I did it all for the Nookie
At first, when Nook was first described to me, my caution alarm went off. I mean, you hear that a restaurant is not just ‘trendy’ but also that it’s Asian/Scandinavian fusion. Well, you can’t help but form a picture of something that is different for the sake of being different. Edgy to give itself a name. But the one thing that different always does is peak my curiosity. The Venn diagram of the two cuisines tends to be two opposed circles. So a chance to see if the two would overlap successfully insisted that I try it.
The first thing to say is – book. Not in a Michelin star, four-month wait, kind of way, but don’t turn up expecting to get a seat. This is spacious, minimalist dining room with fewer covers than expected. Part of that is based on its reputation, but there’s equal measure in its location. In the hipster SoMo district of Sodermalm, there’s a real buzz around the places to go. This makes last minute dining a little tricky. We luckily snapped up a cancellation on the morning of; ringing sometimes pays off.
For all my initial thoughts, the experience when you enter is immediately disarming. Our smiling waiter tells us that he’s not just going to help us with the menu but that he’s also an expert in rubbish jokes. Not so fast, I thought, that’s my job. The menu is divided into two sections; snacks and small plates ranging from 45-75 SEK; and then an option of 3 set menus with a slight range in price from 380-430. Given my lack of a sweet tooth we were going to get individual dishes, our waiter kindly points out that it is actually more expensive. So the set menu it is.
There’s a real range here to chose from, with some specials on the night. But it’s tough to remember my way past the blackened broccoli with sesame. Its charred edges and sweat miso like tang to the mayo dressing, have me still talking about it during dessert. Between Nook and my San Fran experience with NoPa, maybe I could be a vegetarian after all. To ensure I don’t think too long on that thought, there’s an equally good roe deer tartare. Perched atop a black kale leaf, with crispy shallots that are bite sized bliss.
Drinks wise, our unintrusive waiter, has told me to trust him navigating me through from white to red wine as we go through courses. He’s quickly becoming my buddy. He even convinces me into an extra half glass of one nice red. Usually, this is a sales ploy, and perhaps it is here too. But it’s done with charm and with no force or scorn if you chose your own way. The price for the recommendations are all at the reasonable end of the list as well. Well, as reasonable as Stockholm gets.
The set menus are three courses and give you a good mix of seafood, meat and then the aforementioned dessert. Lobster doused in brown butter and cauliflower foam, with vibrant pops of tarragon oil, is gobbled down. More European/Scandinavian than an Asian influence but a great balance of sweet lobster and aniseed tarragon. It’s trumped by the Porchetta with turnip and truffle, however, which is rich and sticky and ‘certainly’ good for you. The highlight of the savoury is flank steak, with horseradish, port sauce and nasturtium. Definitely a European dish, that was almost a little taste of Britain, in the centre of Stockholm.
The final memory of the food was those unwanted deserts. Cast out and neglected in our pre-meal thoughts, we half heartedly stuck a spoon in. These aren’t desserts for everyone, make no mistake, but they’re perfect for me. Instead of sickly sweet, sugary desserts, Nook has carefully balanced these to taste like more grown up offerings. Mine has slightly bitter cloudberries, whey cheese ice cream and biscuit, with drops of juniper oil. It’s like a cheesecake minus the artificial sweetness. The other is slightly more forgiving. A miso fudge and chocolate cookie pairing with Earl Grey and toasted buckwheat.
Maybe the Asian influence is overstated in people’s recommendations. Sure there’s soya beans, miso, and Korean chorizo but ultimately these influences are used cleverly. They’re mainly in the snacks, and not forced into dishes to add gimmickry. Price wise, this might be the upper end of the spectrum, but between the unpretentious service and the memorable food, it’s not hard to see why it’s gained its reputation. Go, eat, tell the waiter your rubbish jokes.
Modern fusion food in a laid back environment
Sometime’s there’s a reason things get a trendy reputation. Nook’s certainly deserving of all of its street cred. With interesting and well-executed dishes, bursting with flavour and a charm to match.