Frantzen used to be located in tiny premises in the old town of Stockholm, but in July 2016 they closed and relocated to a larger building in the city, and finally reopened in August 2017. The change clearly worked for them, as Michelin upgraded their previous two stars to three in the 2018 Guide. Indeed Frantzen is the first restaurant in Sweden to gain the ultimate third star. Bjorn Frantzen went to culinary school and initially became a chef in the Swedish army. He trained for a time at Chez Nico in London, and then moved back to Stockholm to work at a restaurant called Edsbacka Krog, which had two Michelin stars at the time, in 1998. There he met pastry chef Daniel Lindeberg, the two of them opening what was then called Frantzen Lindeberg in February 2008. This gained a first Michelin star in 2008 and a second in 2009. We began our meal in the lounge bar, moved to the dining room downstairs, and had dessert and coffee back in the lounge. There is even a little outdoor terrace where you can have a drink if the weather is obliging.
The wine list was very extensive, with around a thousand different references available. Examples were Clos Fantine Faugeres 2014 at SEK 700 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for SEK 203, Herve Souhaut St Joseph Blanc 2014 at SEK 1,200 compared to its retail price of SEK 592, and Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny Montrachet Les Perrieres 2016 at SEK 1,700 for a wine that will set you back SEK 798 in a shop. At the prestige end of the list, Chateau Pontet-Canet 2008 was SEK 4,700 compared to its retail price of SEK 1,244, and Chateau d’Yquem 2008 was SEK 9,500 for a label whose current market price is SEK 3,323. A premium wine pairing was available at SEK 1,850 (£153) and was particularly well put together. The food menu format is of a no-choice tasting menu only, for both lunch and dinner, priced at SEK 3,000 (£248).
The first nibble was tartlet of king crab poached in beer, along with trout roe marinated in sake, garnished with dill flowers. The crab had lovely flavour and the dill was a very effective flavour to enhance the crab. A macaron of pumpkin with whipped foie gras cream was flavoured with marmalade, sea buckthorn and toasted oats. This was certainly very well made, though the orange taste seemed a little strong. A tartlet made from yuba (milk skin) contained pickled cucumber, cauliflower and glazed silver eel from southern Sweden. The eel had lovely flavour, and pickling juices were a good balance for the eel. A potato roll had pickled red onion a garnish of fish roe, the sourness of the pickled onion nicely balancing the roe. Finally there was a little soup of artichoke with Comte cheese and Perigord truffle, which was suitably comforting and had plenty of cheese flavour lifted by the earthy fragrance of the truffle. Overall 18/20 average for the nibbles.
The first formal course was a prettily arrayed dish of otoro of bluefin tuna from Spain, marinated in yuzu and served with slices of purple radish, myoga (Japanese ginger) that had been pickled in rice vinegar, along with a little olive oil and water of preserved tomato. The tuna was excellent and its inherent fatty richness was cut through nicely by the pickled ginger. To be very picky, the yuzu marinade was perhaps a touch more acidic than I would have preferred, but this was certainly a lovely creation (18/20).
This was followed by a single large langoustine tail that had been fried with puffed rice. The langoustine was caught in the cold waters off Norway and was an exceptional specimen, having lovely inherent sweetness and gorgeous flavour. The kitchen had sensibly decided that such a gorgeous creature needed minimal culinary intervention, so the simplicity of the cooking process seemed to me a very wise move. The flavour of the shellfish was simply outstanding, one of the best langoustines I have eaten (20/20).
Scallops came with a quite spicy XO sauce involving sea urchin, the shellfish garnished with finger lime, chrysanthemum and spruce shoots. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the scallops stood up to the spices, given their fairly delicate flavour. Certainly the scallops themselves were of excellent quality (18/20).
Pork chawanmushi (savoury Japanese egg custard flavoured with soy and mirin) was mixed with both raw and roasted cauliflower and garnished truffle pearls and a generous heap of caviar. The caviar itself was less salty than usual and turned out to be custom made for the restaurant. The custard, with its strong umami nature, had excellent texture and was a good pairing for the caviar (18/20).
This was followed by a prettily presented tray with several elements designed to complement one another. The centrepiece was a plate of bitter and pickled greens, with a side dish of crispy fish scales, a warm infusion that could be poured from a teapot, and a further little side dish of whipped buttermilk. The dressing of the salad leaves was quite sharp, which was logical given the presence of the buttermilk, while the crunch of the fish scales have a contrasting texture. This was the kind of dish that you might see in Kyoto during a kaiseki meal. It was light and carefully balanced (18/20).
Next was a dish that has been a signature of the restaurant for a decade. French toast is made using sourdough bread filled with caramelised onions and Parmesan custard made using Vacca Rossa Parmesan. To this is added further complexity from century old balsamic vinegar, and finally there is a garnish of Perigord black truffles. This is a gloriously rich dish, with just enough balance provided by the balsamic to prevent it being cloying. It is perhaps the ultimate comfort food (20/20).
Swedish spring lamb was roasted, presented in a ring of spring vegetables along with matsutake mushroom aioli, jus of the meat cooking juices, wild garlic oil and some chanterelles. This was a quintessentially spring dish. The, peas, beans and garlic are a classic combination with new season lamb, which was carefully cooked and had lovely flavour (19/20).
Barbecued quail came with pear, endive, and sauce a la royale thickened with the blood of the quail but given balance by acidity of apple, enhanced by the earthy fragrance of truffle. On the side was buttery, slightly sweet Parker House roll. The delicate flavour of the bird was beautifully brought out by the sauce, its richness cut through by the apple and slight bitterness of the endive. Having the bread available to mop up the sauce was a nice touch. This was followed by umami-rich “tea”, essentially a broth of fermented girolles truffles, silken tofu, quail jus, red seaweed and thyme. This broth was a touch salty but certainly complemented the quail (19/20).
The transition to dessert was bridged by a dish of salt-baked beetroot with baked liquorice, griottes cherries and aged violet vinegar. This sounded pretty strange when described but actually worked very well. It had a creamy texture, the acidity of the cherries an unusual foil for the beetroot (18/20). Dessert proper involved crème caramel that resembled a Snickers bar, and a mousse of sea buckthorn, espelette pepper and Sichuan pepper. The kick of the pepper was surprisingly sharp, and managed to stand up well to the usually overpowering sourness of the sea buckthorn (17/20).
Service was superb, the staff enthusiastic, attentive and professional, their attention never wavering over the course of a very lengthy meal. The bill came to a hefty SEK 7,500 (£620) but that was in large part due to some serious overindulgence in the upper reaches of the wine list. If you ordered modest wine then you could leave here with a total bill of perhaps £320 a head. This is of course a lot of money, but the menu price of £248 is hardly excessive if you compare it with the top restaurants of, say, Paris.
Overall the new Frantzen is very appealing restaurant. The surroundings are attractive and the service silky smooth. Above all the food is of a very high standard, with lovely ingredients and considerable technical skill on display. It fully deserves its recent elevation to three Michelin stars.