Dinner at Woodstockholm Matbare

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Masterly at Mosebacke

 

With age, I’ve learned to accept that there’s no accounting for taste. What one person loves, another person detests. People’s tastes just differ – plain and simple. And part of the maturing process is to learn to accept these differences, and not try to convince others of the contrary. Or to judge. Naturally, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Right?

That said, I have moments when I revert back to my old, immature ways. One of those instances was during a recent meal at Woodstockholm Matbaren, a tiny neighbourhood joint on Mosebacke Torg. It was one of those evenings where I was just getting started on a near-to-magical dining experience where the service was lovely, the wine was immaculate and the food was superb.

In come a party of four, on what must have been a tentative double date. One of the two women, who obviously was a bit of a foodie, had heard great things about the place and had taken it upon herself to book the table. Now, I’m not one to usually eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. But seated next to one another at one of those communal tables (they do have both pros and cons), overhearing what fellow patrons talk about is impossible. Upon browsing the chalkboard menu on the wall, her date’s “is this it?” query immediately revealed his dissatisfaction with what was on offer on a menu that is in my opinion,short, but stunning. Next, he glimpsed over at me at the very moment I was about to dig into a fork of horse tartar, imprudently pointing out “who’d wanna eat an old, moth-eaten mare?”

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I’ll return to my charming table neighbours in a moment, but first a quick run-through of the restaurant concept. After setting up furniture manufacturer Woodstockholm in 2010, mates Martin Stensö, Johan Edvardsson and Jon Åström Gröndahl have continued exploring new ways of showcasing the furniture brand’s designs by expanding their showroom to also include a small bistro, which opened earlier this year. Edvardsson, who has taken on the role as restaurant manager, has brought in chef Elias Eriksson and sommelier Gustav Hyllienmark to oversee the creation of the ambitious set menus (495 kronor), which explore different areas and topics. First up was the Salvador Dalí menu, which was replaced by the Stockholm menu in early July. These menus typically include a set of appetisers, followed by a main course. The previously mentioned horse tartar, along with a tasty poached oyster with almond foam and an exquisitely rich and slightly tangy oxtail broth were the starters on my visit. The entrée, consisting of quail stuffed with ground chicken on a bed of peas, popcorn and red wine sauce, and served with creamy polenta, created flavours that made the corners of my mouth turn upward in a gigantic beaming smile. It was dazzling in its rustic simplicity.

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Woodstockholm Matbaren’s main focus clearly lies on the hearty, as the desserts leave something to be desired. Both the ‘rhubarb and liquorice’ (110 kronor) and the Dalí-esquely named Vårtgård (70 kronor) areola – a round pastry with a cherry on top – lacked the execution in both flavour and presentation that the rest of the meal delivered.

And my neighbours, you wonder? Well, even they seemed smitten with most of the dishes when, after much debate, they got down to ordering a few of them. But at the same time, they left seemingly completely uncomprehending of Woodstockholm’s greatness. To me, the staff’s deep knowledge about and curiosity of food and beverages, the passion of head chef Eriksson in putting together masterful menus, and sommelier Hyllienmark’s gift in conveying the beverages he so carefully selected, are outstanding. The four at the table next to me just didn’t get it. They didn’t even make an attempt to try to get it. And for that, I judge them.

 

Woodstockholm Matbaren | Mosebacke Torg 9 | 08-369 399 | woodstockholm.com