At home. Simply named, Ett Hem–a luxury boutique hotel and kitchen–has the feel of just that: being in the serenity of one’s own home. If, might I add, that home were incredibly well-appointed with an immaculately trimmed garden, and a world-class chef preparing every meal with the day’s freshest. Indeed, Ett Hem was once a private residence that has since been converted into a 12-room hotel that boasts the highest rating on the Small Luxury Hotels of the World list. Each guest room is uniquely decorated in an individual style with an eye towards refined luxury, without being stuffy.
Mr. S and I, our interest was certainly piqued after having seen Ett Hem named as one of Monocle magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list of 2015 in its Escapist issue. The meals are described as family style dining amidst a cozy, intimate atmosphere. So, prior to leaving for our recent trip to Stockholm, we made a reservation there, for Ett Hem’s 2-course lunch.
Located on a street corner in a quiet, residential neighborhood dotted with embassies, schools, and parks, Ett Hem sits, unassumingly, without any signage or indication it is a hotel. It’s only when you approach the courtyard entrance do you see the small iron lettering and plaque indicating its listing as a Small Luxury Hotel. We were buzzed in and immediately warmly greeted by the kitchen manager, Caroline who led us through the main foyer, past the drool-worthy sitting area, living room and library, to the kitchen. Typically, guests can choose where to dine: the homey kitchen, the bright and verdant greenhouse, or the formal dining room. The kitchen table had already been set for us, which is exactly where we wanted to sit, to be amidst the action in the kitchen.
Ett Hem’s chef, Leo, dressed casually in a button down and work apron, greeted us and announced the lunch menu for the day. At Ett Hem, fittingly, there are no written menus. The chef serves what he cooks, as if you were dining with a friend at their home. Thoughtful and focused looking, Chef described the two courses to be a veal tartar starter and a steamed cod and cauliflower dish.
We started off with a glass of lovely white Burgundy for myself and a locally brewed Saison, called Nymph, for Mr. S. Along with some homemade sourdough bread and butter. Even if the meal had ended here, I would have been a happy lady. The bread in Scandinavia is delightful.
First course up. Chef placed the veal tartar in front of us, a plate with a beautiful mound of colorful ingredients that more resembled a salad than a tartar. Our eyes bugged out at how bright and vibrant the dish looked. Coarsely chopped, rich and tender veal was topped with yellow foot chanterelles, pickled shallots, crisp baby lettuces, salty Parmigiano, black truffle, micro greens, toasted almonds, and plenty of flaky sea salt.
Tartar has never been a dish that I’ve personally craved or jumped at the chance to order from any menu. Until this one. Unlike the umami that is ubiquitous in Japanese dishes, this savoriness was earthy-imparted predominantly by the truffles, chanterelles, and Parm–yet bright from the pickles. An outstanding ensemble.
And as if Chef could read my mind, he brought out the second course–generously thick hunks of tender steamed cod. Up until this point of our Scandi trip, the cod had stood out as a local favorite, and for good reason. The quality of the cod is outstanding here–firm, flaky texture with a delicate sweetness. The steamed cod was paired with roasted cauliflower with just the right amount of char around the edges, fresh fennel fronds and fennel oil, Vendace fish roe, and a light butter sauce.
Fish with rich, cream sauces are my weakness, and this hit the spot. Particularly interesting was the additional of the fish roe, which not only imparted a different texture overall, but also a layer of salt and brine.
The unexpected surprise after all this food was the dessert. Caroline informed us that dessert is typically placed on the sideboard, and guests are free to help themselves. Can anyone, even someone with Herculean willpower, ever turn down a warm, buttery apple cake minutes out of the oven? I think not. So, even though we were quite full, we eagerly shared a plate of this cake.
The food at Ett Hem, simple with soul, is more than just comfort food. The dishes are multidimensional, with layers and layers of flavor. Paired with the intimate setting, and attentive and personal service, our experience at Ett Hem certainly comes in at our top 3 of our Copenhagen and Stockholm trip. I recommend, without reservation, booking a meal here, and dining in the kitchen, which feels almost nothing like a restaurant, but rather, a private dining experience at a friend’s home.
I leave you with some more scenes from this dreamy getaway.
Ett Hem, Sköldungagatan 2, 114 27 Stockholm
Reservations: Call +46 8 20 05 90 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org