‘You can’t eat when your tongue’s hanging out’

Kathleen Harman takes her overseas guests to some of Stockholm's flashier nightspots, but finds that the sight of tall, blonde women is enough to put her companions right off their food.

Tipping Point

As a small but generously proportioned brunette, I do sometimes feel like a Shetland pony in a field of Andalusian dancing horses when compared to my tall, slim, blonde, leggy Swedish female peers. For the most part this doesn’t bother me in the slightest, given that the world needs Shetland ponies too, but it was evident on a recent night out that these ladies were interfering with my dining companions’ digestive abilities.

Not that it was the fault of my tall, slim, blonde, leggy Swedish female peers. They were busily going about their evenings out, unaware of the acute discomfort they were causing this particular bunch of international businessmen. From the outset it was obvious that these guys were having great difficulty eating and drinking, hampered by the fact that one cannot perform either of those functions with one’s tongue hanging out of one’s mouth.

Now, it would be unfair to brand these particular gentlemen as chest thumping chauvinists. It was just that they appeared to be completely overwhelmed by the beautiful women of Stockholm – in fact, they concurred, if the blonde one from Abba or even the gorgeous Britt Ekland were to walk into the restaurant there and then, they would go unnoticed amongst the visions of loveliness they found themselves surrounded by that evening.

I just grazed on my salad and let them get on with it, mildly amused at seeing the city from a male visitor’s point of view, even if this particular view was probably trained somewhere around the chest region of every tall, slim, blonde leggy Swedish female in central Stockholm.

We were dining at Grill Ruby, a mid to fairly pricey restaurant in Gamla Stan. It specializes in grilled fish and meat and manages somehow to be both relaxed but ever so slightly flash at the same time, the sort of place where you might want to take someone if you wanted to impress them but not make a big deal out of it…great for relaxed business dinners or potential hot dates.

The tables are quite packed together though, which means that there isn’t a great deal of privacy so if your hot date were to be warming up nicely, you might want to move on elsewhere. But the atmosphere is great in a lively, canteen clattering way and the staff have got to be amongst the best in Stockholm, genuinely welcoming and friendly.

Our steaks were cooked perfectly and my side orders of garlic mushrooms and parmesan sprinked ruccolo salad made for a very tasty nosebag indeed. Starters are around the 130 sek, with the main meal averaging between 250 and 300 sek. The clientele, as well as being visions of loveliness, seemed an animated and happy bunch so all in all, a perfect venue for a Friday night out.

No sooner than dinner was finished, my dining companions were out of their starting gates and heading in the direction of Gondolen at Slussen in order to catch more sights of the stunning sirens of Stockholm. Being stumpy of fetlock, I trotted along as fast as I could, bringing up the rear.

Eriks Gondolen is a restaurant and bar suspended between an office block and the Katarinahissen that conveys guests to their aerial destination. The view is breathtaking and because the bar is so narrow, with huge windows on either side, you really do feel as if you are in a Zeppelin’s gondola.

I could have spent all evening with my nose pressed up against the windows looking out at the twinkly lights, images of the Hindenburg bursting into flames filed firmly away in my subconscious. Rather boringly however, one of my companions decided to have an attack of vertigo at that point, so we were obliged to leave. An attack of vertigo must be a side effect of ogling taller than average women, I mused quietly to myself.

The next stop on our evening extravaganza was Café Opera at Kungstragarden. Now, there is no getting over the fact that you may well have to sell a kidney to fund such a finale to a night out on the tiles but let’s face it, you can manage with one kidney, but life without seeing this place is not a life worth living.

The entry fee to the club is 140 sek, then there’s the cloakroom charge which really gets my proverbial goat, and then there’s the drink that is expensive, even by Stockholm standards. But just go in and pay the entry fee, even if you have to drink the water out of the taps in the toilets for the evening, because it really is that fantastic.

Café Opera is a beautiful establishment full of beautiful people. The decor is jaw droppingly gorgeous, all art nouveau panelling and phantasmagorical chandeliers.

So, what with the dropping jaws and the tongues still hanging out at the sight of a veritable stable of Stockholm’s finest fillies, it was no surprise that my companions had, by this stage, lost the power of speech. This was a relief because the whole ‘tall, slim, blonde, leggy Swedish female’ spotting game had become tedious in the extreme.

And so it was time for me to bid adieu to my companions. As I turned back to see them lurching slightly backwards and forwards, through that heady combination of expensive alcohol and expensive women, I reflected that it was far better to be a Shetland pony than a nodding donkey.

Kathleen Harman