Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Stockholm in winter (Part 2)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Hermans1
From the dining room at Hermans, Stockholm’s best-known veggie restaurant, you can watch the boats plying their way between the city’s islands throughout your meal. Even on a grey, misty day, the view is enchanting. On the right of the photo, a folded sunshade waits for warmer weather before welcoming customers to a table on the terrace.

We went there on a Wednesday because that’s when the lunchtime buffet is 100% vegan. For 100 SEK* you can pile your plate with a wide choice of hot and cold dishes. Coffee and a selection of teas and tisanes are included. I ate all this…

H_Entree1H_Plat1

 
 
 
 
 
 

H-Dessert3

 
 … leaving a little room for one of the desserts which, like other drinks, cost extra.

Hermans is at Fjällgatan 23B, on the north-east corner of Södermalm island. Remember to book a table by the window to enjoy the view.
 

Much smaller, but in my opinion offering even better food, is Hermitage, at Stora Nygatan 6, in the heart of the Old Town (Gamla Stan). The lunch menu is similar – buffet plus hot drinks – and we ate very well there for 90 SEK*. The bread rolls were excellent.

Hermitage1

Just across the street at Stora Nygatan 11, you’ll find Sattva Naturbageriet, an organic bakery selling vegan bread and cakes. The company’s main outlet is at Krukmakargatan 27A.

At Chutney (Katarina Bangata 17-19), the vegetarian and vegan dishes are particularly attractively presented, so it was a shame my camera decided to go on strike that day. Be warned: the portions are American-sized. Not knowing whether they had also adopted the transatlantic custom of doggy bags and not daring to ask, I was once again forced to clear my plate.

Abyssinia+P1

The same thing happened at Abyssinia, Vanadisvägen 20, an Ethiopian restaurant a short walk from our hotel.

Samples of specialities (veggie, vegan or including meat) from this elegant cuisine are served on large pancake-style breads. Everything was delicious, original and superbly spicy. The desserts looked more mundane, which was just as well because we couldn’t have managed another mouthful.

The warm welcome and attentive service made for a particularly pleasant evening.

 
Another, larger Abyssinia can be found at Ringvägen 105, in the south of the Södermalm district.

It’s as well to remember that people in Sweden eat early (often at around 6pm) so check restaurant opening times if you plan to dine out.

Tasty and affordable lunches are also available at the city’s covered markets. We looked around three of them.

In the Östermalm market, Planet Food sells a variety of vegan sandwiches and freshly made juices. At the food market on the fifth and sixth floors of Söderhallarna, a new shopping centre, it’s easy to find a veggie snack: try Beirut Café Deli, for instance (vegans can ask for a "mezetallrik" without yogurt). The more multicultural basement market at Hötorget will delight fans of chocolate and Middle Eastern sweetmeats.

Finally, here’s a short list of veg-friendly Stockholm restaurants we didn’t get around to visiting. Next time…

Lao Wai
(Chinese, vegetarian), Luntmakargatan 74
Govindas (Indian, vegetarian), Fridhemsgatan 22
Legumes (veggie buffet), Hornsgatan 80
Malaysia (vegetarian and vegan options), Luntmakargatan 98
Kokyo (vegetarian and vegan options), Sveavägen 105

* Swedish kronor. Check the latest exchange rates here.

Stockholm in winter (Part 1)

Friday, January 21st, 2011

It may not be the first season that comes to mind when you consider travelling north but I’ve returned from the Swedish capital thinking there may be no such thing as a bad time of year to visit this enchanting city.

Stockholm in the snow seemed to have slipped straight out of a fairy tale. It was beautiful, elegant and above all practically empty: no traffic jams, no queues, no crowds in the shops even though the January sales were in full swing.

The best way to get around is on foot. The city centre is fairly compact, many streets are reserved for pedestrians and Swedish motorists always seem to stop at zebra crossings. You just need to keep looking down, to avoid falling on the ice, and up, where huge icicles threaten constantly to become dislodged and stab the unwary walker.

Glacons

Water, in a less menacing guise, is everywhere. This "Venice of the North" (Stockholm shares the title with Amsterdam and Saint Petersburg) is built on 14 islands and you’re never far from a stunning waterside vista, or a bridge where you can watch fascinated as flotillas of ice floes come rushing past.

But you can get cold standing still for too long, so this might be a good time to explore one of the city’s 70 museums (here’s a sample) or go underground to admire the works of art on display at many metro stations.

When you want to give both body and brain a rest, you could take a break at one of the bars and cafés where rows of cushions snuggle invitingly up against those cold windows…

Coussins

or pop into a bakery for something sweet…

Vitrine-pain1

Stockholm is also a city where it’s relatively easy to eat vegan. And although Scandinavia has long had a reputation for being an expensive place for holidays, we found prices quite affordable. Hotels (with generous breakfasts) are certainly cheaper than in London and eating out is comparable.

Even the winter nights weren’t as long as I’d feared: daylight arrived at the same time as it does in France right now, and night fell at around 4pm, much like midwinter London.

In a few days I’ll tell you about some of the great restaurants where we ate during our stay.