leads the way for what a great neighbourhood joint can offer.
At Kommendören, one is always in close proximity to the bar. Literally. Inspired by the American way of laying out a bar, the counter is placed centre stage, and not in some remote corner of the space. The Bartender’s Choice (144 kronor) of the day is a Pendennis, an invigorating concoction of gin, apricot brandy, lime juice and bitters.
The meal starts off family-style, with three appetizers to share. A foie gras ‘sandwich’ with ginger and plums (75 kronor) – with a much-debated main ingredient that often steals the show – is probably the least memorable, while the small short rib sliders with *Svecia* cheese and pickles (75 kronor) and the lobster tacos with avocado and tomatillo salsa (75 kronor) are both great choices. But be warned, the appetizers are rather small – more like slightly larger amuse-bouches.
The good folks behind Kommendören, the two accomplished restaurateurs Christian Olsson and Kristofer Sandström (known from Vassa Eggen, Boqueria, Tennstopet and Albert & Jack’s), are clearly inspired by the States in more aspects than the cocktail-to-guest ratio. The décor itself screams of Brooklyn with white subway tile, industrial pendant lamps, carver chairs and rough wooden tabletops. For a few hours, I am effectively transported to a venue that in many ways feels like one of acclaimed New York hospitality entrepreneur Keith McNally’s restaurants – and who is also referred to as “the restaurateur who invented downtown.”.Perhaps we are seeing the making of Stockholm’s very own McNallys in Olsson and Sandström?
The entrées – the fried chicken (185 kronor) and the house sausage (195 kronor) – are both stunning dishes. The chicken, beautifully arranged with Asian coleslaw and a soya mayonaise dip is not the least oily or dry, despite being coated in deep-fried batter. The homemade sausage is a slightly heartier dish, served on a bed of cabbage stew with bacon and apple – flavours that perfectly intertwine. The glass of Bourgogne by Vincent Girardin (155 kronor) is the icing on the cake.
Next, an order for a bombed Alaska (105 kronor) and a passion fruit soufflé (105 kronor) is put in. Aware of the fact that the soufflé, which is made completely a la minute to retain its volume, might take some time, a long and patient wait follows. But after what must have been a good 40 minutes, our server, this time with an even more embarrassed frown, informs that the desserts have mistakenly been given to another table with the exact same order. In a welcome bid to offset the error, desserts are on the house. When it finally arrives, the baked Alaska is a comforting mess of sponge cake, ice cream, banana, dulce de leche and pecans. It is Kommendören’s own interpretation of the classic , which traditionally doesn’t include the last three ingredients, and is perfectly topped with small fluffy peaks of browned meringue. However, the soufflé, is not quite worth the long wait, as both the passion fruit and vanilla in the ice cream don’t quite come alive in the dish.
Aside from a couple of newbie setbacks – which are most likely attended to as this is published – Kommendören is likely to dictate (and perhaps also, for some time, dominate) the breed of restaurants where flavour, love and atmosphere is in command.
08 661 67 00
Photos: Christian Fundin