Lunch at Café Nizza: Spontaneity in French

Photo: Martin Henningsson

In October of last year, the team behind Babette took over restaurant Hjördis’ former corner locale, continuing the gastro revival of the eastern Södermalm block (that also houses Punk Royale, Nook and Ai Ramen) around Åsögatan. Slightly more polished and refined than its sister restaurant, Café Nizza simultaneously manages to mix laissez-faire and blithe.

Reserving a table for dinner means giving the kitchen team free reign over what is included in that particular evening’s three-course meal, so we decide that the lunch a la carte menu is better suited to our wish to decide what we eat (during the evening, drop-ins at the bar also get to select their preferred meal from an a la carte menu).

The selection of snacks available effectively demonstrates Café Nizza’s culinary approach; a Mediterranean-focused, ambitious neighbourhood restaurant with a profound love for quality produce. There are olives, ‘spalla’ (traditional cured pork from the area around Parma in Italy) and grilled mussels. The almonds (55 kronor) are of the Spanish variety – shorter and rounder in size, softer and sweeter in flavour than we’re used to. The flavoursome ‘cotto’ Italian-style ham (65 kronor) is quite thickly sliced, and simply placed in a pile on a plate. Don’t miss out on the ‘padrones’ peppers (85 kronor), which are quickly grilled, tossed in olive oil and topped with an outstanding Solano anchovy. Another restaurant quality-indicator is its wine list, and in this particular department, Nizza is no letdown. We’re recommended a glass of Hervé Souhaut’s Syrah (165 kronor) that, with its uncomplicated yet complex flavours, really complement the food.

The common qualities of Café Nizza’s short list of entrées are that they are simple, well-cooked and comforting. The chicken liver toast (155 kronor) with a curry-seasoned aubergine and pine nut chutney both smells and tastes wonderful – just be wary of the toast being a bit stale. We also fell in love with the Baccalà Mantecato (135 kronor), which is dried Atlantic cod that is soaked, poached and whipped until it takes on a mousse-like texture. Served with a red endive and walnut salad, it is the perfect cure for a cold and grey Stockholm day.

In many ways, Café Nizza is the perfect neighbourhood restaurant, which we would happily return to night after night, week after week – even year after year. The prices are mind-blowingly reasonable, the level of service superb and the food and wine to die for. If they just were to up their game on the desserts, there would really be nothing more we could ask for.

Åsögatan 171
08 640 99 50
cafenizza.se

Words: Micha van Dinther