Restaurants cast nibbles to bait weekday diners

Hoping to bait the penny-pinching fine diner, Stockholm's restaurant scene has turned to mid-sized dishes. On a visit to a new nibble nexus, The Local's Elodie Pradet reports on how the size of plates and of budgets have lead to new price-setting strategies.

Restaurants cast nibbles to bait weekday diners

After the trend for more natural and locally produced ingredients, the thriving dining scene in Stockholm is right now besieged by new initiatives where top chefs branch out to budget people. It’s the culinary equivalent of a fashion house’s diffusion brand.

Indeed, in 2013, small side-areas inside well-known high quality eateries have attempted to get both bargain-hunting families and weekday diners to fill up their seats at the table.

A second way to makes sure the throng of guests lasts beyond the pre-booked Friday and Saturday nights, restaurants are now also floating the mid-sized dish as a way to get more consumers consuming on any random Tuesday or Wednesday.

“Stockholm has always been known for its expensive restaurants, but right now, the trend is to develop the side-dish concept, with prices up to 200 kronor ($29) for a dish,” Anna Norström, restaurant reporter at the culture and lifestyle website Allt Om Stockholm.

Norström served up a long list of restaurants dishing up the mid-sized recipe: the famous Pontus! restaurant in April opened a no-reservation sister restaurant Pocket, just next to the restaurant on Stureplan. Swedish Michelin-star team at the restaurant Frantzén had already in March set its sight on a different slice of the market, by opening the gastropub The Flying Elk. Finally, Hornhusets on Långholmen island welcomes people on the second floor with smaller dishes, saying that “ordering more makes a perfect dinner”.

Inspiration for this cheaper dish usually comes from abroad. The Flying Elk hides an English concept, Pocket a French one with its bistro atmosphere. But one mid-sized dish caterer has breached the “exotic” trend and taken a deeper look at Swedish history. Newly opened restaurant Pharmarium has decided to source local inspiration by moving into what was once Sweden’s oldest pharmacy.

Quinine and benedictine are some of the other flavours dug out from the medicinal archives of the old pharmacy’s vaults, with the consultant Lisa Lönner Pulkkinen having headed back from working in the Stockholm archipelago to help add local spice to the new concept.

Products like herring, king crab, cauliflower, and cranberries, are used to entice your lips while you’re drinking a mixology created by the bartender John. Swedish delicacies like hjortron (cloudberries) are even used in the drinks, accompanied by smaller servings of, for example, cured Arctic char served on a bed of pearl barley.

IN PICTURES: Sip a dill n’ akvavit cocktail next to the flower distiller at Pharmarium in Old Town

“We can change the menu anytime, we’re flexible considering Lisa’s advice.”

Anyone who fancies more food, a pick n’ mix of mid-size dishes allows diners to create their own haute cuisine smörgåsbord.

Pharmarium also excels at a second restaurant trend – the novelty wining and dining concept, a way to stick your neck out in the heavy competition of the restaurant world. Lavender-tinted champagne in belle epoque flutes are one way to keep customers light-headed and coming back for more.

“It has an international atmosphere, we could find the same place in New York, Shanghai or London,” said Allt om Stockholm’s Anna Norström, before underlying another ongoing trend in Stockholm – the resuscitation of the once tourist-haunt littered Old Town (Gamla Stan), which now sports eateries like 19 Glas, Djuret and Pubologi.

“Right now, Gamla Stan is living some sort of a revival.”

Elodie Pradet

Follow Elodie on Twitter here

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Ethnic restaurants in Stockholm: a sampler

Looking for some exotic tastes during your trip to the Swedish capital? Contributor Emy Gelb serves up a selection of ethnic restaurants in Stockholm that will be sure to tickle your taste buds.

Ethnic restaurants in Stockholm: a sampler

Every now and then herring and potatoes gets old. While often delicious, the simplicity of Swedish foods sometimes gets you craving a bit of spice.

Luckily, waves of immigrants and curious travelers have brought a variety of exotic tastes back to Stockholm.

If you are in the mood for a tasty treat, check some of these delightful ethnic restaurants.

Shanti is a bohemian gem located in the heart of Söder, and is one of Stockholm’s best Indian restaurants. Warm service, elaborate décor, and homemade ingredients make Shanti an excellent place for an Indian meal.

There are a wide variety of delicious choices, ranging from extra mild to hot and spicy. Plus, there is a large selection of vegetarian options, packed with fresh vegetables and authentic spices.

For a closer look, check out the Shanti website.

Several Stockholm locals have told me that Akki Sushi is the only place where they will eat sushi. This tiny take away restaurant, located just steps away from Medborgarplatsen, is a favorite.

Fresh fish, reasonable prices, and fast service are what make this restaurant stand out from the classic, overly trendy sushi spots around town. This restaurant is a must for sushi lovers.

For more information, visit: Akki Sushi.

Long time Stockholm establishment Bern’s recently opened a Singaporean inspired street food restaurant on their terrace. Dishes range from pike wrapped in banana leaves to BBQ baby back ribs covered in plum sauce.

Paper lanterns, refreshing cocktails, and world class DJs add to the posh atmosphere. The terrace will stay open for the summer, but once the weather cools down, Bern’s Asian is another delightful alternative.

For more information, check out the Bern’s website.

Sa’hara Söder is solid Lebanese restaurant with super friendly service. The meze platters are huge but each plate that arrives at the table is unique, fresh, and tasty.

The desserts are especially delightful; the pistachio baklavas are the best I have tried. An extra plus, on Mondays and Tuesdays there are two for one deals.

For more information check out the Sa’hara Söder website.

Sabai-Soong is a kitschy, colourful Thai restaurant in the heart of Östermalm. Palm trees, twinkle lights, and authentic décor make stepping into this restaurant feel like arriving on a beach in Thailand.

The food is pretty straightforward, but good. It is the atmosphere that makes this place feel like a true vacation.

For more information, go to the Sabai-Soong website.

This is of course just a small selection of what Stockholm’s multicultural restaurant scene has to offer, so feel free to list your own favourite eating establishments below.