It is hard not to like Artipelag. When the art hall opened back in 2012, Stockholm and Sweden finally got a venue that could rival Danish art museum Louisiana. Even if Artipelag still has quite a way to go.
Artipelag’s attractiveness is threefold. There’s the stunning archipelago location, located between pine trees and cliffs with a view over Baggen’s Bay. Secondly, Artipelag’s founder Björn Jakobson made a wise choice in hiring architect Johan Nyrén to build a striking edifice that is perfectly embedded in the surrounding nature. Last, but definitely not least, is the art hall’s ambitious art department, which does an outstanding job in the curating of its exhibitions. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out the Edmund de Wall/Giorgio Morandi exhibition that runs until October 1.
A fourth draw that hasn’t been quite as explored as those of location, architecture and art is of course gastronomy, which seems to have been overshadowed by the aforementioned attractions. On the second floor, located next to the large entrance hall, is Bådan Buffet & Café, which serves up an impressive array of foods. But we’ve saved up our appetite for Artipelag Restaurang, an airy fine dining space with its own à la carte menu. For lunch, the restaurant offers a three-course meal for no more than 495 kronor – great value for money in our book. What’s more, Artipelag focuses on seasonal, organic and local produce, some of it harvested right above our heads in the rooftop garden.
We start off with a leafy salad with lightly smoked char, sugar snaps, poached quail eggs and horseradish. Surprisingly delicate in flavour, we wish the salad had been more aggressively seasoned, but the salt grinder is nowhere in sight. The “home-salted” fish roe with marrow, sour crème, pickled red onions and sorrel, served on a crispy brioche bun is to our liking – it delivers a strong symphony of colours and flavour to both eyes and mouth.
The vegetarian truffle cannelloni is a hit. The al dente cylindrical pasta is stuffed with a flavourful cabbage and herb stew and topped with lettuce and crisp chantarelles. Also the aged steak, which comes with chantarelles, grilled onions, an emulsion of roasted tallow with thyme and a side of crispy potato croquettes, works very well. The perfectly seared steak is tender as butter, with the knife slicing through it effortlessly.
We would also like to put in a good word for Artipelag’s desserts, beautifully presented in ceramic bowls. We tried a gooseberry tart filled with yogurt ice cream and elderflower, as well as crumble pie-inspired dessert with blueberries, caramelized spelt, forest honey and ice cream that both left us wanting more.
So why doesn’t the gastronomy at Artipelag have the same grip as the art hall’s other features? It needs to drop the overly cautious approach, and dare to step up the game in the kitchen and as well as in service. And why not let the dining room have a look and feel of its own that feels more inviting and personal than the governmental canteen look it has today? We’re certain that a few tweaks here and there would make all the difference.
Artipelagstigen 1, Gustavsberg
08 571 130 00
Words: Micha van Dinther