I’m often asked if I visited Sweden just to go to Fäviken. And it’s a fair question, for Fäviken Magasinet is a unique, intimate restaurant in Järpen, about 700 kilometres north of Stockholm, happily sitting in the middle of nowhere. Led by young chef Magnus Nilsson, with his commitment to real food (read: local, seasonal and foraged ingredients), it is justly counted as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. But the trip to Fäviken is not an easy one, requiring a flight, drive and hotel check in. Only then, being mindful of time, do you set out for the restaurant, located in a converted grain store within a 24,000-acre hunting estate.
Upon entering the restaurant I am greeted by what appears to be almost every member of the Fäviken team, including the head chef. Feeling immediately welcome I manage to chat with Nilsson without looking too much like the chef-groupie I am. I think. The room is as rustic as the location is remote, featuring simple wooden tables and chairs, a hanging full length wolf fur coat (Nilsson’s winter foraging wear) and small vases of local greenery, all bathed in the soft flickering light of candles and spotlights. Very cosy indeed.
To the clapping of hands (the signal that announces each dish and also how Swedish children know to stop talking, the first appetiser arrives – linseed and vinegar crisps with mussel dip. The crisps are as fine and delicate as you can imagine, a thin layer of linseeds suspended in an invisible crisp cracker, and the creamy dip complements it perfectly. Tick.
24 more ‘courses’ follow; a journey through amazing produce and interesting ideas. The huge scallop from Norway cooked over burning juniper branches is a highlight – soft, succulent, pearly meat served on the shell in its own cooking juice. Similarly memorable is the porridge of grains and seeds finished with a big lump of salty butter, fermented carrot and wild leaves, beef broth filtered through moss’. With a complex texture and flavour it is truly divine. The bowl is definitely too small and we want more. Tick, tick.
The brown cheese pie is possibly my favourite dessert (but it is hard to decide) – dark, caramely, smooth custard, complete with a spooned in smiley face, sitting on top of sweet, cake-like pastry. The sweets continue with some strange creations (like sugar-coated, pickled, semi-dried root vegetables) but it is the tiny, teaspoon-sized ‘bon-bon’ of pure rasberry ice that I find perfectly simple and fabulous. Only my husband is brave enough to stick a bit of snus (like snuff) in his mouth to finish the meal. cowards, the rest of us!
So back to that first question. I always wanted to visit Sweden, the Fäviken reservation just confirmed that this was the time to do so.Thus the answer is, sort of. Fäviken is a magical dining experience, a must-do if you’re going to be almost nearby.
Words by Lisa Goldberg – Taken from issue 5, the Sweden magazine.