March 04, 2020
Frantzén is the 29th restaurant on the quest. It was 21st on the list in 2019 and is a Michelin 3-star restaurant.
The sun has long set. Not that we would have seen it as it has been raining non-stop since our arrival to Stockholm. The cold precipitation has mostly subsided for our short walk from the hotel to the front door of the restaurant nestled a few steps up from the quiet side street we find ourselves on, its warm orange door inviting us in.
Except the door is locked. Are we too early?
I ring the doorbell.
The door opens and a hostess invites us in, offers to take our jackets, and provides some initial pleasantries. We mention our quest to visit 50 restaurants. She then directs us down a darkly lit hallway, at the end of which is an elevator. We step in and as the doors close, music begins to play until the doors open again at the restaurant level above.
There’s someone there to greet us and see us to our seat. They make mention of our quest. Wait, how does he know that? Was he listening in? Did she call up while we were in the elevator? Either way, I’m immediately impressed.
We enter into a somewhat small room with a kitchen prep area at the far end and low seating throughout the rest of the room. We are seated off to one side, giving us a clear view of the entire space. We start off the evening’s meal with a glass of champagne, a traditional start to a meal at these highfalutin restaurants, along with an assortment of small bites.
Will the whole meal be up here? That would be interesting. The door bell rings and I am suddenly clued in to the mood they are trying to set: we’re visiting someone’s house. It’s like we are in someone’s living room.
After we’ve had some time to enjoy our champagne, we are led down a level for a quick tour of their wine cellar, then their prep kitchen where we get a demonstration of their scallop preparation. They have a television mounted with a view of the kitchen in their sister restaurant in Singapore.
And finally, we are brought to the main dining area which features the main kitchen where the rest of tonight’s meal will be prepared for us. We are introduced to the head chef—a diminutive bespectacled Englishman with a calm smile—and then seated at a spot at the bar-style seating that runs along two sides of the kitchen. There were also a couple tables for larger groups. Overall, the restaurant seats maybe 25 people max.
Those scallops that were being prepped? They’re our first dish. Followed by a langoustine tail; a chawanmushi, a cream with abalone and topped with roe; a turbot with asparagus, walnuts, and topped with caviar; and king crab served with finger lime, pine & chrysanthemum.
After those dishes, the french toast topped with truffle—a dish that Frantzén has featured since 2008—provided a transition into the second half of the main meal including an almond dish in a foam; the lamb; and finally the waffles with salted carrot and pistachio. Lots of wonderful flavours and textures.
They offered up both an alcohol pairing and a juice pairing. Kitt chose the juice pairing and I took the alcohol pairing. Both were very well done with the alcohol pairing showing some surprises like a sake, a beer custom-made for Frantzén, and a verdelho at the French toast turn of the meal.
Of course, we’re by no means finished for the evening. We retire back upstairs in the “living room” for some after dinner snacks and—quelle surprise—an espresso.
I was quite delighted by the meal and, really, the whole experience. I was charmed by so many of the small touches along the way that elevated the entire evening. They definitely earn their three Michelin stars and near the top of my list of the world’s fifty best restaurants.