Cafe Tranan, Stockholm, Sweden

Touchdown, to our fifth country in our European trip! Tonight we are at Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden which is the country famous for their meatballs, IKEA and tall, blonde, blue-eyed citizens. It’s our first night in Stockholm and Yvn has a friend who is currently on exchange in Uppsala and kindly offered to take us out to a nice dinner.

We are taken to Cafe Tranan, not that far out from the city centre and told we need to try the meatballs which aren’t even listed on the menu (it’s an open secret for the locals to order). A seemingly small and cosy restaurant, it is completely packed on this Wednesday night. The walls are covered with art posters, paintings and photographs and in the back corner there is a flight of stairs leading to a bar hidden downstairs. Their wine menu is three giant pages long and the food  offerings are a mix of Swedish and other European style cuisines.

Tonight, the majority of the table orders the meatballs which you just ask the waitress for, but before that we are given a side of bread and some whipped butter. There are two types of bread here; sourdough along with bread #2 (henceforth referred to as ‘the brown bread’…I forgot the actual name). The brown bread has a slight sweet flavour and seems very Christmassy, very fitting for December.

Before our mains come out, two Swedish condiments are also placed on the table – lingonberry jam and pickled cucumbers. These are recommended to be eaten with the mains since they can be quite heavy and these sides help offset that. The jam contains many small lingonberries and is very juicy, sweet and refreshing. It is highly reminiscent of raspberry jam but more delicious and I am somewhat tempted to buy a jar of this to bring back to Australia (I later find it in the supermarket for about $7/jar, quite expensive). The pickled cucumbers are absolutely delicious and by the end of the night, we have finished it all. They are vinegared well and hold some sour taste, but also the refreshing taste cucumber has. It is pickled a lot better than J’Go’s pickled vegetables back in Paris.

Meatballs (Kotbullar) – 180 KR

Finally the mains come out and we are very excited. Five plates of meatballs make their way to our table and although they look small, the serving is deceptively filling. The meatballs are soft and tender and not at all overcooked. However, the sauce is what topped it off; it is thick and is made of a reduced beef stock and blackberry jam, giving it a gravy consistency with some sweetness. It is a very heavy sauce, so it goes well with our Swedish sweet and sour condiments along with the side of creamy mashed potatoes.

Saltcured Salmon with dillcreamed potato – 195 KR

Another dish which we tried was the saltcured salmon. I’ve never had salmon cooked this way before but it is served at room temperature and its texture and consistency is similar to smoked salmon, just without the smokey flavour. Instead, there is a slight saltiness when eaten by itself, however tastes completely different when you squeeze some lemon on. Its like getting two types of salmon flavours for the price of one. I think I prefer my salmon either grilled or sashimi style, but this is still an interesting way to eat salmon. It is served with a side of potatos in a creamy dill sauce. The sauce is not that strong but the potatoes are cooked well.

Staircase to a hidden bar at the back

Similarly to how Yvn’s friend said he had to take us here to try their meatballs, I have to recommend to anyone going to Stockholm to also come here! The meatballs are an absolute stunner and the sauce might even be a better replacement to the usual tomato sauce. And if drinking tickles your fancy, don’t forget there is a bar hidden at the back (which was also packed out mind you). On that note, bookings are highly recommended since it was packed on a weeknight and don’t forget that the meatballs aren’t actually on the menu, you have to request them.

Cafe Tranan
Karlbergsvägen 14, Stockholm, Sweden
Ph: 08-52728100
Open Monday-Thursday 11:30-24:00, Friday 11:30-01:00, Saturday 17:00-01:00, Sunday 17:00-23:00

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