Lunch at Snack Bar
Fast food du paradise
At first sight, the sandwich Americain – a full-length baguette filled with chopped up pieces of meat, dripping with cheese and finally filled to the brim with French fries (yes, inside the bread) – is nothing but a crude deviation to all things edible. And to think that it was born in France, the cradle of modern haute cuisine…
The Americain, which is served by street vendors all over France for about five Euros, has finally made it to Sweden – but in an upgraded form, which naturally also entails an upgraded price tag.
It is Saturday just past noon, and K25, Stockholm’s trendiest food court is utterly frantic. People, baby carriages and shopping bags fill the space, while hungry, zombie-like parties line up to place their orders at one of the many counters. Luckily, the queue in front of Snack Bar isn’t quite as insuperable as the one of next-door fast food neighbour *Vigårda*. But I am guessing it is only a matter of time before the rest of Stockholm discovers the true beauty and ingenuity of French fast food.
Snack Bar, the creation of Jon Lacotte (formerly at Frantzén) and a couple of the guys behind Provence-loving restaurant Chez Betty, is inspired by the tiny southern French food joints that line the beaches and cobblestoned streets. With only two options on the menu – the previously mentioned Americain, and a kebab du Veau – Snack Bar’s vision is to perfect these street food classics. And they’ve done their research – Lacotte spent a month travelling France, eating at least a kebab a day.
Eager to see how Snack Bar has managed to elevate the kebab and sandwich Americain, my lunch date and I get one of each. The kebab (95 kronor), containing thinly scraped grassfed veal from France, Batavia salad, tomato, white onion, harissa, olive oil and home made sauce blanche (a whip-up of fromage blanc, yoghurt and several different herbs), is served in a so-called galette. The first bite is permeated with a sense of quality, craftsmanship and love – but the overall culinary sensation never really passes the epithet ‘really good fast food.’ Which is perfectly fine, of course.
From the bar stools overlooking the crowded room, I bite into my halved Americain (100 kronor). Snack Bar’s version is made of succulent pieces of roughly ground chuck steak, caramelized onions, melted cheddar cheese, French fries and sauce Samourai – a sophisticated blend of mayonnaise, harissa, Heinz ketchup, lemon and garlic, which can be found in plastic tubes in French grocery stores, but is handmade by Snack Bar. On one hand, I feel like I should be disgusted by the blunt mixture of ingredients, all mooshed up and only held together by the baguette and the paper wrap that surrounds it.
But I can’t. It is simply brilliant. The massive portion and the clever combination of flavours makes it all you could ever wish for in fast food. Move over pizzas, kebabs, hotdogs and hamburgers, and donnez-moi a baguette Americain – tout de suite.
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Photo: Fredrik Skogkvist