Gothenburg, with a metropolitan population of just under 1 million, boasts five Michelin starred restaurants. However, it doesn’t take a star for the restaurants here to shine. For the culinary traveler, Gothenburg offers an array of dining opportunities at various price levels. When Tom and I visited in September, the chefs at Familjen got our taste buds going on our very first evening in the city, working wonders with locally sourced ingredients that showcased each one.
We began with the heartiest amuse bouche I’ve had: a mackerel-tomato spread and Swedish crispbread. The little mason jar of fishy goodness and omega 3s was empty in no time.
My starter of bleak roe from Spiken came with a pancake, sour cream and pickled onion. Tom’s ‘Mowitz chicken’ was topped with flash-fried cabbage, sliced onion and fresh baby spinach leaves, offering a rewarding burst of flavor–salty, sour, and mineral–with each bite.
The centerpiece of the meal, though, was lamb from Bitterna, ultra tender and tasting of Swedish meadow. It came with salt-baked beet roots, pickled beets, deep fried capers (this turns them into crispy little flowers: who knew?) and a red wine sauce.
Desserts were memorable: a yellow plum soup with ice cream of cream cheese and honey, topped with almond biscuits; and a chunky vanilla pudding with blueberry sorbet, dressed with red currants and an almond crisp.
Moderately priced wine pairings worked too: Le Pigeoulet des Brunier, from Vaucluse in Languedoc and a Chateau de Donjon Grande Tradition–Minervois.
Björn Persson, the culinary entrepreneur behind Familjen, says the restaurant represents the concept of family, taken outside the home. The restaurant is a popular destination for locals wanting to socialize with good friends over food from a rustic Swedish kitchen. Everything is sourced from within 300 kilometers, with the aim to provide the most aromatic meats and freshest vegetables possible (in winter, this means lots of root vegetables).
Familjen came on the Gothenburg food scene in 2009, preceded by the Michelin-starred Kok & Vin, a leader in promotion of Nordic cuisine, and Björn’s Bar, an easy-going, centrally located watering hole . Familjen combines the approach of these two. The bar at Familjen has been nominated as the best bar in Sweden in the country’s prestigious White Guide, and bar manager Tom Surma sticks with the local-products idea: juniper- or rosemary-infused gin and tonic, anyone?
Björn Persson’s latest venture is the just-opened Spisa, inspired by the informal kitchens of Europe’s Mediterranean South, located on trendy Övre Husargatan.
We loved our evening at Familjen, and now have three more reasons to return to Gothenburg!
My husband and I were in Gothenburg to attend the World Food Travel Summit, convening in Europe for the first time. Our meal at Familjen was a delicious introduction to Sweden‘s vibrant food culture.