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Heaving with flavour

Kassia St Clair savours the many timely components in the satio tempestas at Frantzén in Stockholm

Kassia St Clair | September/October 2013

Confined to two small rooms on a street at the edge of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s germinated seed of an old town, Frantzén seats just 19. Some influential people have squeezed in, though: it has two Michelin stars and is 12th on the San Pellegrino list of the world’s best restaurants. The only perennial dish is satio tempestas, loosely translated as "satisfaction of the season". It’s a gleeful paean to the Scandi flair for balancing taste and texture with cerebral simplicity.

Conceived as a way to use up gluts of herbs, flowers and vegetables from Frantzén’s two gardens (the head chef Jim Löfdahl won’t call them farms), satio tempestas is a mirror of the season. Each element is individually prepared to polish up the facets of its flavour, and assembled on a slipware dish in hues as muddy as the terroir. In winter satio tempestas has between 22 and 32 components; in summer it has been known to harbour 55.

When I visit, in late spring, the colours are riotously saturated: it’s like tucking into an impressionist’s palette. A magenta-edged feather of heritage carrot provides height, and some tender leavestarragon, nasturtiumadd zips of green. The plate is loaded with young vegetables, some so new that the only prep they needed was a quick peel. Dressing is homemade herb butter, oozing from a braised quarter-bulb of onion that has been sprinkled with shards of sea-bream scales. At the heart of the dish, there’s a cube of almost indecently sweet beetroot and an aniseedy nugget of caraway root, heaving with flavour.

But when I turn to thank Löfdahl, he waves away the praise. "If we ever think, 'this is the best we can do', then the restaurant is dead. This dish is us being honest," he says, “honest and down to earth.” ~ Kassia St Clair

SKr2,100 (£210) per person for 12 courses;