06 October 2016

Weekend in Stockholm: Where To Shop and Eat

For such a short visit to Stockholm, I managed to check out a fair few cafés, restaurants and shops and I've listed some of my favourites below; I'm saving most of the best coffee shops for tomorrow's post, although a couple are featured here too; for sight-seeing suggestions and practical tips, check out this post.

Gamla Stan
I wanted to experience a tasting menu while in Stockholm and I decided on Pubologi (Stora Nygatan 20), which has the same owners as my hotel. The restaurant is small, with only 20 or so covers, and minimalist. They are only open in the evenings and do a five-course tasting menu, which varies seasonally, for 695 SEK (about £64). I knew it was going to be a good meal when I walked in to the sound of The National. Curiously, at each place setting there is a glass panel above a small drawer that holds the menu, serviette and enough cutlery for all of the courses. The service was truly excellent and the food was incredible. It was the best kind of tasting menu in that it pushed me way outside my comfort zone — I probably wouldn't have ordered any of the dishes from an à la carte menu but I enjoyed everything and finished every bite. The dishes were creative with wonderful flavour combinations; my favourite might have been the chard-baked pike-perch with tart butter, grilled corn and tarragon juice, but the initial 'snacks' were great too. I finished the meal with a glass of housemade plum liqueuer, and what a meal it was! I definitely recommend Pubologi but booking is essential.

On Saturday night, my friend and I went for drinks at one of the bars in my hotel, Tweed (Lilla Nygatan 5), which is a vintage-insired whiskey joint. The cocktail menu is extensive. I asked after the 'PBJ on Wholegrain' just to rule it out but the waiter pitched it well: the peanut butter is blended with the whiskey using a special machine and the end product was absolutely delicious, by turns smooth and tart. Tweed is a fun and cosy spot for a drink (or two). The other Gamla Stan bar on my list was Corner Club (Lilla Nygatan 16); I didn't have time to visit but it looked like an excellent spot for cocktails.

A lot of the shops on Gamla Stan are geared towards tourists, but there are a couple of nice lifestyle and homeware boutiques on Västerlånggatan: Iris Hantverk (no. 24), which has gorgeous throws and Swedish-made gifts, and E. Torndahl (no. 63), which stocks a small but well-curated collection of accessories and homewares. I particularly liked the Nordlys (northern lights) Skandinavisk candles at E. Torndahl; they would make a beautiful gift.

There are three branches of Grandpa in Stockholm (the others are in Södermalm and Norrmalm) but this location at Fridhemsgatan 43 was the first one I visited and probably my favourite. Grandpa is effortlessly cool but unpretentious and sells men's and women's fashions and accessories, gifts and homewares. You can even buy samples of the paint they use for their walls! The Kungsholmen branch is connected to an equally cool bar and restaurant called Sixten & Frans. I wasn't there at the right time, but it looked like a hip but relaxed place to hang out.

The café-gallery-shop space at Snickarbacken (pictured below) no. 7 is a good option for refuelling after a hard morning of pounding the pavements of Norrmalm. The coffee is very good and it's a nice place for a light lunch or pastry. There are multiple branches of the bakery Fabrique in Stockholm (there are also three in London), including at Drottninggatan 102, and the cinnamon and cardamom buns are always spot on. For a good-value and very tasty burger, I recommend Vigårda (pictured below); they have several branches but I went to the one near the bus station at Kungsgatan 25. The restaurant is cool and minimalist and there's a cocktail bar too. Just be aware that they don't take cash.

If Muji and Ikea had a baby, it might look a bit like Granit, which sells good-value and well-designed minimalist homewares. It's a great place for stocking up on items for your kitchen or living room; sadly, I couldn't quite carry home the solid granite cutting board! There are a handful of branches in central Stockholm, but the store at Kungsgatan 42 was my favourite. If Granit stocks the useful, then DesignTorget stocks the beautiful and useful. A little more expensive than Granit, DesignTorget, as its name suggests, sells some lovely design goods — it's a great place for gift shopping. H&M isn't, perhaps, the most exciting shop to include in a shopping guide but the store at Drottninggatan 50, Norrmalm's main drag, is currently a pop-up interiors concept store. They sell fresh flowers and some higher-end (but still cheap) homewares with a design twist.

I didn't spend much time in the district that lies, as its name may suggest, to the east of Norrmalm. I did stop by Östermalms Saluhall, the historic gourmet food hall on Östermalmstorg. It's a good place to shop for food or to grab a drink or a light bite at one of the counters. The restaurant at Strandvägen 1 (named, strangely enough, Strandvägen 1), right on the harbour looked lovely — modern and unpretentious — and I heard great things about the rotisserie chicken.

I arrived in Stockholm at lunchtime and headed straight to Södermalm, stopping for lunch at Bageri Petrus (Swedenborgsgatan 4B). I had a delicious cardamom bun and a mozzarella baguette (on divine house-baked bread). You can eat in but I walked up to Mariatorget park to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. Another great bakery find was Il Caffè Söder (Södermannagatan 23; pictured below), which had a huge queue outside on a sunny Sunday afternoon. They do all sorts of cakes and pastries, but the blackcurrant bun I had was beautiful and very tasty.

I had lunch on Sunday at the self-proclaimed 'meatballeria' Meatballs for the People (Nytorgsgatan 30). You order at the bar — the classic meatballs, served with mash, lingonberries and cucumber, are 125 SEK (about £11.50), or 95 SEK if you arrive before noon. I sat at the bar and there was a hip but relaxed vibe. You can even buy some meatballs to cook at home. It was, unfortunately, closed at lunch on Sunday, but Woodstockholmen (Mosebacke torg 9), near the Katarina lift, looked like a lovely neighbourhood restaurant. I also liked the look of Pelikan (Blekingegatan 40).

Södermalm is a shopper's paradise and there are numerous places to indulge in some retail therapy, from quirky independent stores to Swedish and international chains. In the area known as SoFo (South of Folkungagatan), I really liked 6/5/4 (Nytorgsgatan 27; pictured below), which sells men's and women's fashions with a surfy, outdoor vibe; they also have an in-shop coffee shop, reminding me of Saturdays Surf in SoHo, New York. For higher-end Swedish fashions, Acne Studios is just across the road at no. 36, and next door to that is a branch of Swedish Hasbeens for all your funky shoe needs. Slightly further south at Nytorget 4 is a great deli and casual eatery called Urban Deli (pictured below). If it's a nice day, pick up a picnic to eat in Nytorget park.

Further west on Åsögatan is Stutterheim Raincoats ("Swedish melancholy at its driest") at no. 136 and clothing and accessories boutique Rokas at no. 128. One block north at Kocksgatan 19 is a craft beer store and bar called Bottle Shop (technically, Bottl3 5hop).

In the more northerly section of Södermalm (NoSo?), west of the bridges to Gamla Stan, there are some lovely shops on Hornsgatan, including vintage boutique Herr Judit (no. 65); House of Rym (no. 73), which sells Swedish ceramics and homewares; and cool fashion boutique WOS (no. 98). One block further south is Krukmakargatan, which also has some great shops, including the petite but perfectly formed independent book and magazine store Papercut at no. 24.

I didn't do much shopping in Vasastan, the smart neighbourhood northwest of Norrmalm, as I was primarily there to café-hop. Bakery & Spice (Torsgatan 46; pictured below) is a tiny bakery that sells fantastic bread and buns; my cinammon bun came topped with pecans. A few doors down is Kaffeverket (Sankt Eriksgatan 88); I went for coffee but it's a really popular brunch spot, as is the lovely Cafe Pascal (Norrtullsgatan 4), which does fab salads and brunchy sandwiches.

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