If you want to truly understand the Swedish culture, you must try their home cooking. Traditional Swedish cuisine, known as husmanskost, is a far more sophisticated pleasure than the dining room at Den Gyldene Frede than the Ikea cafeteria would leave you to believe. The refined-rustic tavern in the heart of old town (Gamla Stan) has been in the business showcasing Swedish natural inputs, from ocean’s bounty to wild flora and fauna, since 1922.
With a candle light dining room, creamy table cloths and sombre wood decor, it doesn’t seem to be a child-friendly place, but they rolled out two high chairs for us without batting and eye. Most things in Sweden are child-friendly, they just don’t go out of their way to use signifiers, like place mats you can colour. We recommend getting there before the adult dinner rush, say 5-6pm, with an advance reservation.
Yes, meatballs (köttbullar) with cream sauce and lingon berries feature on the menu. So does creamy langoustine soup, a deceptively simple scallop tartar with bleak roe and verbena, calf sausage with wild mushrooms from Hällestad, and poached cod with crispy skin and wild garlic. Whatever you choose as your main, you must start with their housemade Swedish herring (sill) with s with aquavit seasoned “Västerbotten” cheese. Then you’ll understand why so much of Swedish celebratory life revolves arount these tiny silver fish. Pair it with housemade Scandie schapps (Aquavit). A few tipples of the water of life and you won’t even notice if your kids are getting stink eye from the other guests.
Fun fact: This restaurant has been a centre for Swedish literature since the 18th century. It’s been immortalized in song by Swedish poet Carl Michael Bellman. The Swedish Academy, who nominate the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, meet here for their weekly dinner.
Österlånggatan 51, www.gyldenefreden.se
Read the full Small Folk Travel Stockholm Guide.