In January 4th the relatively anonymous doors opened at the highly-anticipated restaurant created by Filip Fastén, Swedish chef of the year in 2014, in the semi-off location in Stockholm neighbourhood Sibirien. Whether the sign is purposefully left out, or if it is still having to be put up, is unclear as Joel Åhlin, Fasténs chef-partner in crime, meets and greets us at the door at Agrikultur.
Fastén and Åhlin, who met in the kitchen at Le Rouge many years back, have reunited a few times since – last we saw them set up the pop-up dining experience for the summer of 2015 at Fabriken Furillen on the island of Gotland. Their partnership has lead to a vision – a gastronomic culture, if you wish – that now has been fully implemented at Agrikultur. The vision’s core is based around the disheartening fact that two-thirds of the planet’s surface would have to be dedicated to beef cattle if we were to keep consuming food in the same fashion as we do today. The solution, as seen by Fastén and Åhlin, is to eat less protein, opt for local and seasonal produce and stay away from imported foods. Although this is by no means a new train of thought, few establishments manage to implement these as cleverly and solidly as at Agrikultur, forming a sustainable ethos they hope to spread around the country.
The tiny restaurant and open kitchen space, the layout of which is reminiscent of a domestic open-plan kitchen and dining room, is intimate and cosy. Although guests are seated in close proximity to one another, there is still a personal sphere around each table. We’re introduced to the set menu of the evening (615 kronor) by a charming server who, upon our query about beverages, with a disarming laugh exclaims that “we don’t believe in wine-pairing menus”. Instead, she recommends getting a bottle to “get acquainted with during the evening”, leading us to order an elegant red Côtes du Jura (765 kronor) by Jean Bourdy.
We start off with a couple of snacks – a celeriac dumpling and a crispy pork rind – before we’re served fresh pita bread from the oven and butter from Järna Mejeri dairy farm. This simple yet exceptional introduction makes way for an equally humble kale soup. The skrei cod – lean, tender and flaky – is layered with potatoes, shrimp and egg on a porcelain plate, creating an interesting hotchpotch of flavours that are slightly too muddled to distinguish from one another. The next dish, a fallow deer heart thinly sliced and served with a salad flavoured with horseradish and smoked flakes of pork, is dazzling in its clarity and potency of flavour. While the Jerusalem artichoke, red endive and wood-oven baked cream isn’t the prettiest dish out there, it sure makes up in flavours for what it lacks in looks. Like comfort food, but without all the heavy carbohydrates.
Although we love the idea of dessert consisting of blueberries, apples and celeriac, we feel slightly let down by the last course, which doesn’t quite reach up to its full potential in flavour and detail. But who cares, when the rest of the meal is so damn good. We leave feeling extremely appreciative of the meal itself, but also of the entire philosophy that lies at the heart of Agrikultur. Where can we apply to join the club?
dinner at Agrikultur: Roslagsgatan 43 08 15 02 02 agrikultur.se
story / Micha van Dinther