Dinner at Rutabaga: Veggies We Worship

Four plain white porcelain plates, each containing a simplistic dish – roasted and spiced cashews, yoghurt butter, diced and delicately cured cucumber and sesame rolls – are carefully placed on the blond-wood table in front of us. We sip on our turnip, rum and lime sour (175 kronor) while studying the menu’s distinct black lettering, printed on tactile yet highly toned-down white paper.

This Quaker-esque setting, with communal tables and a push for simplicity, humility and a focus on produce, is Mathias Dahlgren’s, Sweden’s only Bocuse d’Or winner, latest venture. It replaces Matsalen, a fine-dining restaurant that was awarded two Michelin stars, after a decade in operation. At the time of closing, Dahlgren noted it was time to do something new, an expressed a desire to play an active part in the upsurge in vegetarian dining in Sweden. Rutabaga is his vision of future cuisine, in the form of world-class lacto-ovo-vegetarian dishes.

All items on the menu are designed for sharing and although we opt for the tasting menu (675 kronor) and the two-glass wine menu (300 kronor), everything is served on one plate, equipped with a fork or spoon to transfer the food over to our personal plates. First up are a couple of cold dishes – grated carrots topped with roasted peanuts and a zingy Vietnamese dressing, and a cabbage, sesame, zucchini and yuzu salad with flakes of coconut. It’s a nice warm-up, but we can’t help but crave more cooked foods. The wait isn’t long before our wish is granted – a wonderful grilled sweet gem lettuce with smoked mayonnaise and chimichurri sauce is an almost divine experience, and it’s literally gone in a matter of moments. The braised fennel with potato crème and hazelnuts is silky smooth and flavourful, and gives that sense of satiation which is often lacking in vegetarian cuisine. We adore the Sybille Kuntz Riesling, served with a crisp cracker covered with caramelised onions and topped with a generous sprinkling of summer truffle. There’s also a 63-degree egg with mushrooms and soy butter sauce, though it isn’t quite up to the standards of previous dishes.

While enjoying the coconut, lingonberry and dulce de leche dessert, the conversation drifts to the making of life-altering decisions, an example of which we’ve just witnessed first-hand. Going from a widely celebrated fine-dining restaurant to a casual yet ambitious vegetarian venue takes guts. Although the aim – to become one of the world’s top vegetarian establishments – is still a distance away, Dahlgren has mapped out a clear-cut route to the finish line. In veggies we trust.

Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6
08 679 35 84
mdghs.se/rutabaga

Words: Micha van Dinther

Photo: Magnus Mårding