Review: Frantzén

18 June 2016

I woke up after a nice rest and felt sad this unplanned trip to Tallinn ends so quickly. So hard to visit “home” for less than 24 hours… I was off to the airport and off to Sweden… Got to Arlanda and took the fast but ridiculously-priced train into the centre and checked into my hotel next to the station.

I ran out and already had a long afternoon, and was knackered by the time I was getting ready for dinner. Tonight was set for 2-Michelin eatery Frantzén in the Old City. I took my time going down there in the rain and stopped for a cocktail beforehand across the street. Then walked in and was guided to the counter overlooking the large team of cooks at work. This should be fun, as I always like counter places. Reminds me of Japan…

The service was top notch and things moved very quickly as I happily went with the full experience and full pairing. And things began quickly as several others were sat at around the same time, so I was somewhat in synch with a few other diners.

After a small snack based on foie, we begin the long menu. First up, osetra caviar…

01-osetra

Now I’ve said I rather have the fish than the roe (like that divine sturgeon last night at Ö in Tallinn…), and that changes not even with these pricey versions. As someone who has worked in Eastern Europe for years, I am not infatuated with these things at all. So this kind of falls flat for me to start… A bit of arctic char in a rather sour smoked fishbone vinaigrette and for me this was a miss of a start…

I kept smiling and thought that’s just one dish — just to wow people. As I’ve said before, the three things I could do without are caviar (meh), truffle (I don’t like the texture), and edible gold (I despite this waste). Oh well… In any case, they showed us then a very nice looking scallop that’ll be coming up a bit later…

03a-scallop

Mmm, this looks good. In the meantime, the next dish was something that you find common in Japanese meals, the chawanmushi.

02-chawanmushi

Huh? This was so liquidy it didn’t fit the description at all. The asparagus and pea helped, but it was again very sour. What is this acid thing again? I felt like I was transported to Copenhagen all of a sudden… BTW I kept all the notes on my phone in Estonian so no one can read it as there was a very international team — but often they crept up behind us…

So far not very thrilled, and I feel like I’ve been sucking a lemon. I have no problems with sour, I ear limes as snacks…but this is skewing the flavours so badly… That trend sadly continued when the aforementioned scallop arrived…

03c-scallop

Hmmm…they were soaking in a very sour “dashi” — it had the wonderful aroma, but it was not drinkable because it was so sour. I actually felt my teeth when I tried drinking it. The scallop was good, but I had to leave it on the side of the dish to get the acidic dashi off of it because it utterly overwhelmed any delicate flavours that nature gave us. Another example of chefs doing too much to screw with the flavour of the main ingredient…

So far I am not happy at all, and I feel my body’s pH has dropped a point since I started… Everything is so bloody sour. Very much a failure in fusion too… Then the next item, langostines.

04b-langostines

These were done in a nigiri fashion, fried, with dried rice. Very tasty. They were awesome on their own. The clarified butter mayo on the side was not needed, and once again had a sour taste to it. I think chefs overdo the sour these days like how they overdo the salt in the past — their taste buds are immune to it. It’s actually really annoying. You never get this type of misuse of acid in Mediterranean cooking…

In any case the last dish was good, and the next dish was extremely interesting, the so-called “satio tempestas” — an incredibly labour-intensive vegetable dish — and I will give you 2 views of it (click on it, and every other picture, as always, to enlarge).

05-satio tempesta

Mmm, there were some fabulous items here. Each ingredient is represented once, and there are 51 different ingredients. You can imagine how much goes into the planning and execution for each of the 51 items, and it’s a true test of a kitchen to pull this off well.

05c-satio tempestas

It’s excellent, though I think it’s not as clean as the similar themed item at Den in Tokyo. But there were some fab pieces here, and this is a wonderful dish. Kudos to the team for this masterpiece.

After a little, we move on. Next up was monkfish…

06b-monkfish-lardo

Now this was done fabulously, what a beautiful piece of fish. Cooked perfectly, this was just a treat to have. However, the lardo on the side was really weak and really did nothing. But that fish, fabulous. Then a wee slowdown with the bread course.

07-bread

I know this is big in the region, but often it just fills me up too much. The butter was excellent, but I just could not eat all 4 pieces on my own and see this menu through… Too much. Next up, guinea fowl.

08a-guinea fowl

Mmm, this was absolutely stunning. It was almost as good as the poussin at Kokkeriet* a week ago in Copenhagen or the quail at Ö last night in Tallinn. Beautiful stuff, cooked absolutely perfectly. But again, what’s with the pool of acid in the centre? Again it was unnecessarily sour, and I’m glad the fowl was not touching it — or else it would have damaged its natural flavour. I’m sorry, such a dramatic and obtrusive change to the delicate flavours of the fowl is not exciting cooking — it’s wasting a perfectly good ingredient. So by not touching the sauce, I was beyond happy.

I think the theme of the night is that there’s some fabulous stuff here, but the saucier seems to be immune to intrusive sourness. Sigh… In any case, we move on. One of the best things about counter dining is getting into coversations with other diners. The staff are all chatty, which is very nice, but it’s also nice to chat with other diners — some from the US, some from Germany. The food continues tho…

09a-beef-truffle

Most people would grin ear-to-ear with the next dish, but not me…as I mentioned, I do not like truffle. I enjoy its aroma, but its texture for me is just awful. Now this beef dish looks good, the beef being dry-aged from cattle raised in the hills. A very wonderful and delicate tasting beef, strong but wonderful. Two nights of excellent beef now, this was much welcomed! I reluctantly ate the truffles at the end…

They also presented a broth that smelled divine, but once again it was just sour…and I abandoned it. Maybe I have just become hypersensitive to it, but when my teeth feels it before my tongue it’s not good… Sigh, the beef was so wonderfully good too…

Anyway, that was the end of the savoury portion. We move into the last segment with a rhum raisin gelato with frozen foie.

10-rhum-raisin-gelato

I know this is common now to have foie in a dessert dish but this meal has been so rich it was a bit excessive… Not bad, but already not being a dessert person… Then the last item, more rhubarb…

11-rhubarb

The shell is cracked to reveal rhubarb sorbet with strawberries and other goodies. Nice presentation and taste, but the last week I’ve been having rhubarb desserts nearly on a daily basis and I’ve frankly have had enough rhubarb to last me until 2017, so I won’t comment more…

I stayed around and enjoyed some after-dinner drinks and coffee and then they brought this out…geez…

treats box

Wow, right? That is a lot. They just gave me one of everything…

treats

So the next hour or so I stayed to drink a few more drinks and slowly pick these off and chat with other diners and staff. They were all rather excited about the restaurant’s next chapter in their new location, to open in 2017. It’s a strong team, and they all seem to really like working with each other. That’s a spirit I like to see.

An excellent dinner overall. A few misses at the beginning, and the sour issue has to be addressed, but there were some absolutely stunning moments — like the guinea fowl. The “satio tempestas” is almost worth the cost of the meal (pricey!) itself for all the thought and effort that went into it. But it certainly happily deserves the 2 Michelin stars and the accolades. Just please, check that sour!

I stepped out into the refreshing evening for a stroll out of Gamla Stan towards my hotel near the rail station. A nice stroll, enjoying this wonderful dinner. I made a few stops for drinks along the way, so the evening went merrily well. If you don’t get the chance to enjoy this place the final few weeks, do plan for 2017 — it should be a blast when it is reborn.

Frantzén
Lilla Nygatan 21
Stockholm, Sverige

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2 thoughts on “Review: Frantzén

  1. Pingback: Review: Rolfs Kök | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: My Top 10 Dishes of 2016 | melhuang1972

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