With its scraped-back interiors of birch chairs and concrete floors, the Stockholm buzz restaurant Ekstedt is the first to make the list at number two.
Zagat credits head chef Niklas Ekstedt for “going back to basics” and cooking the food on a Scandinavian open flame.
“The result? You can barely get into the place, natch,” writes Zagat in its review of the restaurant on Humlegårdsgatan 17 in central Stockholm.
Ekstedt has previously worked abroad for famous restaurants including El Bulli and The Fat Duck.
The menu includes reindeer calf braised over coals served with caramalized cabbage and accented with truffle and bone marrow. Another main is hay-smoked char with chanterelle preserve and trout caviar.
A second Swedish eatery also makes an appearance on the list.
The four-year old eatery Fäviken Magasinet in Jämtland County is run by 28-year-old chef Magnus Nilsson.
Surrounded by bucolic vistas, his restaurant offers food sourced locally, often from the country estate’s own fields or a local hunter’s latest kill in the Järpen area.
“The chef’s cooking philosophy,” notes Zagat, “is founded on his hyper-local products, some foraged and many farmed on-site, put together simply and daringly with that unmistakable Scandinavian edge.”
The menu changes every day.
On Thursday, the restaurant was preparing to serve up scallops in their shells roasted over birch coals and juniper twigs. Visitors could also go for a traditional porridge made of local cereals and seeds, served with a meat broth filtered through moss.
Cuts from a two-year-old duck bought from a local farmer nicknamed “Duck Man” is also on the menu. Ducks are normally slaughtered in the first few months of life, noted Nilsson’s partner Johan Agrell.
“At two years of age, the duck’s had a chance to live a little, rather than be pumped full of food. The normal poultry industry is a dirty business,” he told The Local.
“And gastronomically, the flavour is richer.”
Agrell welcomed the Zagat heads up.
“If you run a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, publicity is a good thing, but it’s never the goal,” he told The Local.
“You have to serve food you yourself want to eat.