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November 11, 2008

Stockholm's Savory Side

Pelikan
Crayfish with buttered toast at Pelikan.

In his November-issue article for Condé Nast Traveler, "Sleepless in Stockholm," Patrick Symmes writes: "Food has opened a hundred doors for me, and the Swedes, like people everywhere, are what they eat."

The golden-haired Swedish stereotype is gone; now Chileans, Greeks, Turks, Arabs, and, most recently, Iraqis, have chopped up the city and sautéed it with new, more robust spices. Still, though, Old Scandinavia lives, and Symmes found the restaurants to prove it:

* Gondolen serves cocktails, lobster, and toast skagen from an aerie overlooking the Old Town (6 Stadsgården; 8-641-70-90; entrées, $40-$70). "The simplest dish--toast skagen, or crayfish salad on buttered bread--was at once clean and rich, and no other dish seemed necessary ever again," writes Symmes.

* Bakfickan, off a side entrance to the Opera House, is a cozy, even crowded purveyor of traditional Swedish foods (12 Jakobstorg; 8-676-58-09; entrées, $21-$49). Upstairs, via the opera's main entrance, is the formal, one-Michelin-star Operakällaren, specializing in updates on such Swedish classics as reindeer steak (Karl II's Torg; 8-676-58-01; entrées, $45-$75).

* Pelikan is a cavernous and candlelit hall of worn wood, rich beers, and fresh husmanskost, a classic Swedish sampler of salmon, dilled egg halves, shrimp, pâté, ham, beets, and, yes, meatballs (40 Blekingegatan; 8-556-090-90; entrées, $22-$33). "I received...a triptych of little herrings that went down like an arpeggio of salt, spice, sweet, and vinegar."

* The Chokladkoppen ("Chocolate Cup") is an Old Town standard for coffee, tea, sandwiches, and treats (18-20 Stortoget; 8-20-31-70; entrées, $6-$12).

Check out the article for more on the new and the old Stockholm.

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