Brunch at Villa Källhagen
For all its nearness to nature, Stockholm is not spoiled with peaceful terraces and gardens that are away from the city bustle but still close enough to be easily accessible. Villa Källhagen is one of the few exceptions. Just a five-minute walk from Östermalm and yet often forgotten, it’s been doing its thing on picturesque Djurgården since 1990.
The key word here is Swedish. The Sunday brunch, served in two sittings between 12.00 and 16.30, offers a generous buffet including most of the classic cold and warm dishes many Swedes – and no doubt, the hotel’s foreign guests – would expect: dill-cured and warm smoked salmon with boiled potatoes and mustard sauce, pickled herring, country pate and egg-anchovy salad on dark bread. The American side of the brunch tradition is represented with ribs, bacon, chicken legs and pancakes, not to mention the heaped dessert table, of which more later. Vegetarians haven’t been forgotten, either: there are several lovely salads and a mushroom omelette on offer.
Källhagen is not the place to look for contemporary, innovative cooking. They’re all about the classics, which is fine as long as it’s done well. And for the most part, it is. The cold dishes are the best; the red beet-chevré salad for instance, sometimes tasteless and disappointing, is juicy and well-balanced here. Gubbröra is served in individual, small bowls with a small piece of crispbread. The cured salmon is fantastic.
But the warm dishes, as so often in buffets, don’t get us going as much. The mushroom omelette is our favourite, but the thick American pancakes disappoint. I know that in advance when I see the waiter coming with a pile of them from the kitchen: they look half-cold and tired. Pancakes should always be eaten right after they’ve been fried.
Thankfully, we can seek solace in the cheeses and the desserts. The cheese table only has three varieties – a blue cheese, a brie and a mild hard cheese – but they’re all great and served with fresh sour-dough bread.
Among the desserts, we quickly identify the gems. Aside from the fresh fruit, we love the nougat lollipops, the home-made marmalade and the creme brûlée in two varieties – one with the traditional sugar coating and one topped with green apple jam. The brownies, topped with fresh raspberries, look absolutely delicious but turn out to be a bit dry.
Villa Källhagen is at its best when combined with a day spent in the former royal hunting grounds. Weather permitting, you should sit on the pretty terrace at the back of the building, overlooking Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen. Take a walk or visit one of the museums and then reward yourself with a long session sampling the buffet with a glass of champagne – it may be a somewhat uneven experience, but if you choose wisely, it’s 295 kronor well spent.
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Photos by Christoffer Ring